Life Archives - Page 5 of 8 - The Chef In Pearls

Meatless Monday

Meatless Monday

 

I originally wrote this post as a guest on another blog. It was Taco Tuesday. I never shared it with my readers so today you guys get it as Meatless Monday because well it’s Monday. Why not have a meat free day? We all want to be a little more conscience when making food choices so here’s one to add to your repertoire. Actually you can still have Fish Tacos just by making just a few changes in how you prepare it all. It’s a matter of taking each ingredient and figuring out healthier alternatives to them. I’ll even share options for flour tortillas. Let’s start. I’m sharing my take on oven fried fish instead doing deep-fried fish, less oil is always better for you. Little changes can go a long way.

Panko Crusted Tilapia

 

2 Tilapia fillets

¾ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil or melted butter

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

 

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and lightly spray baking sheet. Prep fish by cutting them into similar sizes for even cooking. Do this by first cutting fillet in 2 down the middle, with knife vertical. You will have one side thicker than the other. Take the thicker side and slice with knife horizontal to the fillet to create 2 pieces. Each whole fillet will make 3 pieces. Place fish in a dish and sprinkle with old bay seasoning. Then cover fish with olive oil make sure both sides of fillet are covered in oil. Por bread crumbs into a place. Take fillet pieces and cover with breadcrumbs, making sure to press crumbs into fillet. Place on a baking sheet. When all pieces have been covered with breadcrumbs and are on baking sheet.  Top fillets with remaining crumbs then drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Now to assemble our fish tacos. Oh wait I told you I would have some alternatives for that flour tortilla.  Well guess what? I do.  In it’s place you can use a whole wheat tortilla. Yup you read correctly, whole wheat.  They even make spinach and tomato. Just be sure to check the ingredients and make sure it’s made with a vegetable puree and not just food coloring.  The other alternative would be to use a leaf of Romaine lettuce or even Butter lettuce as your shell. Basically you are looking for a vessel to hold all the healthy goodness you are about to create.

So you have your protein and your taco shell. Now it’s time to build your taco. Keep your toppings simply you don’t want to start healthy and then lose it by adding unnecessary condiments with hidden calories. Here are some topping suggestions:

 

Diced tomatoes

Diced red onions

Shredded lettuce

Corn or black bean salsa

Cabbage or Jicama slaw (non-mayo based)

Cheese (quantity is key…a little goes a long way)

Jalapeno pepper slices

Diced Avocado

 

You don’t have to use all of the above mentioned. Just a few will do. There you have it, a healthier take on Fish Taco. Hey consider grilling or baking your fish the next time you try fish tacos. Now go forward and make memories. Leave me a comment if you decide to try this recipe or have a new spin on it.

 

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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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Cocktails & Conversations with Angie Stone

Cocktails & Conversations with Angie Stone

Conversations can be so strong especially when truth  is being spoken.  That’s what I felt took place during Cocktails & Conversations with Angie Stone, presented by Impact Magazine. She seemed to be sharing all of herself with all of us. I learned so much about her  that I had not known before. Things like she was a member of what history has down as the first female rap group, The Sequence. Or how she suffered from sarcoidosis and diabetes . The pain she felt when being photographed  from the neck up because she was a plus sized woman in an industry that didn’t hide it’s desire for smaller performers. Yet through it all she still pressed on.

In addition to Angie Stone, Tunisha Brown of Impact Magazine held conversations with Demetria McKinney.  She’s an actress and singer known for her works with Tyler Perry and one of the newer cast members of Real Housewives of Atlanta. She shared with us the love of her life, Roger Bobb. And how hard it was for her to keep that relationship quiet when all she wanted to do was scream it from the rafters.

Tunisha also chatted with Bee Wade, make-up artist and blogger. She managed to be named blogger of the year and appear in Essence Magazine more than a dozen times. All while raising two boys and taking care of her husband, who had been diagnosed with a disease that at one point left him paralyzed. But even dealing with all that she still managed to one of the best in her field.

What I learned from this evening of conversations wasthat even when life seems to be getting you down you got to push through if you really want it.

 

 

 

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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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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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