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Quickie… Get Ready. Get Set. Holidays

Quickie… Get Ready. Get Set. Holidays

Holiday-dinner-table

It’s that time of the year again. You know where family gather and people eat like there’s no tomorrow. It’s also the time of year when everyone wants to show off their culinary skills (or the lack there of) with tables full of traditional and not so traditional meals. Well with the weeks leading up to the big turkey day and Christmas fast approaching after that The Chef In pearls will be sharing video tips to get you through the holidays with ease. You’ll be able to participate in the videos by catching them live on Periscope. You can download the app for free in your app store, Apple and Android users alike. Once downloaded look for me as, you guessed it, The Chef In Pearls. Then listen out for that sexy whistle because I will be coming to you live . You can always let me know some of the things that are your biggest challenges and I will try to address them in the scopes. Looking forward to helping you make new memories this holiday season

(image from realstylenetwork.com)
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A Quickie…..Shashuka

A Quickie…..Shashuka

I love when I can find something new to do with eggs. Not just something new but something that taste great too. I mentioned in my previous post that I have come into being addicted to Pinterest. Well, while on one of my many visits to Pinterest I came across an Israeli dish named Shashuka. Now I know the name doesn’t do much on giving you a hint of what it’s made from ( well at least not in English) but I promise you it is full of flavor. Even better than the taste is the ease of making this dish. In less than 30 minutes you’ll have something that tastes wonderful and looks just as appealing. It’s something you can do and invite a couple of friends over for brunch. It won’t damage your pocket and everyone will be happy. Canned tomatoes, eggs, some herbs & spices ( I added onions, mushrooms and spinach to my base), feta cheese and some crusty bread. Who wouldn’t be happy with an invite to a meal like that? My version of Shashuka was adapted from Food 52.

Shashuka

  • tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions caramelized
  • 1 container of baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups rough chopped fresh spinach
  • 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes
  • 9-10 garlic cloves, chopped small
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Pilpelchuma, store bought or recipe below
  • tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped (I used flat leaf parsley because I don’t like cilantro)
  • 4-6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
  • 4-6 warm pitas or grilled crusty bread

 

Pilpelchuma

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon hot paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • pinch cumin
  • pinch salt
  1. Pilpelchuma: Mix ingredients together to form a paste. This will keep for 3 weeks in the fridge.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet or pan with lid over low heat.
  3. Add the caramelized onions, mushroom slices, chopped spinach, chopped garlic, paprika, cumin, & pilpelchuma to the pan and saute for 3-4 minutes until fragrant.
  4. Mix in the canned tomatoes & salt. Cover the pan with lid and simmer for 15 minutes. At this point, you can cool the sauce and store to use another day. Just heat it back up in the same pan and continue from here.
  5. Add and mix in the cilantro leaving a bit out of the pan to garnish with later.
  6. Make pockets in the sauce with a wooden spoon or spatula and very carefully crack the eggs into them. Make sure to space the eggs out. There should be sauce in between each egg for them to cook properly (and prettily).
  7. Immediately cover the pan, turn the heat up a bit to medium and cook without lifting the lid for 4-7 minutes depending on how you like your egg yolks. 4 for runny yolk and 7 for hard cooked yolk..
  8. Eat right away while its piping hot. Sopping up all the sauce with the pita. Enjoy!

So get out your contact list, invite a few friends over and go forward & make new memories.

 

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Dessert for Dinner

Dessert for Dinner

Okay, what do you do when you want dessert for dinner and you don’t want to bake a whole cake? You pull out your grill pan of course. (You guys must be tired of my grill pan but know that I love my grill pan) I had a nicely ripened peach, some vanilla yogurt, granola and honey. It was the making of a really good dinner. I hope you try this one.

Now go forward and make new memories

P.S . This is a good one for those watching their figure…I still don’t know what the calorie count is on this. *Shrugs shoulders*

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Awww Man…

Awww Man…

 

Earlier this month I was so excited to bring you guys my astore. It was an opportunity for me to provide a place for my readers to purchase things I may use in my videos and blog posts as well a chance to monetize my blog.  In all my excitement obviously missed a little bit of print that Amazon shared with me. I am unable to make a commission on things sold to people they deem as family, friends or associate.   That means that if you are someone their computer algorithms deems as doing too much non-Amazon things with me you are now aka family, friend or an associate. Basically I can have everyone I know shop with them through my site and never receive a dime for bringing them business. The only persons that would be benefitting from me having an astore would be Amazon. I haven’t given up hope yet. Still looking for another affiliate program to share with you guys. I hope I find it soon. Thanks for understanding and being patient.

