Food Archives - Page 7 of 9 - The Chef In Pearls

A Quickie…..Building a Better Burrito

A Quickie…..Building a Better Burrito

How do you build a better burrito? It’s pretty simple… you have to start with fresh Ingredients. That’s what draws us to places like Chipotle. They promise us fresh ingredients. It’s one of the reasons the McDonald’s corporation purchased the sweet Mexican chain. It wanted to be associated with fresh ingredients. Well if a big conglomerate like McDonald’s knows it’s all about the fresh then you should know it too.

I wish  knew how t make my own flour tortilla because I would have but since I don’t I purchased some from my local supermarket. Everything else was freshly made. I made a pot of lime rice with chopped parsley stirred through. Dried black beans that I soaked over night and then cooked down with chopped onions and spices. Ground beef that I browned with cumin, salt, black pepper, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce and fresh garlic. Corn salsa with diced red onions, jalapeno, lime zest, lime juice, kosher salt and black pepper. And of course fresh guacamole made with avocado,diced red onions, lime juice, kosher salt and a dash or two of siracha sauce. I sautéed some bell peppers and onions. We cannot forget the cheese, Sargento’s Mexican blend. And of course a little sour cream makes it extra yummy.

This is just one idea for a burrito but the options are endless. You could go pork or chicken, grilled veggies, multiple kinds of beans, potatoes just whatever your heart desires but remember to keep it fresh. Now get in that kitchen and go make memories.

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St. Patrick’s Day

Yesterday was St. Patrick’ s Day a celebration that some many non-Irish have come to make a part of their lives.  I participate yearly from wearing something green to cooking corned beef and cabbage to occasionally going out for cocktails with friends.  This year I created a menu  that included a Honey Mustard & Brown Sugar Glazed Corned Beef with Colcannon. And for dessert Toasted Almond Scones and Chocolate Chip Scones with freshly made Lemon Curd. It turned out wonderfully and the family enjoyed it.

I am including links to recipes I used. So feel free to try them out and let me know what you think. The corn beef was created by boiling it in water with a bay leaf , thyme, allspice berries and the seasoning packet included with it, 50 – 60 minutes per pound. Then finishing the last hour in the oven. In 30 minutes pull out corned beef and top with honey mustard and brown sugar then return to oven for last 30 minutes. Remember to slice against the grain of the meat. Traditional Irish side Colcannon. The base for the scones can be found here. The lemon curd was made with the ingredients from this recipe but the technique from here.

For the day after I made Sweet Potato Corned Beef Hash for breakfast with the obligatory Fried Egg. That was good eats.

In addition to the wonderful food I was able to have a mini photo shoot with my in-house photographer. I think she did an awesome job. I featured a pair of jeans two different ways for this St. Patrick’s Day Celebration.

Tee-Shirt- Old Navy                                                                                                                      Blouse- JCPenney’s

Jeans-Lane Bryant                                                                                                                         Jeans-Lane Bryant

Sneakers- PFFlyers-6pm.com                                                                                                      Heels-Tried & True from my closet                                                                                                                                                                                          (basically I can’t remember where I purchased them from)

Which look would you have gone for? I hope you St. Paddy’s Day ( yea I learned that it’s not Patty but Paddy) was fun. Now go forward and make new memories.

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Miami Life

Miami Life

I just got back from a wonderful week in Miami courtesy of my girlfriend Nykki. There was plenty of food, fun and friends.  I’ve decided that this will be a blog of mostly pics. We all know that  ” a picture is worth a thousand words” and I hope you can see what Miami Life was all about for me.

 Cuban Food….YES!

Celebrating 77 grand years with Bea Hines ( Miami Historical Figure)

 The Night Nykki Learned How to Breathe Fire

Groupies? Us? Nah….

Trying to get in the last of my foodie tour

Random Miami

The icing on the cake for me was my chance to meet my favorite Reggae Artist Beres Hammond. Unfortunately No pics but that was okay because the hug and the brief chat was enough to have made my entire year. Thanks Nykki and Pam for helping me enjoy Miami. Can’t wait to return.

