There is nothing cooler than being able to say you know Santa and actually knowing him. Yep. Your girl the Chef In Pearls not only knows Santa but recently did a photo shoot with him and Mrs. Claus. I mean I can’t get any cooler than that or can I? I probably could be cooler but that’s a whole other post.
Actually let’s not save it for another post. Let’s deal with it in this post. You know what makes me cooler even than just knowing Santa? The fact of being able to call him my brother. Yep Santa Dee of The Real Black Santa is my brother and the young lady who plays Mrs. Claus with him is actually my mother. So yeah I think I am way cooler that I previously thought I was. The only other person I think is cooler than me would be his 10 year old daughter who gets to tell everyone, ” Santa is my Dad”.
My brother gained a lot of popularity in a world where his skin color makes him different or not the norm. But he is the real deal. His beard is not fake but actually grows from his face. It is naturally white not bleached or died to get the color but actually white because it grew that way. It’s a family trait, the gray hair thing we got going on. He earnestly looks forward to the season because he likes the smile he puts on the children’s faces. I still remember how in awe I felt when I first saw him in a Santa suit. Instantly I just wanted to tell him what I wanted for Christmas in hopes that it would be waiting for me under the tree.
I know a lot of people don’t believe or even like the concept of Santa Claus. If for nothing else, when presented correctly, it’s the ideal of showing love to others. That’s what this season is all about. All anyone is really looking for is to be loved. Even the smallest token is appreciated when truly given out of love. That’s all Santa Dee wants to show the world. It may be a concept for children but believe me when I say it touches even the adults. They look forward to the chance to be able to bring their children in to take pictures. To be able to share a few words with him. At times they are more excited than the kids. They want to be the cool parents. I guess them, like me, want to be able to say they know Santa. That gives them some kind of kid cred amongst their children and other children they may know.
Keep up with me and Santa Dee because we’ve somethings in the making. Hopefully we can help you with your memory making this season through cooking, some pictures or even some kind words. Now get off the computer and go makes some memories.
(All Photos by Nicole Denise)
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)
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.
- 3 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
- 1 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
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 tablespoon hot paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 pinch cumin
- 1 pinch salt
- Pilpelchuma: Mix ingredients together to form a paste. This will keep for 3 weeks in the fridge.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet or pan with lid over low heat.
- Add the caramelized onions, mushroom slices, chopped spinach, chopped garlic, paprika, cumin, & pilpelchuma to the pan and saute for 3-4 minutes until fragrant.
- 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.
- Add and mix in the cilantro leaving a bit out of the pan to garnish with later.
- 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).
- 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..
- 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.
How do I tell you that you have become the devil in my life? I spend so much time pinning things to my boards and creating new boards to pin things to. Hours upon hours. Time that I should be writing new blog posts or creating new recipe ideas. Yet somehow that time spent there helps me to do such things. It’s weird in a twisted kind of way. Hours pinning and re-pinning somehow helps me find new ideas and different takes on things I want to share with my readers and students.
I recently came across a pin for a Maple Bar Donut. It immediately took me back to my visit to Miami earlier this year. I got to visit Mojo Donuts where I sampled a Maple Bacon Bar. I fell in love with that donut. It tasted just like breakfast but in a really good way, sweet and salty. Just Perfect. So I decided to try out this recipe I found on Pinterest. The hardest part of making this donut was making the glaze. So without further ado I present you to the Maple Bacon Bar.
Easy Maple Bacon Bars
- 1 8-count can refrigerated biscuit dough (I used Pillsbury Grand Homestyle Buttermilk biscuits)
- 2 cups canola oil, for frying
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3 TBSP milk
- 1 TBSP corn syrup
- 2 tsp maple extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 4 strips thick cut bacon
Pour 2 cups of canola oil into a medium sized saucepan and begin heating on medium-low heat.
Cook bacon strips until crispy. Chop into bite size pieces. Set aside in a bowl (try not eat all the bacon before topping donut)
Open the biscuit dough and separate. Gently stretch the biscuits into an oblong shape, as opposed to the round shape they come in.
In a small saucepan, combine butter and brown sugar. Whisk in milk and heat for about 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring often, until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.
Remove from heat and add in corn syrup and maple extract. Add in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, whisking until smooth between additions. Add 1-2 tsp more milk if necessary. Glaze will begin to harden if you leave it sitting- which is what you want! Once all powdered sugar is added, keep maple glaze warm on the stove, whisking occasionally.
Check the temperature of the oil using a meat thermometer- it needs to read 350 degrees F. Increase heat gradually if necessary.
Once oil is ready, drop bars in 2 at a time. Let cook for about 1-2 minutes, then turn and cook an additional 1-2 minutes on the other side. This process of cooking the doughnuts goes very fast, so have a paper towel covered plate ready to set the bars on when cooked. Bars should be a nice golden brown.
Let bars cool for a few minutes, then whisk the glaze to make sure it’s smooth enough to dip each bar. Dip the bar, then immediately turn glaze side up on a cooling rack and top with bacon bits.
Repeat this process until all bars are fried and glazed.
(recipe adapted from Butter with a side of Bread)
Please do not hold me accountable for the addiction the will come from the combination of maple flavor and bacon. Just know that you have been fore warned. Go gather your ingredients and go forward and make memories.
P.S. The entire time I was writing this blog post it kept letting me know I was spelling donut wrong okay fine…doughnut…you happy now spell check?
