AVOCADO SALAD

I stumbled across three recipes today and they all looked so delicious that I had to try it! I’ve been trying to eat healthier and I’m on the search for easy and delicious recipes. I ate this salad for dinner with turkey that I seasoned with spicy taco seasoning mmmhmmmm!

Here’s the recipe

1 lb Roma tomatoes

 1 English cucumber 

1/2 medium red onion, sliced 

2 avocados, diced 

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or sunflower oil 

Juice of 1 medium lemon (about 2 Tbsp)

 1/4 cup (1/2 bunch) cilantro, chopped

1 tsp sea salt or 3/4 tsp table salt 

1/8 tsp black pepper 

DIRECTIONS 

Gently stir all the ingredients together, add the salt and pepper just before serving.

AU GRATIN POTATOES

Au gratin potatoes is an easy dish that goes with almost anything! The ingredients are cheap and you probably already have them in your pantry or fridge! This is a slightly lightened version *so I can eat a little more of it yay me!*. Give this a try if you’re bored of the same old mashed potato as a side every week. *I still love you mashed potatoes, you complete me!* 💕

We had this yummy cheesy potato dish with cajun grilled salmon and roasted garlic asparagus!  Here’s my salmon stealing superhero Hailey ❤ 😀DSC_6107

INGREDIENTS

    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
    • 1 -2 tablespoon flour
    • 2 cups low fat milk
    • 2 lbs potatoes, thinly sliced
    • 2 cups shredded low-fat cheese ( I use extra sharp cheddar and mozzarella)
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1teaspoon black pepper
  1. DIRECTIONS
  2. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Thinly slice potatoes (I used my food processor, I love that thing)906709_10155507786105431_3595937942901911516_o
  4. Coat a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
  5. Melt butter in a large frypan over medium heat; add in onion and cook stirring occasionally until onion begins to brown (about 5 minutes).11206619_10155507786060431_8762224442090326059_o
  6. Stir in flour, then slowly add in milk.
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  8. Add in potatoes; stir to mix; bring to a boil.
  9. Stir in 1 cup cheese, salt and black pepper.11148832_10155507786470431_6750918319184762305_o
  10. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish then spread out.
  11. Bake for 1 hour uncovered.
  12. After 1 hour cooking time cover with foil and continue to bake another 20 minutes more.
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  14. Change oven to broil heat.
  15. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over potatoes and broil 6-inches from heat until the cheese is golden (about 1-2 minutes).10854295_10155507786915431_1677532549819606027_o
  16. Cool 5 minutes before serving
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BLACK BEANS

When I moved to the United States, I was amazed at the variety of foods! Almost every country’s dishes could be found. Immediately I was drawn to Mexican food, my first experience was Taco Bell and needless to say I was sorely disappointed until I had the real deal at a small authentic Mexican restaurant that didn’t even serve cheese on their tacos! The little lady chef muttered “That’s for Americans! We no do that in Mexico!”

I was blown away, the intense flavors, the spiciness, the savoriness and the desserts Oh my goodness! Give me a coconut macaroon every day please! or maybe a cream filled churro dipped in a ton of cinnamon and sugar *drool* but I digress. Since Mexican food is quickly becoming a favorite, I’ve tried to make a few dishes myself. I found this black bean recipe on Food Network. It’s pretty basic, but very tasty and it goes great with tacos, burritos, carne asada, mexican grilled chicken or by itself! I just love the different shades of purple and navy you see after soaking, so pretty 🙂

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Ingredients
1 pound dried black beans, rinsed and picked over
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, halved and seeded
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican
Kosher salt
Queso fresco and fresh cilantro, for topping (optional)

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Directions

  1. Soak the beans in a pot of water overnight. Drain.
  2. Heat the olive oil in the pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeno and cumin and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. 11232373_10155538310335431_92394095838773082_o
  3. Add the oregano and the beans, then add enough water to cover (about 9 cups). Increase the heat to medium high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low, partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are just tender, about 3 hours. (Usually takes about 90 mins but some beans are just difficult 🙂 )  11234826_10155538309220431_3610207200900571750_o
  4. Add 2 teaspoons salt and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is mostly absorbed, about 45 minutes. Season with salt. Let sit 15 minutes before serving; top with queso fresco and cilantro, if desired.11145064_10155538306350431_8649880011039190911_o10931639_10155095922915431_9103119380237797008_o

MEXICAN RICE

This here is my absolute favorite Mexican Rice recipe, it turns out perfect every time and I always make extra to freeze for later meals. The rice smells amazing while its being cooked but at the end when you throw in the fresh cilantro and jalapenos and a squeeze of lime juice, the flavor goes over the top! A must try! I’m sure you will also add this recipe to your regular rotation!

