Watermelon & Mint

Who would have thought that such a simple addition to fruit could completely change the taste and most likely how you’ll ever eat it!

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INGREDIENTS: 

  • Watermelon, cubed
  • Fresh mint, finely chopped

DIRECTIONS:

Place cubed watermelon in a bowl and sprinkle the mint on top. Sit back and enjoy, yep…it’s that simple and I promise you’ll never look back!

Measurements were left out intentionally because you can make a small bowl or a giant one for a party!

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Coleslaw

Looking for that quick and easy addition to your pulled pork dinner?  Well, here it is!  This coleslaw turned out wonderfully refreshing, crisp and the perfect combo of sweet and spice.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 bag coleslaw mix (16oz)
  • 2 tbsp. diced onions
  • 2/3 cups Miracle Whip
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp. vinegar
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt
  • Freshly grated black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Combine coleslaw and onion in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl mix the remaining ingredients and pour over coleslaw mix toss to coat.  Chill for at least 2 hours prior to serving.

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Buen Provecho!

Sweet Potatoes (Baby Food)

After feeding our twins organic bottled baby food I decided I’d simply make my own. I buy organic veggies, bake or steam and smash. Place in container, label and store. It’s easy, quick, and oh so healthy for those little tummies!  The first attempt was sweet potatoes, here goes nothing!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1-2 organic sweet potatoes
  • Foil
  • Food processor

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Wash your potato, with a fork poke a few holes then wrap in foil.  Place potatoes on a baking sheet and into the oven.

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Let the potatoes bake for 30-60 minutes (time varies based on size and quantity).  Once done, allow to cool.  Remove skin from potatoes and place into food processor, blend to desired consistency.

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Store in airtight containers, I’m using the OXO tot containers, which I love! They were $9.99 for 6, 2.5oz containers. This food will keep for 3 days in the fridge or you can freeze for a longer time.

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Side Note:  I purchased the food processor as an impulse buy at the Del Mar Fair a couple years ago, I used it once before now.  It so far has been the BEST $10 I’ve ever spent. There is not one fancy thing about it, but it gets the job done and best of all it’s manual therefore…NO NOISE!  I can prep the food as the babes sleep.  The OXO Tot blocks are so far my favorite, I also have the Sage Spoonfuls but the container feels flimsy compared to this one.  I recently purchased labels in order to name/date the foods I prep.

Lentil Bruschetta Appetizer

This appetizer came from the friendly lady at Trader Joe’s.  I was hosting our usual facial night in conjunction with my pre-birthday celebration and wanted a Mediterranean style theme.  Trader Joe’s is usually my go-to store for cheeses since it’s right down the street and they have a good selection.  The sample food for the day were these tasty lentil appetizers which automatically caught my eye. I love lentils, feta and bruschetta and have never thought to combine them.  It’s an appetizer bursting with flavor and one you cannot go wrong with!

Lentil app

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups lentils (Trader Joe’s, frozen section)
  • 1 cup bruschetta (if using Trader Joe’s brand use the whole container)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup feta, crumbled
  • 2-3 basil leaves, finely sliced
  • Crostini or crackers for topping

DIRECTIONS:

The lentils should be thawed, break them apart so they’re lose.  Mix the first three ingredients in a bowl.  Top your crostini or crackers with a spoonful of the mixture and sprinkle with basil.  Yes, it’s that easy!  No cooking and you end up with a delicious and creative appetizer.

Tasty Additions:  Aside from the lentil appetizer, I put together a cheese and meat board and another with fruit, pita, hummus, olives, dark chocolate covered almonds and dried apricots.  I added a splash of olive oil and seasoned feta to the hummus for an added kick of flavor.  I also marinated the olives in a citrus olive oil for an additional layer of flavor.

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Stuffed Dates

How good does this sound; dates, manchego cheese and bacon?  Say no more, you have all aspects covered, sweet, salty and bacon!  This is a perfect appetizer for bachelorette, bridal shower, birthday party, cocktail party, or any party at all!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 16 dates (pit removed)
  • Manchego cheese (cut in ¼” pieces, 16 total)
  • 6 Bacon slices
  • Toothpicks

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut a small slit into each date to remove the pit.