P.S.S. I accidently sent out this post in an incomplete state. Please forgive me and I hope you enjoy the completed one better.
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*
I have spent the last few days super excited about where The Chef In Pearls is heading. I have actually been walking around here or dare I say floating on cloud 9. I am always happiest when I can see that my passions are accepted and needed by others. The birth of Exclusive Party Of One was not easy ( financially, physically and even emotionally) but it’s here and being well received. In moving forward with this series I bring you a dish made for one, Penne Pasta in a Herb Goat Cheese sauce. I was able to do a live broadcast of me cooking this dish on Periscope. If you weren’t able to catch it I am sharing it here today with the recipe. Please keep in mind that recipes are really suggestions, not just mine but all. If there is something you don’t care for (I HATE cilantro) leave it out or substitute something else in its place (I usually use flat leaf parsley in cilantro’s place) . Get creative with it. This was a meatless dish but you could add chicken or even shrimp or whatever you like. It’s up to you. Okay enough of the yabbering. Here’s the ingredients to go along with the video above.
1 cup dry penne pasta (cooked according to package)
1 TBSP of olive oil
I cup packed spinach leaves
2-3 baby portabella mushrooms sliced
2-3 slices of red onions cut in half
1-2 oz of herb goat cheese ( depends on how rich you want the sauce)
1/3 cup half & half
zest of half of a lemon
1/2 TBSP chopped parsley
fresh parmesean cheese
P.S. If you can make this dish for one you can sure make it for two . So go invite the cute guy from down the hall over for dinner. Just a thought : )
Now go forward and make new memories.
P.S.S. If you re-create the dish please share a pic on our Facebook page @TheChefInPearls I’d love to see what you did ; )
For as long as I can remember I have been cooking for a large amount of people. My immediate family consisted of 5 people. Add in the family and friends my mother often took in to help them out in their times of need. I can still recall the first time I ever cooked anything on my own. We had family visiting from England. My Dad had decided to make pancakes for breakfast (Aunt Jemima, just add water mix) and he completely destroyed them, even though I kept telling him he was doing it wrong. Thinking he was being funny he told me, then 5, that if I thought I could do better I should. I still remember that kitchen table and how I had to pull a chair up in order to be able to mix the batter. Once the batter was done I moved my chair to the stove and proceeded to make pancakes that everyone happily ate. Everyone except my Dad who, out of pride, ate the ones he made which were burnt on the outside and doughy in the middle.
Fast forward 38 years later, I have learned how to feed larger masses. I went from cooking for hundreds to a family of three that expanded to a family of five so my cooking was always evolving. Now I am in a new place in my life. My oldest is married and moved away from home. The middle child is away at college enjoying his freshman year. The baby girl lives at home on the weekends as she uses Grandma’s as a home base for school. And I am in the middle of ending a 20 year marriage. I am appreciating how to cook for one. It is not an easy task even just trying to figure out proportions but also accepting it on an emotional level. I am not the first woman to go through this nor will I be the last.
None of these things happening around me and to my life will define me in a negative light. As with most things in my life, I am choosing to learn from it. I am using these experiences to make me a better person. I can still eat well, live life to the fullest, and enjoy this time in my life being single. It’s not a bad thing but a chance for me to re-connect with myself on so many levels. My cooking is improving and I am becoming more creative because of these changes. Cooking is actually easier for me because I don’t have to take into consideration who doesn’t like what. I just cook how and what I feel, when I feel. I get to be selfish in the kitchen and I am enjoying it.
There are so many others that are finding themselves cooking for one. It may be a recent divorcee or an empty nester, a widow or someone who chooses this life style. I want to be able to make that transition a little easier for them. The Chef In Pearls will be doing a special series just for them or rather for us. ExclusivePartyofOne, a celebration of cooking for one with me, The Chef In Pearls. I’ll showcase recipes, classes and so much more on all my social media including Periscope. So make sure to follow me on all platforms as @TheChefInPearls. Please keep an eye out for the hashtag #ExclusivePartyOfOne. You will be able to follow all of the goings by search for that hashtag. I am excited about all the things I want to share. So shake off all the negative vibes out there about cooking for yourself and where you may be in life because you’re not alone. We can and will make it through this stage of our lives better than ever.
I made this dish over a month ago . When I put the pic on social media ( i.e. Instagram, my Facebook page, food groups I participate in) I got so many hits for it. Everyone wanted to know how to prepare it. Just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke I prepared it again and posted a new pic. Same response. So in an effort to be a woman/chef of my word I created a video showing everyone how to re-create the simple yet yummy dish.
Things you’ll need to re-create dish:
Old Bay Seasoning
Cast Iron Grill Pan
Sweet Thai Chili Sauce
Please if you re-create this salmon dish share a picture on social media with me and leave me a comment on the post. Now go forward and make new memories.
The Chef In Pearls
Yesterday while at a one day business intensive class I was fortunate enough to actually taste Hawaiian Punch. No, not the stuff we’re used to seeing in the supermarkets. Actual punch all the way from Hawaii. Yes. Guess what? It tasted so good to me. To be honest I could not tell you the last time I actually had the Hawaiian Punch with the guy wearing the antler hat (the mascot). The drink I had was marketed under the name of Hawaiian Sun. It wasn’t too sweet and actually tasted fruity and refreshing. It can be gotten from, you guessed it, Hawaii and along the west coast. If you’re ever on the west coast see if you can’t get some to try or maybe order some online here.