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A Quote….

Uniformity is the plague of sameness

John Coykendall , Farmer-The Mind of a Chef

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A Quickie….Chicken Pot Pie

A Quickie….Chicken Pot Pie

So while perusing a Facebook group dedicated to people who like cooking, I came across someone’s picture of a pot pie they made. It instantly brought me back to my childhood, where my Mom had a freezer with individual boxes of pot pies for us (something for lunch she wouldn’t have to slave over and we liked them). We even had a choice of what kind we could eat, chicken or turkey. I loved them. One it wasn’t Jamaican food ( it was food I could relate to with the other kids in school) and two I had come to love pie crust( little did I know at the time that was an inferior product compared to what I would later learn to make).

(In my Gollum voice) I must have the pot pie. So what I would have a late lunch. It would be well worth it. And so my journey began into making an individual chicken pot pie for myself. First things first, I needed to make the pic crust and get it in the fridge so that the fat and flour could make happy time together while chilling out (if you want a truly flaky dough you must use butter and shortening to achieve it). Then I proceeded to chop vegetables and dice chicken breast for the filling and….. And well 2 1/2 hours later I was enjoying (with a slightly burned tongue) Chicken Pot Pie.

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A Healthier YOU

A Healthier YOU

I know on the blog I share a lot of things that may not be so health conscience but they aren’t meant to be eaten on a daily basis. If you follow me on social media you can get a feel for my daily eating habits, which isn’t all bad. With that being said I approached Miss Ebby K of I am EbbyK (a blog about fashion, fitness and faith) about being a guest on her blog. She loved the idea. So I share with my readers what is going to be shared with her readers. I hope you guys enjoy and take a moment to visit Miss Ebby K’s blog. Now go forward and make memories.

Stuffed Squash

The food pyramid says …oh wait it’s no longer a pyramid it’s now a plate. Right, so it suggests that as an adult woman you should get between 2-2½ cups of veggies daily and as an adult man you should get 2½-3 cups of veggies daily. So I’m always looking for ways to get vegetables in my meal. From adding fresh spinach and sweet bell peppers to my scrambled eggs or adding shredded zucchini and carrots to my spaghetti sauce when I’m creating an Italian styled meal. In the following recipe you can more than meet your daily vegetable requirement. I served it with brown rice cooked with vegetable broth and olive oil (instead of butter).

 

Stuffed Zucchini

serves 2

 

1 large zucchini 7”-8” long

1 small yellow 4”-5” long squash, diced

3 mushrooms (white button or baby portobella), stems removed

1-2 cloves of garlic minced

½ of small onion, diced

¼ sweet bell pepper, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1 small carrot, shredded

¾ cup kale, rough chopped

¾ cup spinach, rough chopped

¼ cup of broth/stock ( chicken or vegetable)

¼ – ½ cup of panko breadcrumbs

3 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese

Olive oil

Kosher salt

Black pepper

 

Heat oven to 450. Half zucchini. Using a spoon remove the core of the zucchini creating a shell. Save core to the side. When both halves are cored drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Take the reserved zucchini cores and dice.  Heat a saute pan with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil add onions,bell peppers, celery, yellow squash and diced zucchini core. Saute vegetables for about 2-3 minutes. Add garlic, carrots, spinach and kale cooking for an additional 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add broth and then add breadcrumbs until mixture starts to come together. Turn off heat. Add 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese. Fill zucchini halves with mixture, over stuffing. Sprinkle breadcrumbs and remaining parmesan cheese on top of halves then drizzle with olive oil. Bake in oven for 15- 20 minutes or until shell is tender.

