Saturday, May 28, 2011

Blueberry Marshmallow No-Bake Torte...Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day is just around the corner, and with all the BBQ's planned hopefully all of you will have a beautiful and sunny day as we always have, here in South Florida. With all the preparations going on for this event, why would you want to spend hours in the kitchen baking pies, and cakes, when you can just whip up an "easy-breezy" spring/summer dessert, that will chill in 2 hours, and ready to enjoy!
Now, unless it's your mother's treasured recipes that were marked down in a handwritten book as in Claudia's @What's Cookin' Italian Style Cuisine from her dear departed mom's... you have got to mention that it's your own creation, or adapted from some source. As for your own creation, that really means you have memorized a recipe and are putting together by your own creativity and jotting the the instructions, and the step-by-step method, just as I have done in my last post about the Roasted peppers, which is a tried and true method from all the other failed ones I have used.
As in my case, I must confess, I steal ideas from glancing at pictures of recipes...being in the culinary profession for so many years have thought me just that...especially with request from my Private Chef experience when I literally had to plan, shop, prep, and throw together a quick gourmet meal from soup to dessert, and presented beautifully to serve for 2-4 persons (hopefully the same main course), when I see a pretty photo of a dessert, I may not follow which is in most cases, the same exact recipe and will also re-name it, and will add to the ingredients, as well. Also, I do feel that most recipes require to be adapted with different spices, or ingredients to make it your way, and you should mention that when you are posting a recipe, that is copied. Adapted-literally means that you have modified, changed, and altered it for new use.
Before I take you to the step-by-step method, and recipe, I must remember to mention, that my granddaughter Gabby, age 9...decorated the entire Torte top, with the fresh blueberries, and the freshly picked mints from their next door neighbor Dr. Eric's yard....notice the bougainvillea in the background at my daughter's house, and the cute decoration by Gabby...also the sweet mint flower, and a tiny sprig of rosemary which also had purple little flowers. The flower on the platter came from Eric's yard of 2 beautiful blooming trees. Happy, Memorial Day weekend, to all!....just don't leave yet!  ...more to come. Click on read more...

Blueberrry  Marshmallow No-Bake Torte
Totally adapted from another recipe called
Blueberry Squares by TASTEOFHOME.COM

2 cups crushed vanilla wafers (see photo on right)
5 Tablespoons (1/3 cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 Tablespoon sugar

In a food processor, crush the vanilla wafers until they resemble fine crumbs. In a medium bowl, add the crumbs and melted butter, and sugar to incorporate using  a fork, until all the butter is mixed in. In a non-stick 9 inch spring form cake pan, press evenly on the bottom. It's not necessary to have it come up on the sides...just on the bottom.
In a preheated 325 degree F. oven, bake for 12-15 minutes. Set aside, and cool.

For the Blueberry Filling:

3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 - 3/4 cup water (start with 1/2 cup first)
4 cups fresh blueberries, divided
(I used a big container from Costco)
grated lemon peel from 1 lemon
juice of the same lemon, after grating it

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Gradually add water, stirring, or whisking it until smooth .(see photo on right)
Add the grated lemon peel, and lemon juice and stir to combine.

Stir in the divided half 2 cups of blueberries...bring to a boil, and stir until thickened, adding the extra 1/4 cup of water if it gets too thick. You can see the thickness of consistency by seeing how the sauce coats the wooden in the photo on the right.

Now, you are ready to fold in the remaining 2 cups of blueberries, and give it a good careful stir, and set aside to cool completely, before layering it with the whipped cream and marshmallows.

This is the consistency of the sauce, that will thicken even more as it cools in the fridge, for about 45 minutes before filling, and layering with the marshmallow cream.

For the marshmallow cream filling, and topping:

2 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows (Kraft is the best)
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 Tablespoons confectioners' sugar

In a medium bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken.
Add the confectioners' sugar, and beat until soft peaks form. (do not over beat, or you will end up with whipped butter...LOL)
Fold in marshmallows.

Spread half the amount of the cream with the folded marshmallows into the prepared crust.

