Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Agua de Jamaica #FoodnFlix

This month's FoodnFlix film is the animated film "Coco".  It is a colorful, musical account of the Festival for the Day of the Dead which takes place each November in Mexico.  This fun and thought provoking movie was chosen by Cam of Culinary Adventures with Camilla.

See the source image

I had wanted to take the Angel Face to see this when it was at the theater but never made it.  As it turns out, that was a good thing.  About halfway through the DVD she said "I don't want to watch this anymore.  Let's watch Cinderella".

So we did.  Then the next day, after she had gone home, Frank and I finished watching this movie about a young boy, Miguel, who dreams of being a musician against his families wishes.  His great grandmother, Coco, was abandoned by her father as a young girl when he went off to find fortune and fame.  The family blames the music for this and believe they should all be shoemakers as this is how Coco's mother was able to support herself and Coco after her father had left.

Miguel disobeys his family and ends up in the land of the dead where he seeks out his ancestors to try to get their blessing to play music.  Believing his great grandfather to be the famous Ernesto de la Cruz, he is on a mission to find him and enlists the help of a poor wretch named Hector who is unable to return to the land of the living because no one ever puts out his photograph.

Image result for Disney Coco Movie Characters

If you haven't seen the movie yet, pick up a copy and treat yourself.  I got my copy from the library but I believe it is available soon on Netflix.

While looking for traditional  "Day of  the Dead" recipes I found an article at AZCentral which is a branch of USA Today.  This article stated that normally a family would, as seen in the movie, place photos of their deceased loved ones onto an altar that contains all of their favorite foods.  The article went on to say that:
"A glass of water is also essential because, after the journey here, the souls are thirsty and pretty tired"
This was my inspiration for the recipe I am sharing today.  This article had many links to different recipes and one of them was this Water made with Hibiscus Flowers known as Agua de Jamaica.  It is sure to quench the thirst of the living and the dead.

I did not follow this recipe exactly.  I looked at several other recipes including the one found on the package of Hibiscus flowers that I ordered and created my own concentrate.  I then used this concentrate to make a pitcher of Agua de Jamaica.

It was refreshing and tart with just a hint of sweetness.  I then used the concentrate to make a Hibiscus Simple Syrup.  I will be sharing that recipe in another post along with the Hibiscus Martini and Hibiscus Margarita that Frank created.  Stay tuned.....

Agua de Jamaica (Hibiscus Iced Tea)

Hibiscus Concentrate:

8 c. cold water
2 c. dried hibiscus flowers
1/2 c. sugar

Place all ingredients into a large pot over med high heat.  Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.  Strain into a container and store in the refrigerator.

Hibiscus Iced Tea:

Fill a large pitcher with ice and hibiscus water until half full.  Fill to the top of the pitcher with still or sparkling water, as desired.  Sweeten with additional sugar or honey, if desired.  Print Recipe

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Build your own Sundaes.....#KitchenMatrixCookingProject

You would think that since I was choosing the themes for this month's Kitchen Matrix Cooking Project I would be happy with the options.  Hah.....That would only be true if I were paying attention to what I chose.

But no, being who I am, I decided I wanted the final week to be a dessert.  So I went to the dessert section of Mark Bittman's Kitchen Matrix Cookbook that I, Cam of Culinary Adventures with Camilla and Karen of Karen's Kitchen Stories are showcasing each week.  I saw the title "Dessert Bars" and thought that it was going to be different options for cookie bars.  It isn't.

The Dessert Bars to which Bittman was referring was a dessert bar that is set up like a salad bar where the ingredients are available and each person makes their own dessert according to their tastes.

I was originally going to do a Mini Cream Pie dessert bar but then I ran out of time. That idea will have to wait for another day.

I was having my brother and sister in law over for dinner this past Sunday so I ran to the store, grabbed all the goodies needed for an Ice Cream Sundae Bar,  I added them to the goodies already available in my refrigerator and pantry and called it a day.

As life would have it.  My sister in law was unable to join us for dinner.  My brother was though and we had a nice visit and ate so much that we didn't have room for dessert. 

This ice cream sundae bar that I'm showing you today was made just for this post.  Frank and I had an impromptu ice cream treat in the middle of the day yesterday.

The trials and tribulations of a food blogger LOL.......