 

You know that spaghetti sauce I mentioned earlier in the post? Why not take a chance on another stuffed squash. Buy a spaghetti squash, half it, scoop out seeds and then place it cut side down into a casserole dish. Add enough broth to cover the bottom of the pan. This helps to steam the squash and adds flavor. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a 400 degree pre-heated oven for 30-40 minutes or until tender. Remove squash from pan. Saute your favorite vegetables and add to your favorite sauce. Take a fork and flake up the spaghetti like strands of the squash then top with your sauce mixture and parmesan cheese. Bake until cheese is melted, 5-10 minutes. Eat with a side salad.

 

I hope this moves you closer to your healthier you in 2015. Now go forward and make memories.


The Chef In Pearls is a blog where food and fashion meet. A retired Chef learning to live life to the fullest. Please follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @TheChefInPearls  

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A Quickie….Sargento

 

So what do you do when one of your best friends is in town and stopping through? Well I always plan to feed people. Problem… she no longer eats meat and she’ll be there in less than an hour. You do what I did. You create a cheese platter with Saregento’s new tasting cheeses.

One of my best friends, Lavern

One of my best friends, Lavern

 

It was a fun experience for us all. My cheese board included 4 of the 8 tasting cheeses Sargento has created: the New Zealander (hands down everyone’s favorite), the Aged Vermont White Cheddar (second runner-up in the list of favorites), the Parmentino (which I enjoyed with a slice of fresh pear) and the Medium Asiago. I included crackers, sliced pear and sliced apples one the board also.


I look forward to trying the other 4 cheeses Sargento created in this line. I can’t wait to see what I will cook up with these cheeses.  As it stands we still have some of the cheeses left over from last night and I’m thinking quick and easy.  I see grilled cheese in our future with a blend of the leftovers on maybe a nice brioche.

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December Food in Review

December Food in Review

I’ve come to realize that most of my food posts have been to my social media sites. Which if you aren’t following you should. I’m on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as you guessed it TheChefInPearls.( go follow me now if you aren’t already) . I seem to always have something food related on those sites.  So this month I’m going to do a review of some of the things I have created or eaten that were posted and not blogged about. Keep reading it should be fun.

First I’d like to share with you an amazing time I had at a food tasting with Chef Ed Harris. He was a Food Network “Chopped “winner. I got a chance to see why first hand. He created a night of Dim Sum. Anyone that knows me well will tell you Asian cuisine always wins in my book and Chef Harris did a great job of presenting on this night.

 

 

Another event I attended in December was Bella N Black. I had the opportunity to vend as Gems and Baubles while taking in the networking, music and food. The event took place at the Glenn Hotel. They did their take on a passed hors d’oeuvre of Chicken & Waffle. It came off a bit large for a passed hors d’ oeuvre and a little messy since it had been drizzled with syrup and served on a napkin. Other than that it was quite tasty.

In honor of winter, the holidays and childhood memories I spent some time creating hot chocolate which I did blog about. If you missed it you can always check it out here. Had to include it because it happened in December.

Hot Chocolate with fresh whipped cream with  grated chocolate on top

Hot Chocolate with fresh whipped cream with grated chocolate on top

Whenever I get a chance to visit the DeKalb Farmers Market it always brings me joy ( I smiled just writing that sentence). The fresh ingredients always inspire me. The fresh broccolini inspired an Asian dish along with fresh ginger and Shiitake mushrooms. Those ingredients became Gingered Beef with Broccolini & Shiitake Mushrooms served over steamed rice.

I always try to get some clams when I visit the farmers market because well, I like them and also they make an easy lunch. I start off by dicing onions, celery and sweet bell peppers and sauteing them in olive oil with chopped garlic and a few red pepper flakes . I add the cleaned clams and then approximately 1/2 cup of either wine or chicken broth to steam them open. Once open I removed them from the pan turn the heat up to reduce to a sauce adding butter and fresh chopped parsley to finish it off. I top the clams with sauce and then serve with french bread slices.