P.S. I was only making a 4% commission on things sold through them. You would have thought it was thousands of dollars they were parting with for each sale…jeesh

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A Quickie….National Martini Day

A Quickie….National Martini Day

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I fell in love with Martinis….Apple Martinis to be exact over 10 years ago. I had long been a fan of vodka but now I had another cocktail made with vodka to add to my list. I learned that today, June 19th, was National Martini Day.  A day dedicated to the celebration of Martinis. How could I not write about my love of Apple Martinis?

Okay it’ story time. I wanted to bring my love of Apple Martinis to one of my best friends. I traveled to Kissimmee, Florida to visit with my friend Alison, whom I’ve known for over 20+ years. We decided to have dinner at a local Cheesecake Factory. We had been assigned the world’s best waitress that night. She asked for our drink orders and so I had to have an Apple Martini. Our waitress looked at me and asked if I liked jolly ranchers. Who doesn’t like a good jolly rancher candy? She informed me then I must have my Apple Martini with the addition of Midori, a melon liqueur. You tell me that by adding another liqueur I can be drinking a cocktail that tastes like candy? I’ll take it. That was the beginning of all of my Apple Martinis having Midori added to them and my continued love of Apple Martinis.

Here’s a recipe for an Apple Martini with Midori.

2 oz Vodka ( I’m partial to Tito’s Handmade Vodka)

1 oz Apple Schnapps

1 oz Midori melon liqueur

1 squeeze of lime juice

 

Prep martini glass by chilling it either in the fridge or allowing to sit with cubes of ice. Once chilled rim glass with sugar(dip rim of glass in lime juice and then into sugar). Add Vodka, Schnapps and Midori to a shaker over and shake well. Strain into prepared glass and finish with a squeeze of lime juice and a thin slice of green apple.

Please enjoy this drink responsibly. Now go forward and make memories.

(recipe courtesy of drinkmixer.com)

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Roast Beef Sandwiches

Roast Beef Sandwiches

Normally on a Sunday I tend to be a little more traditional with a full cooked meal. This Sunday was a little different. I wanted to go to the farmers market which for me is therapeutic. It relaxes my mind and brings out my creativity.

Well after more than an hour in the market I realized we had passed the hour for brunch and moved into the hour of a late lunch or an early dinner. What shall we have. Sandwiches. What kind? Roast beef chimed my daughter. And now i was on the hunt for the right fresh ingredients to make the ultimate roast beef sandwich.

I started off with the roast beef of course. What type of bread shall hold all this goodness. Well the market makes a french loaf perfectly sliced for sandwiches. Done deal, It took a place in the cart. I know I wanted to make a spread. What goes best with beef than some fresh herbs, oregano and flat leaf parley. I’d incorporate into some cream cheese once we got home. What other things did I want to adorn what was to be the ultimate roast beef sandwich. I wanted heirloom tomatoes but the we out so I went with yellow tomatoes instead. caramelized onions and mushrooms made the list followed by alfalfa sprouts and green leaf lettuce. Home we headed.

I immediately started the onions and mushrooms. Then I created the spread I envisioned. I used 4 oz. of cream cheese that I softened in the microwave for a few seconds then I added 2 tablespoons each of chopped parsley and oregano, a pinch of salt and black pepper. then combined it all. I used it on one side of the sandwich. I added butter with a little oil to a pan then added the bread slice with no spread to the pan . I added cheese on top of that, then roast beef, the mushroom onion mixture, topped by two slices of the yellow tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts, lettuce and the slice of bread that had the herb spread on it. I toasted the sandwich until golden brown on both sides. Removed and cut in half. Boy did everyone enjoy it..

If you re-create this sandwich let me know. Now go forward and make new memories.