Here is what the others decided to do with this challenge I gave them:

I'd like to say that in the future I will pay more attention but I know myself well enough not to make promises I probably won't keep.  It all worked out fine.  We loved our Ice Cream Sundae bar and I may use the idea during summer pool parties.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Asian Slaw for National Picnic Day #FestiveFoodies

Welcome to National Picnic Day being hosted by the founder of our Festive Foodies group, Ellen of Family Around the Table.

I didn't even know National Picnic Day existed but I do love me an outdoor gathering with family and friends so I was happy to participate in this event.

The dish I'm sharing with you today was made for one of our last picnics in 2017, our granddaughter's birthday party in September.  I made all the food for the party and this Asian Slaw was perfect because there is no cream involved.  It is delicious served chilled or at room temperature and it can set out for a while without fear of spoiling.

This colorful and tasty salad takes only moments to throw together.  The recipe is adapted from one found in Cuisine at Home.  It is healthy and sure to be gobbled up at your next gathering.

Asian Slaw
adapted from Cuisine at Home, Issue #124

1 lb. frozen shelled edamame, cooked per package directions
6 cups baby kale, shredded
2 lg. carrots, shredded
1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
1 Jalapeno pepper, seeded and deveined, mince
1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts, sliced on the bias
1/4 c. canola oil
3 T. rice wine vinegar
3 T. soy sauce
Juice from 1 lime
1 T. sesame oil
1 t. ginger paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. honey

Combine the edamame, kale, carrots, pepper, cilantro and jalapeno in a large bowl.  

Whisk together the canola oil, vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and honey.  Pour over the slaw mixture.  Toss to coat and chill or serve.  Print Recipe

More Great Picnic Ideas

Sunday, April 22, 2018

I think Spring has Sprung! Let's Celebrate with the Weekly Menu

Woohoooo....the sun is finally shining here in Michigan and the temps have leapt out of the freezing zone to the 50's.  My spirits are soaring. Tomorrow the builder and roofer will be here to start on the remodel.  I cannot wait to get my house back in order.

Image result for welcome spring

This is going to be a very different week for us.  The Angel Face and her Mama left today for vacation.  We had originally planned on using this time to go see our son, Chuck, who lives in Virginia but the weather delayed our remodel which, in turn, delays our opportunity to leave for a while.

My brother, Dick, and his wife Jackie are joining us for dinner tonight.  We will be grilling our first steaks of the season.  It's not our first grill night though because Saturday night we threw hot dogs on the grill.

The rest of the week is free because we thought we were going to be out of town so we will just be getting things done around here and enjoying the weather.

Tuesday we pick up our new vehicle.  You don't realize how much you depend on having two vehicles until you are down to only one for a while.

Here's what we're eating this week.......As you can see we are getting revved up for Cinco de Mayo with some Enchiladas on Taco Tuesday.  Do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo?  What is your favorite Mexican Food?

Hot Dogs
Baked Beans

Sunday (Friends for Dinner)
Crab Salad with Lemon/Dill Vinaigrette
Grilled Steaks
Sweet Potatoes
Grilled Asparagus
Cream Pie

Meatless Monday
Spinach Tortellini Soup

Taco Tuesday
Easy Tex-Mex Enchiladas

Kenyan Palau


Fish Friday
Fried Perch Sandwich
Pasta Salad

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Pick a Picpoul to enjoy al Fresco This Summer #FrenchWinophiles

This month, we at the French Winophiles, are showcasing Picpoul de Pinet.  Picpoul is a grape grown in the Languedoc region of France.  This exploration is being hosted by Cam of Culinary Adventures with Camilla.  Cam gave us a little Sneak Peek of the event.

I went to my closest local wine store.  The owner there is wonderful and will search out any wines that I need for these groups to which I belong.  I told him I needed Picpoul.  He was not familiar with this wine but looked it up and told me he would work on getting me some along with the other wines that were on my list.

About a week later, he contacted me and said that my wines were in however his distributor had no more Picpoul and did not know when he would get more as Picpoul has a very limited bottling.  His distributor had told him that only 900 cases of Picpoul are bottled each year.

I thought I was going to have to take a trip down to the City and try my luck there but then I got the great news that we were all being sent samples of this wine.  I received two bottles of Picpoul de Pinet.  

Today, I am showcasing the 2016 bottling from Cave de Pomerols.  It sells on for $11.99 per bottle.  I received no monetary compensation for this post and all opinions expressed are completely my own.