Top with the entire prepared and cooled blueberry mixture. At this point, you can leave it with the blueberry topping to cool, an set completely in the fridge, or add the last layer of marshmallow cream for the last topping, chill for 2 hours either way, with the blueberry topping, or the final marshmallow cream topping, and decorate as you wish...or as Gabby decorated it.
note: if you don't use the last layer of marshmallow cream for the topping, and wish to leave the blueberry can use the marshmallow cream to spoon extra cream when you cut the slices.

At any rate, I want to share this with you to enjoy with your family, friends, and party guests as an easy, breezy special dessert!

A Day To Count Our Blessings picture

You Will Always Be Remembered picture
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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Roasted Peppers, the Easy Way!

If I show you step-by-step how easy is to make the best roasted peppers in your own oven, I guarantee that you won't buy the jarred kind, which does not come remotely close to the homemade kind. I'm not going to convince you that it's cheap to buy red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, but if you can find a local produce market, chances are they always have bulk buys of whatever kind of vegetables that they have an abundance of, or they are getting a little too ripe, so they will put it on sale. Our local Cuban produce market has the freshest and such a variety of every kind of produce you can find.

I'm linking this to Full Plate 5-26-11 @ Miz Helen's Country Cottage

You don't want to miss out on this giveaway on Lora's blog @ Cake Duchess Honey Girl Organic Skincare products, from Hawaii. Be sure to check it out!

You can visit their website to learn more about their amazing products! There is even a video here on this page that shows how they get the honey from their own bees in Hawaii.


I was so thrilled when my daughter gave me 2 large bags of peppers, and zucchini, that she bought for $1.00 each bag from the produce market. That's what I call a real thrift buy and I am truly grateful for it.
If you love peppers as much as I do, follow me through all the steps and I will show you how easy it is to make roasted peppers.

This is where the easy part comes in. Cut the peppers in half, and clean the seeds out. Also, discard the core.
Depending how many peppers you have, Line one or two bake pans with aluminum foil.

Place the peppers facing down, and spray with cooking spray. You can also scatter some garlic cloves around them. Do not drizzle with oil, or it will get too wet. Peppers will release a lot of liquid during roasting time. You don't have to season peppers at this stage.

I would have preferred also some red and yellow, although there was one red pepper in the bunch. What can I say? This bunch cost $1.00. I am happy with this "loot." Set your oven at 425 degree F. Roast peppers for about 45 minutes, do not turn's not necessary.
When they appear wilted, and wrinkled like in the photo, you can remove from the oven.

Have a large plastic baggie ready. With a tong, remove peppers to place into the bag and snap it closed.

Put all the peppers in the bag, and let it sit in the bag for about 20 that time they will also cool down and it will be easier to peel the skin off.

Empty the peppers into a colander and place into a clean and empty sink.

Just look, how easy the skin comes off. Pile the peppers on a platter, and ready to prepare them.

These are the peeled peppers, ready to be sliced.

On a cutting board, with a small sharp knife, slice all the peppers, and line a platter decoratively.

Line a platter with the peppers, and in between the layers, drizzle a very nice extra virgin olive oil, and white balsamic vinegar.

This is the amazing White Balsamic Vinegar I used to drizzle on the peppers. Notice that it's fig infused which gave a slight sweetness. Just sprinkle with sea salt, a small amount of garlic powder, and freshly ground pepper, and you can also add a nice touch of sliced sun dried tomatoes in olive oil.

note: you can also add the roasted garlic pieces to the layered peppers. The reason I added garlic powder, because fresh garlic overpowers the sweet natural flavor of the peppers.

I like to make my own sun dried tomatoes, which I do quite often and keep in a jar, but I did find this beautiful California Sun Dried Julienne Cut tomatoes which I truly love to add to my recipes.

Just look at the beautiful vibrant colors...the sun dried tomatoes, and the roasted peppers. You can add them to sandwich, use as appetizer with crunchy pieces of bread, add them to pasta, or salad, and you can also add them to cooked vegetables...Enjoy!
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Friday, May 20, 2011

Gingered Soba Noodles with Spicy Tofu...and friends!

In my previous post, I posted my Soba Noodle Salad photo and mentioned to you that I would post the recipe later.