I usually make this rice with black beans, pico de gallo, guacamole and carne asada!

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INGREDIENTS

  •  12 ozs tomatoes, very ripe and cored
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 3 medium jalapenos
  • 2 cups long grain white rice (I used brown)
  • 1cup canola oil
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste (may omit if using canned tomatoes)
  • 1 tsp tomato and chicken bouillon (optional)
  • 1 1teaspoons salt
  • 1cup fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1 lime
 DIRECTIONS
  1. Adjust rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350.
  2. Process tomato and onion in processor or blender until pureed and thoroughly smooth. Transfer mixture to measuring cup and reserve exactly 2 cups. Discard excess.11255535_10155538307265431_2976728615470210383_o
  3. Remove ribs and seeds from 2 jalapenos and discard. Mince flesh and set aside. Mince remaining jalapeno. Set aside.
  4. Place rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until water runs clear- about 1 1/2 minutes.Shake rice vigorously to remove excess water.This step removes the starch from the rice so it will not stick. IF YOU OMIT THIS STEP YOUR RICE WILL NOT BE DRY AND FLUFFY.
  5. Heat oil in heavy bottomed ovensafe 12 inch straight sided sautee pan or Dutch oven with tight-fitting lid over low-medium heat about 2 minutes.( I just used a regular frying pan and transferred to a glass dish covered tightly with foil). Drop a few rice grains in and if they sizzle then it is ready. Add rice and fry stirring until rice is light golden and translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Be careful that the oil doesn’t get too hot too fast or the oil will splatter.10845871_10155095921315431_5041143329489425294_o
  6. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and 2 minced jalapenos and cook , stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes.
  7. Stir in broth, pureed mixture,tomato paste, and salt. Increase heat to medium high, and bring to a boil.
  8. Cover pan and transfer pan to oven to bake until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 30-35 minutes.Stir well after 15 minutes. ( I didn’t have an oven safe pan so i transferred rice mixture to a baking dish tightly covered in foil)1269366_10155538307680431_3718644683125039388_o
  9. Stir in cilantro, minced jalapeno to taste, and pass lime wedges separately.
  10. Edited 8-15-08: Leftovers are just as delicious the next day so this is a perfect dish to make ahead time for potlucks. This rice also freezes well. For Freezing Ahead: Cool, portion and freeze in a ziploc bag. To reheat from frozen: Place in a pyrex dish and warm in the microwave, stirring every 2-3 minutes until heated through

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BASIL AND BABY SPINACH PESTO

For a long time I caught myself in a food rut, I would make the same thing every other week and even though the food tasted good we were all getting a little bored. If I left it up to my 4 year old, he would eat pizza every night and not complain * then again, who would?!*. So I decided to try one new recipe every week to break up the monotony.

This week I though I would try this Basil Pesto recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I made a couple of changes because my poor little basil plant looked  a bit naked after I picked a cup’s worth of leaves 😀

I mixed the pesto with penne and grilled some chicken breasts, my son made a salad and we had a quick and easy dinner! It was very tasty and both kids thought it was so cool to eat alien green pasta 😀

Ingredients:

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  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts (i used toasted walnuts)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt and fresh ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Blend the basil, spinach, pine nuts, cheese, and garlic together in a food processor or blender. Pour oil in slowly while still mixing (or a little at a time, then mix, then more oil, then mix again, etc). Scrape down the sides, then add lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Pulse until everything is blended together and relatively smooth. Taste and add more salt/pepper if desired.11059555_10155465329315431_1961515948782417702_o1522819_10155465329410431_2926072482058021621_o11141124_10155465329030431_1796391813302743001_o11008807_10155465329025431_6305651781852818019_o

I’m bringing this dish to Fiesta Friday hosted by  Dini @ Giramuk’s Kitchen and Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau 

JERK PORK

I absolutely love Jamaican food, but jerk pork is one of my favorites, it’s so spicy, savory and juicy and mouth watering and you get the point! Pair this up with some rice and peas and salsa and fried plantains and a couple festivals *a sweet fried dough* and BAM! You’re an islander ha!