I have yet to open the bottle from Gerard Bertrand.  I am hoping to invite our friend, Gassan, who owns the local wine store, over to taste this wine with us just as soon as our remodel is completed.

I did share the bottle of Cave de Pomerols with our friends, the Bendas.  I served it with a Rustic Shrimp Cocktail and it paired perfectly however I think this wine is wonderful all by itself.

It pours a beautiful golden yellow.  It is crisp and dry but very smooth with no acidic bite.  It smells like a garden to me.  The first sip was very surprising as I am not use to such distinct floral undertones.  I LOVED it.  Which really kind of surprised me because I have always preferred "oaky" whites.

The first thing I thought, upon tasting this wine, was how wonderful it was going to be relaxing by the pool with a glass.  It is like sipping Summertime.  

Picpouls are known for their perfect pairings with seafood of all sorts.  The smooth floralness (is that a word?  It is now) neutralizes the salt and iodine found in shellfish.  I think it would be amazing with raw oysters.  I was hoping to do so when I open the next bottle but the "r" months are nearly over so I will wait until the fall and order up a few more bottles.

I'm very anxious to see what the others thought.  I am including links to all of their articles so you can check them out.  You are also invited to join us as we discuss our pairings today at 11 AM ET on twitter using #Winophiles and #Languedocwines.

More posts on Picpoul de Pinet

Spring Vegetable Minestrone with Chicken Meatballs #SoupSaturdaySwappers

We are celebrating Spring with Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla this month at Soup Saturday Swappers.

I wish I were celebrating Spring for real.  As I write this post we are having snow flurries here in Michigan.  It is April 17th.  I don't know that Spring is ever going to Spring.

The only good thing is that our group is sharing a slew of soup recipes today that will help keep me warm as I dream of Spring springing.

The soup I am sharing with you today is a wonderful celebration of Spring.  In fact, I first made it as the first course for our Easter dinner.  Not this past Easter but the previous Easter of 2017.  I'm not sure why I didn't share it with you at that time but.....better late than never.  Perhaps it was providence because it fits this months Soup Swapper theme perfectly.

I ground my own chicken to make the meatballs for this soup but you can certainly buy ground chicken or even ground turkey at your grocers.   I just happened to have a lonely chicken breast in the refrigerator so I used it.

The chicken meatballs really are the star of this brothy soup chock full of baby spinach, carrots and pasta.  I found this recipe in the April 2012 issue of Bon Appetit and have made it several times with great results.  

You can use any Spring vegetables you have on hand.  I often add peas, zucchini and/or summer squash with great results.  Use any small pasta you have on hand.  I used stars in the soup pictured above but have used larger, small pasta and was happier with the results.

Please stop by and see the other Spring Soup offerings linked at the bottom of this post.  You will be glad you did.

Interested in joining us on the third Saturday of each month?  Just leave a comment below with a link to your blog and I will be happy to add you to the group.

Spring Minestrone with Chicken Meatballs 
slightly adapted from Bon Appetit

6 oz. ground chicken
1/2 c. Italian seasoned dry breadcrumbs
6 T. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced, divided
1 large egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper to taste
2 T. olive oil
1 leek, white and light green, well washed, sliced into half moons
7 c. chicken broth, store bought or homemade
3/4 c. small cut pasta
2 carrots, scraped and sliced
2 handfuls baby spinach leaves

Combine the ground chicken, bread crumbs, 3 T. Parmesan, 2 cloves garlic, egg, salt and pepper.  Form into 1/2" meatballs.  I used my cookie scoop.

Heat oil in soup pot over medium heat. Add meatballs and cook until golden brown all over, 3-5 minutes. Remove from pot to a plate and set aside.

In the same pot, add the leek.  Cook and stir for a minute or two and then add the remaining two cloves of garlic.  Cook and stir, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Stir in the pasta and carrots.  Cook for about 8 minutes.  Add meatballs and cook for another 3-4 minutes until pasta is al dente, carrots are tender and meatballs are cooked through with an internal temperature of at least 165*.  

Stir in the spinach and the remaining 3 T. of Parmesan cheese.  Taste and season with additional pepper, if needed.  Garnish with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.  Print Recipe

More Spring Soups

Friday, April 20, 2018

Chimichurri Fish Tacos #FishFridayFoodies

We are sharing Latin American Fish/Seafood recipes today under the direction of  my friend, Karen of Karen's Kitchen Stories.  This is Fish Friday Foodies.