Well, there's more to it than that. On the day I made my Noodle Salad...actually the reason it would be called a salad is because you can it it at room temperature as well. I made a lot of these noodles. Six ounces will serve 4, but if you double the amount it will serve at least up to 8-10 servings of portion with added broccoli, and the tofu, which I also doubled. Two 8ounces of water-packed extra firm tofu.
The recipe for my Soba Noodle Salad, or the proper name for this is Gingered Soba Noodles, because you just make the dressing for the noodles, or salad, and make double or triple amount and see how far it takes you to use it for something else, as a marinade for roasted chicken...or in 3....and why?...because when you want to show your appreciation to a friend, not just what they have done for you, but because you appreciate and love them.

This is the least you can do to make them a home cooked meal knowing they too have a busy schedule and it will last a family of 4 for 2 meals at least, and lunch as well.
A triple portion of the Gingered Soba Dressing goes a long way...I used one portion for the noodles, and two extra portions, including for a third chicken which we kept for us. Leftover roasted chicken goes a long way for sandwiches, and delicious chicken salads, or for chicken soup.

Our dear friend, and neighbors to my daughter and hubby...Eric and Marisa, and their two beautiful children and their family are extended adopted choice. Eric is our veterinarian as well and takes such good care of our pets as well. He also takes good care of my beautiful kitty, Prince and doing beyond what is his duty, by personally checking his progress, since he is old and his health is failing.

When you want to buy the best organic whole chicken, you can find it at Costco, or Sam's or BJ's food club whichever you are a member of. We have a membership at Costco and they have such a huge selection of the best of everything.

I'm going to show you a step-by-step direction and recipe for both the Soba noodles, and the roasted hang on!
Gingered Soba Noodles
adapted from the Best of Gourmet Book, 1997

For Dressing:

6 ounces soba (buckwheat noodles
1 Tbsp grated fresh gingerroot
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 teaspoons Asian Sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar

Note: I used 2- 6 ounces of soba noodles, and tripled all the dressing ingredients, so I could use it on my roasted chickens as well.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the noodles. Cook till al dente, for about 6-8 minutes and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

Peel ginger, and grate it. In a medium bowl, stir together ginger, and remaining ingredients. Add part of the dressing to noodles, toss, and add broccoli florets, (opt.) spicy tofu, sliced scallions, (opt.) sliced radish chopped, or whole roasted cashews if you like, or you can roasted chopped peanuts. Single recipe serves 4.

The Spicy Tofu was adapted from Cooking Light magazine May, 2011

8 ounce water packed extra firm tofu ( I used 2)
Cut into 1/2 inch thick slices. Place tofu slices in a single layer on double sheets of paper towel..repeat layers and paper towel. Cover with last layer of double paper towel.

Set a plate over it (as you can see this is at Lora's, her signature plate) mine are all different! Let it stand for 30 minutes, remove the paper towels, and on a cutting board, cut them into 3/4 - 1 inch cubes.

For the spicy Tofu sauce ingredients:

5 Tbsp. of vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. low-sodium Tamari, or soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons of Sriracha (hot chile sauce)
Cooking Spray
(again, I double the sauce)

In an oven proof dish, set tofu pieces, and pour half the sauce over all. Set the oven on 350 degree F. oven, and bake for 15 minutes, or till lightly golden.
With a slotted spatula, remove tofu and gently fold into the noodles. Save the remainder spicy sauce for extra sauce, or for saving it for another recipe, in the fridge.

Thinly sliced radishes are added to the noodles, along with the steamed broccoli florets...not pictured!

Last but not least, I got 3 whole chickens set up to roast...2 for our friends and one for us. You could see in the background the sauce set up. I even added some pieces of garlic in the sauce.

Generously sprinkled the chicken with Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and spooned some of the sauce on the chickens. Oven, on 425 degrees F. for the first 25 minutes, and after that turn oven down to 350 degrees F. for the next 1 hour. Do not cover, and check every 15 minutes to keep spooning the dripping over the chicken. the leftover sauce can be reheated till it reduces to half the amount, and use it on the side.