Steamed Clams for lunch

Steamed Clams for lunch

 

For the Christmas Holiday I was able to travel to North Carolina where my Dad and his wife relocated to from New Jersey. I love a good road trip and this turned out to be pretty good. We got to stop at one of my favorite spots off I-85 for lunch, JPeter’s Grill & Bar. They make a juicy burger and their steaks are like buttah. Check them out the next time you are in South Carolina. They keep expanding so I’m sure you’ll be able to find one close to where you may be visiting.

We made it just in time for Christmas Eve dinner with my Dad and older brother’s family.  Since both men are married to Filipino women we were lucky to have some Asian cuisine on the dinner table. I always enjoy good Asian food and this was no exception. Christmas morning we were blessed to have a traditional Jamaican breakfast of cabbage & saltfish, fried dumplings, plantains and bammy courtesy of the Dred aka my husband. I think it’s great to have such an international flair within my family.

I hope you enjoyed my December food recap. I look forward to bringing you more interesting things in the coming new year. Now go forward and make memories.

Ooh yeah I forgot I made this wonderful frittata with broccoli, sweet potatoes, cheese and topped with a black bean corn salsa…hey I made it in December so it should be included. Now go get fab for NYE!

Frittata

Frittata

 

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It’s all about the Chocolate

It’s all about the Chocolate
pic via brainscape.com

pic via brainscape.com

 

Imagine….snow falling outside…the family gathered around the fireplace…everyone with a mug of hot chocolate in hand…this is the ideal winter picture. This is the image everyone brings to mind when they think of winter and the Christmas holidays. The key to this image though is the hot chocolate. I mean that’s that comfort drink that brings out the kid everyone. Chocolatey, sweet and so warm to your insides.  Funny thing is I stopped liking hot chocolate back when I was still living in New York. It still brings back fond childhood memories though, of when I used to drink it, whenever I prepare it for family and friends.

This past weekend I had a small group of young people over to taste test some hot chocolate recipes I had been working on. We started of with a hot chocolate mix similar to the ones you buy in the stores but better. It was a hit. The secrets to my hot chocolate always getting great reviews are that : 1. I never use water only milk 2. I always add cinnamon when heating up the milk 3. I  add vanilla after removing the mixture from the heat. It was really easy to make the mix and it stores for up to 3 months in an airtight container. I added fresh whipped cream to everyone’s hot chocolate once I poured them into cups.

IMG_20141204_214510

IMG_20141204_222653

 

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups nonfat dry milk powder
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1½ cups cocoa powder, dutch-process or natural
  • 6 oz of semi-sweet baking chocolate
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch

DIRECTIONS

  1. Break/chop baking bar into pieces and place in freezer for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes add to blender or food processor and grind to a powder. Add powder to a mixing bowl.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients to mixing bowl.Whisk together all the ingredients. Working in two (or more) batches, depending on the size of your food processor, pulse the ingredients in a food processor until the chocolate is finely ground.
  3. To make hot cocoa, 2-3 Tablespoons (add more or less depending on you level of chocolate desires) of the cocoa mix in a mug and stir in 1 cup of hot milk. Top with whipped cream or miniature marshmallows, if desired.
Hot Chocolate with fresh whipped cream with  grated chocolate on top

Hot Chocolate with fresh whipped cream with grated chocolate on top

Recipe source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe and Food 52

So longing to create new hot chocolate memories of my own I found a hot chocolate I thought I would love. It seemed like I would be drinking a chocolate bar with whipped cream on top. How could I go wrong?  The recipe called for dark baking chocolate but I was having a hard time finding it any of the markets I went to so I substituted semi-sweet chocolate instead. Everyone’s thought was that it was too rich including myself. If I were to remake this hot chocolate I would use less chocolate, use a mix of semi-sweet and milk chocolate, use more milk a little less sea salt in the whipped cream.  I do think I have found a way back to liking hot chocolate again.