The best part is how easy it is to make! My marinade of choice is Walkerswood Jerk Seasoning. I let my pork marinate for a day or more, and then I toss it in the oven at 350 F for 35 mins, and then move the pork to the grill over medium low heat. Baste with your favorite BBQ sauce and let the meat slowly cook and the sauce to caramelize beautifully. Let cool, then cut and serve.

INGREDIENTS

  • Country style pork ribs ( you can use chops too)
  • Jerk seasoning marinade *I prefer Walkerswood hot and spicy*
  • Lime juice

DIRECTIONS

  • Wash the pork with lime juice.
  • Add 1-2 ozs of marinade  per pound of pork.*I love Walkerswood jerk marinade but there are other brands*
  • Massage marinade into meat. *please wear gloves if you don’t want your hands to be on fire*
  • Let pork marinate for at least 2 hours or over night for intense heat and flavor.
  • Bake pork at 350F for 30 mins. Reserve about 1/4 cup of drippings.
  • Add the drippings to 2 cups of your favorite BBQ sauce and reduce.
  • Put pork on grill over medium to low heat and baste with your sauce.
  • Cook until finished!

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JAMAICAN RICE AND PEAS

Let me start off by confusing you! This dish isn’t actually made with peas, it’s made with beans, red beans, also called kidney beans! Are you still there? *crickets chirping* PERFECT! I love Jamaican rice and peas, with jerk pork or jerk chicken or escovitched fish and fried plantains with a side of festivals *a sweet fried dough*.

I’ve had a lot of exposure to Jamaican foods. I worked at JAMWEST Caribbean foods for a while and the best part was getting to eat all the delicious food everyday and listening to Jamaican Patois that I could barely understand, and listening to stories from Chef Patrick while he cooked corn meal porridge :). It was truly amazing watching the giant pots of rice and barrels of jerked meats being cooked, and that rum cake from Miss Verona was so divine. Oh and how could I forget about the patties, and fresh juices and hiding in the walk in fridge to ‘sample’ dishes and getting locked inside hehehehe. Good times!

Here’s a much smaller recipe for rice and peas
  • 8 ounces small dried red beans or 8 ounces red kidney beans
  • 1 quart water
  • 16 ounces chicken broth or 16 ounces chicken stock or 16 ounces water
  • 1cup coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1cup white onion, chopped
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2  teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper (left whole) or you can slice it if you want lots of heat!
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 1cups uncooked long grain rice

DIRECTIONS

  1. Rinse and sort beans and place in a stockpot.
  2. Cover with several inches of water and soak overnight,-or- bring to a boil, boil gently for 3 minutes, then remove from heat, cover, and allow to sit undisturbed for 1 hour.
  3. Drain and rinse beans.
  4. Bring to a boil with chicken stock, water, and coconut milk.
  5. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours or until beans are tender and creamy.
  6. Add the thyme, allspice, scallion, onion, garlic, scotch bonnet, brown sugar, uncooked rice, salt and pepper.
  7. Check the level of liquid over the rice and make sure there is at least one inch of liquid (if not, you may add water or broth to cover).
  8. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until rice is tender.
  9. Serve hot as a side dish.
  10. For vegetarian,use water not the chicken broth or stock.

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I served the rice and peas, along side jerk pork, which is cooked pretty much the same way as jerk chicken and a tropical salsa! Put some calypso music on in the background and I felt like I was back at home 🙂11064670_10155442019540431_2611953002881183454_o

TROPICAL SALSA

I love love love salsa and this tropical spin is so fresh and perfect on grilled meats! I’m making this to go along with Jamaican jerk pork. My tummy is going to be happy tonight!