Dr. Eric...our veterinarian friend, whose family I cooked the dinner for at his house, feeding a baby squirrel that he saved as the mother squirrel was run over by a car. The squirrel was just a baby and Eric was feeding him from a bottle, now a few months old, and does not want to leave Eric. The squirrel hangs out in Eric's pocket, and follows him around the house...totally domesticated.
The little squirrel was only a couple weeks old here, and clinging on to Eric's daughter's arm...and now, about 3 months old, a family member, staying in her cage at night, and happily climbing the trees in the yard, but does not want to leave the family. So unusual...never heard of such a thing!

I have a sad announcement to make!

Unfortunately, Pebbles, the baby squirrel who now is 2 months old has just passed away this morning. Dr. Eric's 10 yr old indoor-outdoor cat that has been on the "prowl"...ever since Eric saved the life of the squirrel that was with her mom squirrel when she was hit by a car, and Eric brought the squirrel home to feed and raise her. She has only been outside climbing trees, and would come back inside.

Well, this morning, her little outdoor trip ended...Michetta somehow got a hold of squirrel Pebbles, and killed her, just as he has been killing garden snakes, lizards, birds, and any little creatures for his "hunt". He is so intelligent, he knows when I go there, recognizes my car, and he is right there waiting for me, and comes to the patio to hang out.

Good bye will truly be missed.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Grilled Asparagus...and People Watching!

Asparagus is such a nice vegetable to serve so many different ways but most important that you do not over cook it, otherwise it loses it's beautiful appearance and you will also lose their benefits of their important vitamins and protein. It is an excellent source of potassium and vitamin A & C. Rich in niacin, and low in sodium.
I'm linking this to Full Plate Thursday 5-19-11 @Miz Helen's Country Cottage

If you don't want to turn on your outdoor grill for the asparagus, you can easily grill it in a cast iron skillet ...but will turn on the grill for the (ribs) skillet has been pre-greased, and preheated. All you really need to do is just wash and cut of the thick ends, season them with a little extra virgin olive oil, some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and heat on both sides for just a few minutes...
better yet, click over to Toni's blog @Boulder Locavore  and she will enlighten you with even more information on this wonderful, and beautiful vegetable. She has the most amazing blog and you will appreciate her unique and delicious things that she makes. If you would like to see another version of this beautiful vegetable, check out Kate's blog @Diethood, for her Roasted Asparagus with Bacon and Feta, and you will see how versatile asparagus can be. Also if you're craving for a really delicious and super easy tart with asparagus, you must check out Kirsten's blog @My Kitchen in the Rockies. her blog will amaze you with all the beautiful dishes she creates, and the photos, as well!

Another post of the pork spare ask? I made this Sunday at my son's house. Spent the entire day with them, and ended up cooking, which of course is "second nature" to me. They had this huge slabs of ribs from Costco. and just as I was leaving to go home brought out the ribs and asked if I can stay for dinner as well. How can you turn down spare ribs?...My son back again, from his vegetarian ways...just can't resist certain meats!
As in my previous post of the ribs, I baked them off first for at least a good 45 minutes in a 400 degree F. oven.
Cut the ribs in 4 pieces of portions, as you see on the photo, place them in an aluminum lined rimmed large baking pan.

Drizzle some vegetable oil on them, salt, pepper, garlic powder, to taste, and also some type of vinegar. (I prefer white) but they only had balsamic, which was a new try...also they were out of Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce..."no Worcestershire sauce" I asked?...that is when a good bottle of Balsamic will do the trick.
When it is ready to throw on the grill, take them out of the oven, and brush on both sides of the ribs, your favorite barbecue sauce. and literally just grill for no longer than 25 minutes. When it's ready, cut into individual pieces just as it is on the photo above...right on a large cutting board, and serve it on the board, as it is. So good, melt in your mouth amazing ribs, and so tasty, cutting and serving on a large wooden board.

