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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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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Thanksgiving OOTD

 

Thanksgiving OOTD Shirt dress Lane Bryant Sweater Ashley Stewart Knee socks Target Shoes Lane Bryant

Thanksgiving OOTD
Shirt dress Lane Bryant
Sweater Ashley Stewart
Knee socks Target
Shoes Lane Bryant

If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram you know that the above pic was a #FashionObsession of mine from the Nordstrom’s Fall catalogue . I wanted so badly to have this look. My goal with this was to re-create it without having to spend any large funds. I think I nailed it.  I only spent $4 for the knee socks everything else was hanging in my closet.  What do you think?

 

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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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WE Rock!

Have you ever gone to a conference and after just an hour wondered why you were there? I have. You were sold on the wealth of knowledge you would gain by attending and it just never happened. That was not the case at the WE (Women Entrepreneurs)   Rock Conference. They set out for females to be able to look at themselves and their businesses differently. And they achieved that.

They provided a place were women in business could come together, learn from each other, network,  aspire one another and gain the knowledge they need to take themselves & their businesses to the next level.

Their guest speakers included keynote speakers Jai Stone, of Jai Stone ULTD & Ronnie Tyler, of Tyler New Media LLC and a special inspirational message from Judge Lauren Lakes, of Paternity Court. Their panelists shared information  about social media, finances, writing books, answering your calling, making profit on purpose and being able to live a limitless life. There was no way to leave their not motivated and charged up about yourself and your business.

This was the 4th year for WE Rock and they already have plans for a bigger & better event for 2015. They’re taking it on tour so look for them in your city. Visit their website www.WeRockNational.com  to find out cities and dates and how you can be apart of the WERock Nation.

Special thanks to the co-founders Melisa Alaba and Edeline Dryden for having the foresight to create such and awesome event.

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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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