A couple of years ago, I asked some of my blogging friends to join me on my quest to add more fish and seafood to my diet.  I started this group and asked them to join me blogging a recipe on the 3rd Friday of each month.  The response was immediate and overwhelming.  Not only did they join but they volunteered to choose themes and host each month as well.  One of them even created the great graphic that you see above.

It is a wonderful group and every month I pat myself on the back for thinking of it and for offering it out to my blogging community.  They are some of the nicest and supportive people I have had the pleasure of meeting.

Of course, most of them I only know virtually, but a couple of them I have actually had the opportunity to meet in person and they have been everything I knew they would be.  We love having new members. If you are a blogger and would like to join us, just leave a comment below with your blog url and I will be happy to add you to the mix.

Chimichurri sauce is a raw sauce that originates from Argentina.  It is wonderful on grilled chicken and even steaks.  It is also amazing on fish as I discovered when I made these Seafood Skewers with Chimichurri a couple of years ago.  When I saw this month's theme I knew I wanted to revisit this sauce again.

I decided to go with Fish Tacos because Tacos=Latin America in my mind.  Most Chimichurri includes citrus juice and/or vinegar.  I did not add it this time because I wanted to marinate my fish in the sauce and I didn't want it to start cooking from the acid in the juice or vinegar.

Chimichurri normally uses Flat Leaf Parsley.  For today's version I used regular, curly parsley and added some cilantro.  You can use any white fish that you prefer. I had some Mahi Mahi in the freezer so I pulled that out.  I covered it with the Chimichurri while it was still frozen and allowed it to thaw in the marinade.

Once thawed it cooked quickly on a hot grill pan for about 5 minutes per side.

While the fish grilled, I warmed up corn tortillas in a dry cast iron skillet until they browned lightly and were warmed through.  Wrap them in a linen towel as they come out of the skillet to keep them warm.

I made a tartar sauce using Avocado Mayo, Lime Juice and Diced Jalapenos.

I tossed the tartar sauce with some shredded cabbage.

When the fish was done cooking, I broke it into chunks and placed it on the warmed tortillas.  Spooned some of the Chimichurri marinade onto each one and then garnished them with the slaw and avocado slices.

Once I started cooking, the entire meal was ready in less than 20 minutes.  They were so delicious!!! 

We had been out running errands during the day and almost went out for Mexican instead of heading home to prepare dinner.  I remembered that I wanted to make these tacos and suggested we go home instead.  I am so happy I did. 

These tacos were amazing, much better than we would have gotten at a restaurant.  Frank made us up some of his Fantastic Margaritas and we had an amazing meal that would have cost us $50 had the two of us eaten out.

You will find the links for other Latin American Fish/Seafood Recipes at the bottom of this link just in time to help you plan your Cinco de Mayo Fiesta!!

Chimichurri Fish Tacos

12 oz. Mahi Mahi (or other white fish) fillets
1 small bunch parsley
1/2 bunch cilantro 
3 cloves garlic
1/4 t. cumin
dash of crushed red pepper
1/4 c. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
6 corn tortillas
1 c. shredded cabbage
1/3 c. avocado mayo
1 T. diced, pickled jalapenos
1 t. juice from pickled jalapenos
1 t. lime juice
avocado slices, if desired

Place the parsley, cilantro, garlic, cumin and crushed red pepper in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple of times.  Add the olive oil and puree to desired consistency.  Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Place the fish into a shallow dish and cover with the Chimichurri.  Place in the refrigerator for up to 8 hrs., until ready to cook.

Spray a grill pan with cooking spray and heat over high heat.  When the pan is hot, remove the fillets from the Chimichurri allowing some to remain on the fillets and reserving the remaining marinade.  Place the fish fillets onto the grill pan and cook for about 4-5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fillets.  The fish should flip easily, if it sticks to the pan, let it cook a few minutes longer.

Heat the corn tortillas by placing a dry cast iron skillet over high heat.  Add the tortillas, one at a time and cook for about 30 seconds per side, until light brown spots appear.  Wrap in a linen towel as they are done cooking to keep warm.

Combine the mayo, jalapenos, pickling juice and lime juice in a small container.  Pour over the shredded cabbage and toss to combine.  (This can be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to serve).

When the fish is cooked, break into chunks and divide between the tortillas.  Top with the reserved Chimichurri.  Divide the slaw between the tacos and garnish with avocado slices, if desired. Print Recipe

More Lovely Latin American Fish and Seafood