Nothing beats sitting on the deck relaxing, and browsing through one of your favorite cookbooks. I'm sitting on my son's small deck in the back of their house. Everything is in a Zen, Buddhist theme. Serenity and calm. You can really just "chill" out and listen to your thoughts, and ideas!
It's so nice to just sit, and watch nature, or for that matter, people in my next photos. As I was sitting and browsing through Cara's cookbook which is from my all time favorite author whose recent book I offered as a giveaway, this is the author who I was talking about in my past post. Sheila Lukins. The New Basics Cookbook which I also had a copy of but donated it to Goodwill, is just an honest and the best recipes... without photos, but plenty of drawing illustrations. This book was originally edited in 1989, the height of my cooking/catering career. A "bible" of the best recipes that you can refer to. Now, my sweet d-in-law let me take the book home because there are a lot of recipes in there that I have used, and will bring back again.

So, let's get on to the people watching!

How often do you just sit, and watch the world go by?...Well, we all do that, otherwise we wouldn't be human. Do you ever just sit in a public place, as on a beach, a social event, or just on a bench in a park, or any public place where people come and go?...what goes through your mind, or wonder what goes through their mind? ...chances are they are just passing through and you're the one in deep thoughts checking out the individuals. There are many people out there in all shapes and sizes, nationalities, colors, and let's not define their "religion" or "no religion." The point is...
"People are strange when you're a stranger
Faces look ugly when you're alone"...LOL, let's not get into that deep, quoting from the "Doors" song, but basically
we do have to admit that some people are really strange...but that's what makes life interesting.
Sunday, May 8th, 2011...Hollywood Beach, Florida. Not to poke fun, but I do like to take photos even of my own family when they're not watching. This is where we arrived from our location in West Palm Beach, a 45 minutes ride. I was really surprised that daughter Lora, or her hubby has never seen the famous beach in Hollywood. On the left in the pink shirt is 9 yr. old granddaughter Gabby, Lora in the coral colored shirt walking, and hubby being guided by grandson Luca, age 5...lets' continue!
You can rent all sorts of fun rides, as in this 3 wheeler...single bicycles, bicycle built for 2, or 4, for that matter.
You can also rent these "sedways?" is that what you call them?...anyway these cool thing are what "mall cops" ride around in the malls...but here on Hollywood beach you can ride on them cool!
Watching people from the Turkish restaurant we were at, on the patio...happy little guys on the beach, one riding the three wheeler, the other briskly walking behind...and on the beach, more "people" watching!
You can always bring a pair of skates with this guy does, and opt for a terrific tan.
...or how about this guy?...I think he's been on a diet too long. He literally fell off this curb from flexing his "imaginary" muscles, and doing exercise on the ledge...picked himself up, and started again, just hangin' around on the ledge.
...and oh, if you have a thong bikini, by all means, show them off...LOL...and this young lady just did that.
"Pants on the ground" guy...could not get a good shot with the shadow, but then he realized someone is watching and attempted to pull his pants up!
Three elderly guys on the left...still in good physique...and a young guy jogging. Take your pick!
OK...back to the bicycles again...good work out on the beach!
You can get creative, and design your own shade and comfort with plastic and aluminum foil...just like this guy did...wonder if he takes orders to make one for you?...LOL
Just so you will feel secure...there are professional security guards all over the beach on this one in the middle!
The "rat pack" team again...watching the guy with the "pants on the ground"...or the custom style bicycle guy?...or maybe another "bikini clad" girl...whichever it was, they sure were enjoying themselves!
This is the really good restaurant where we ate our lunch...nothing fancy, not expensive...just great Mediterranean food...and watch the world go by!
Falafel platter with hummus, tomatoes, and lettuce.
Greek salad appetizer...a little too much oregano, and dill sprinkled on...but other than that, everything was so fresh, and delish!
Grilled steak, and grilled peppers and onions...the steak was share by all...the food was so good and filling!
Baba Ganoush (eggplant caviar)...with fresh homemade pitas...and more Greek salad!
Can't leave the Tabbouleh out...cracked bulgur wheat with plenty of fresh herb, such as parsley, mint, and dill, with lots of lemon juice squeezed on it, and diced tomatoes with chopped onions...yumm!
Some of us text...while some of us enjoy a nice chilled Corona beer with a piece of refreshing!
As we were leaving, couldn't ignore the local bus...or maybe a "tour bus"...taking this photo from the car. (you can see the right rear view mirror)...One fun trip in one's lifetime, with a lot of fun, and fond memories spent with your loved ones...a treasure that you share...smiles...
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