Ingredients

Sea Salt Chocolate Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon sugar

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling

Melted Hot Cocoa

8 Squares (4 ounces) Dark 100% Cocoa Baker’s Chocolate

2 Squares (1 ounce) Semi-Sweet Baker’s Chocolate

2-4 teaspoons honey, depending on how sweet or bitter you like your chocolate

3/4 Cup Whole Milk, at room temperature

Begin by preparing the sea salt whipped cream. Beat the cream and sugar in an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment at medium-high speed until the cream holds a very soft peak. Gently whisk in the sea salt and cocoa powder until incorporated. Cover and set aside.

To make the hot cocoa, melt down the chocolate pieces in the top of a double boiler, stirring constantly. Add the honey and milk and continue stirring until it’s one fluid mixture and becomes very warm. Evenly distribute the cocoa between two serving glasses and top with the whipped cream and a pinch of sea salt for garnish. Serve immediately.

Hot chocolate with sea salt chocolate whipped cream

Hot chocolate with sea salt chocolate
whipped cream

Recipe source Adventures in Cooking.

How can you make hot chocolate without marshmallows? Exactly so I whipped a batch for this evening of hot chocolate. We dipped some in chocolate candy melts and added sprinkles and crushed peppermints. Here’s the link to the recipe.

With the leftover hot chocolate mix, marshmallows, some candy dipped spoons and a couple of mugs we made a few gifts for my daughter’s teachers.  You are now fully equipped to make some wonderful images that will include hot chocolate and even marshmallows. Go forward and make memories.

CAM00289

 

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Turkey, AGAIN? (Holiday Series Finale)

Most people haven’t thought beyond turkey sandwiches on the day after let alone what’s gonna happen to the leftover leftovers. And by day 3 believe you me your family doesn’t want anything more to do with turkey either. Here’s a way to move beyond that bump in the road.

My one suggestion is to get rid of the turkey. No I don’t mean throw it away.  I mean get it out of your family’s eye sight. Then you can re-introduce it at a later time…in a different form. First things first you have to…

Freeze your leftover turkey. Remove you turkey meat from the carcass. Portion them out into plastic freezer bags and date. Try to remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn.The USDA says that turkey can last in the freezer for up to 4-6 months. If you want to keep it moist when you thaw, freeze with gravy or some stock.

Now that you know how to freeze turkey you need to know what to do with it once you decide to thaw it. Actually this is one for the day after the big meal or the day before the big freeze. This one may get rid of quite a bit of your leftovers and still keep the family interested. Got turkey? Mashed potatoes? Gravy? Vegetables? Then you’ve got the makings of Turkey Shepherd’s Pie.

2 cups cubed leftover turkey meat

1 1/2 cups gravy

2 cups of leftover vegetables (broccoli, peas, carrots string beans whatever you like or rather whatever you have on hand)

3 cups leftover mashed potatoes

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 400°. Lightly grease a 9″x 9″ pan. Heat gravy and turkey together in a sauce pan. Transfer heated mixture to 9″x 9″pan. Top meat with vegetables and then top vegetables with mashed potatoes (Have potatoes at room temperature or warm some. It makes the next step easier to do). Spreading potatoes out to within a 1/2″ of edge of pan. Sprinkle shredded cheese across top of potatoes.  Place pan on top of sheet pan and bake in oven for 30 minutes.

Ok so suppose you still have turkey to freeze after this dish. Consider yourself lucky and proceed to freezing it. What do you do with the turkey when it comes time to thaw. It’s really up to you. Take your favorite recipe and substitute the meat it calls for with your thawed turkey meat.   Like Chili or maybe a Brunswick Stew. Or try adding it to a dish that doesn’t traditionally have meat in it like maybe your favorite Mac & Cheese recipe. Use your imagination. .you never know you create a favorite for your family.

I hope this series has helped with the madness of holiday meals. Let me know how this series may or may not have helped you. Leave a comment.

Happy Holidays from Cassandra as The Chef In Pearls and owner of Gems and Baubles. Now go make some memories!

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The Chef In Pearls

Cassandra Mason is a Lifestyle Chef and Gourmet Cooking Instructor who enjoys demystifying the art of cooking for One. You can catch her live demonstrations across major social media as @TheChefInPearls.

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