  • 2 cups fresh pineapple, chopped
  • 1 semi-ripe mango, chopped
  • 1 kiwi, chopped
  • 1cup purple onion, chopped
  • 1cup fresh cilantro, chopped (or to taste)
  • 1/2  tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped fine (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon rum (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon jalapenos (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Put all ingredients in a bowl, mix it up, and let it sit for a little bit to allow the flavors to mingle.

So easy!

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My family had this salsa, with jerk pork and Jamaican rice and peas!

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I’m bringing this dish to Fiesta Friday because every fiesta needs salsa!   The party is hosted at blogFiestaFriday.net.Thanks to the new co-host Anna @Anna International! For having us!

DHAL

Dhal, a staple in Trinidadian cooking. We make this dish alongside curries or to be eaten alone like a soup or with roti *flat bread*. It’s healthy, flavorful and filling.

So funny story, when I was a teenager I was a bit rebellious *What? Really?! No way!*… I know, hard to believe right!? Anyway, my mom was forcing me to learn how to cook and I wanted no part of it, so I was throwing a hissy fit about cooking dhal and deliberately doing it wrong so she would just get mad at me and shoo me away. Well….she didn’t and I got a pot spoon thrown at me and she made me count each grain of dhal *split peas* in the package! Ever since then I’ve hated dhal and refused to make it! *Yeah! I’ll show her!!*

Years later, I’m pregnant and craving dhal and I didn’t know how to make it! According to Caribbean superstition, when you get pregnancy cravings and you don’t satisfy it, your child will be born with a birthmark shaped like what you were craving! And I was not about to have a child with a dhal birthmark on his head! 😁

Luckily my sister Giselle was visiting me and she is the best dhal maker I know *Yeah! Take that mom!!*, so I paid close attention and wrote down this recipe. I like my dhal not too thick and not too runny, just in the middle.

RECIPE
1 cup yellow split peas
2 1/2 cups water
7 grains garlic
1/2 onion chopped (medium)
1/2 habanero pepper ( keep whole if you want the flavor and not the heat)
1/4 tsp saffron powder
2 pimento peppers finely chopped (or you can use jalapeños)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp whole geera (cumin)

DIRECTIONS

1. Soak split peas for a couple hours and drain.
2. Boil 2 1/2 cups of water and then add the peas.
3. Add the 5 garlic grains, onion, peppers and saffron powder.
4. Let boil until peas are very soft and tender.
5. In a small pan, heat oil and add 2 grains garlic and geera, let it brown over low heat.When the garlic is brown, carefully pour the oil mixture into your split peas. (This process is called chunkaying)

6. Whisk the mixture or puree until smooth and add salt to taste (about a tsp)

TIP: If your dhal is too thick you can add hot water until you get to your desired texture.

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HOW TO COOK THE PERFECT BACON

OK! Firstly, there is no such thing as imperfect bacon! Bacon is a divine fruit of the universe! I love bacon in any form… plain bacon, peppered bacon, brown sugar and cinnamon bacon, Canadian bacon *we’ll just let that one slide one time*, candied bacon, burnt bacon and I could go on!.. And I will! …Hot bacon, cold bacon, fell on the floor but I’ll eat it anyway bacon 😂😂😂😂 OK I’ll stop now…

I’m sure you’ve probably seen the new craze on the internet about boiling your bacon *gasp!* I was so on the fence about that, but I said to myself ” SELF, if this method produces bacon as an end result, then it could never be wrong!”

So I’ve given it a try andddd its fabulous! The fat renders beautifully *you better save it for some fried chicken!! High five!!!*… the bacon crisps up perfectly and the color is even! If you’re a floppy bacon lover, this might not be for you, but who are we kidding, it’s BACON!

Here’s how to make it, make a single layer of bacon in your pan, don’t overcrowd those precious babies! Put in just enough water to cover them, *you know, a little bird bath action, don’t pretend you have no idea what that is! I’ve got my eye on you!*

Put the pan over a high heat until it starts to boil, then lower to a medium heat. When the water starts drying up go to a low heat and then flip until you get that beautiful color! Easy peasy!

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