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A Quickie…Apple Butter Bakery

So I have found a new gem in my neighborhood. It’s the Apple Butter Bakery. Some of the best baking I have come across in long time. I can safely say that I love, love, love this place. Within a month’s time I have visited three different times. Unfortunately most of my pictures did not transfer over when I got my new phone….Boooo. Only a couple of pics of all their goodness

The cupcakes are to die for. I am having a hard time deciding which one is my favorite. I like their cookies and cream milkshake cupcake and their red delicious cupcake and their omnomnom cupcake and the tall dark and handsome cupcake oh and their chocolate chip cookies will leave you wanting to buy a dozen.(Run on sentence much??) Did I say I really like this bakery? Because I really do. They even do custom cakes for wedding and birthdays.( I know where I want my birthday cake from this year) You can even make arrangements to rent out the space for private events. Check them out when you get a chance Apple Butter bakery in Stone Mountain, GA . Hey tell them Cassandra sent you :) . Now go forward and make new memories

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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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Cranberries Uncanned (Holiday Series Pt 3)

Cranberries Uncanned (Holiday Series Pt 3)

Are you still eating cranberry sauce from a can? I know I say I won’t judge you but I will give you the side-eye for not going fresh. I mean, once you learn how easy it is to make cranberry sauce from scratch you’ll never go canned again.

I want you to walk away from this post with not only the know-how on how to make cranberry sauce but that cranberry sauce ain’t just for turkey. That’s right i said it. You can do so much more with cranberry sauce like appetizers, drinks, entrees and desserts. The sky’s the limit or at least your imagination.

Basic Cranberry Sauce

1 12oz. bag of cranberries (fresh or frozen)

1 cup of water

1-2 cups of granulated sugar

Wash and sort cranberries. Place cranberries in a sauce pan with water and 1 cup of sugar. Allow to simmer. You can add more sugar depending on how sweet you like your sauce. After about 10 minutes of cooking and you can no longer hear the berries popping you can turn off stove. Pour sauce into a bowl and allow to cool. Sauce thickens as it cools.

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce

Here are some other dishes I used cranberry sauce in.

November 23 2014 021

Baked Brie topped with warm Cranberry Sauce

Pork Tenderloin Medallions and Whipped Sweet Potatoes with a Cranberry- Pomegranate Sauce

Pork Tenderloin Medallions and Whipped Sweet Potatoes with a Cranberry- Pomegranate Sauce

Wine Spritzer made with Cranberry, your favorite white wine and topped with seltzer.

Wine Spritzer made with Cranberry Sauce, your favorite white wine and topped with seltzer.

Cranberry Shortcake made with a cranberry, apple & pear compote

Cranberry Shortcake made with a cranberry, apple & pear compote

I hope the post has you ditching the can and being inspired by fresh cranberries.  CIPapproved

 

 

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2+2+1= Gravy (Holiday Meal Series Pt 2)

So your gravy is…well…not the best.  Lumpy is just the start of what makes your gravy unappealing.  So what do we do to make it better? Well we turn to a little math, If you have this little equation you are well on your way to better gravy. 2 + 2 +1= Perfect Gravy. That is 2 Tablespoons of fat plus 2 Tablespoons of flour plus 1 cup of liquid and you’ve got gravy kinda. The only special equipment I suggest for this gravy making task is a whisk,it  helps to eliminate lumps.

2 Tablespoons  Fat ( butter, olive oil or fat drippings from meat)

2 Tablespoons all Purpose Flour

1 cup Liquid  (stock,broth or meat drippings)

Salt & Pepper to taste

Melt fat in a sauce pan. Once melted add flour and allow to cook for about 1-2 minutes. Then add liquid while whisking to prevent lumps. Allow to simmer until thickened 3-5 minutes. Taste so that you can adjust seasonings as needed.

Once you have this basic gravy down then you can get a little fancy with it.  You can make a mushroom beef gravy by sauteing freshly sliced mushrooms before melting fat and adding flour and using either a beef broth, stock or dripping from cooked beef. Or maybe you want something a little spicy add cracked peppercorn to the melted fat before adding flour.  The varieties are limitless and left only up to your imagination and taste-buds.

Now you’ll be the champion of gravy at your next holiday meal

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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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