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Cut your bacon into 3 pieces.  Place a piece of cheese in each date and wrap a piece of bacon around, securing with a toothpick.

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Place each wrapped date on a baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes or until done.  Enjoy with your beverage of choice!

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Chiles Rellenos de Camaron

Cooking is about experimenting and trying out new ingredients, flavors, concepts and much more.  Have you noticed that many of us eat certain foods often however we never make them ourselves?   This is more or less the case with the chiles gueros.  I’ve made them once following Chef Marcela Valladolid’s recipe “Shrimp Stuffed Chiles” it’s delicious!  On this particular evening I was craving the fried shrimp stuffed chiles we had with our friends while visiting Yuma.  Not wanting to get into deep frying I crafted my own version of shrimp stuffed chiles. The result was a delicious bite of flavorful cheesy goodness!   

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 chiles gueros
  • ½ lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • ¼ cup onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup of salsa casera (I used ½ of a small can of Herdez brand)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ Tbsp. garlic powder
  • Monterrey jack cheese, cut into ¼-½” thick pieces
  • ½ jalapeno (optional)
  • Lime wedges (optional)

 

DIRECTIONS:

Add a tablespoon of olive oil in a cast iron skillet (or heavy skillet of your choice) and set to medium-high heat.  Add the chiles and fry, turning frequently, until golden brown on all sides. Transfer to paper towels to drain and set aside.  This process takes roughly 6-8 minutes depending on the size of your chiles. 

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In a separate pan over medium heat, add another tablespoon or so of the olive oil and bring. If using the jalapeño toss it in seed side down, the spiciness will infuse the oil and add another layer of flavor.  Add the chopped onions and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic, salt and pepper and sauté. Add the shrimp, salsa casera, and garlic powder; cook until pink and cooked through. Taste your sauce and determine if you need more salt and pepper.  This step takes about 8 minutes. 

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Cut a lengthwise slit in each chile as well as two small slits across the top, to make a “T” and carefully scoop out the seeds, leaving the stem intact. (For milder heat, carefully cut out the ribs).  Add a slice of cheese and add the shrimp filling into each chile. 

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Place your stuffed chiles in a baking dish or pan and roast on 375 for 8-10 minutes.  When they’re done sprinkle with lime and enjoy!

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Chef Marcela’s recipe http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/marcela-valladolid/shrimp-stuffed-chiles-recipe.html

Cream Cheese and Pineapple Habanero Dip

This is possibly the easiest appetizer/dip you’ll ever make.  There are literally two ingredients (not including the crackers) and you’re done! 

INGREDIENTS:  

DIRECTIONS:

Allow the cream cheese to come to room temperature. Pour the sauce over cream cheese and serve with crackers.  You can also spread the cream cheese on a platter and top with the sauce. 

Side Note:  I like the Costco brand sauce, but any sweet & spicy sauce/jelly will work for this appetizer.

Sauce

Salmon Avocado Salad

This recipe is healthy, quick and delicious!  It’s full of omega-3 and leafy greens which add vitamins and nutrients to this salad.  Using left over salmon makes for a quick and convenient lunch or dinner.  The measurements will vary based on how many you’re serving and of course how much salmon you have left over.  The ingredients below are for 1-2 people.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4oz salmon, cooked
  • 2 cups spring mix or baby greens salad mix
  • ¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/3 – ½ avocado

 

DRESSING:

 

DIRECTIONS:

Chop the left over salmon into bite size pieces.  You may warm up the salmon or serve at room temperature. 

Plate the salad and top with salmon, avocado & feta.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper (to taste).  Drizzle with dressing mixture.  Finish with a sprinkle of fresh cracked black pepper.  Enjoy your guilt free lunch or dinner. 

For the Dressing:

Mix all of the ingredients until fully combined.  The quantity listed makes about 4 servings of dressing.

Greek Pico De Gallo

This appetizer was inspired from the ladopsomo I remember having at Athens Pizzeria in Panama City Panama.  They add a generous portion of shredded chicken on top, which almost makes it a meal; but you have to try the pizza! Ladopsomo itself is a type of Greek fry-bread that’s puffy, light and crisp.  I needed an appetizer to go along with my Greek Chicken Pasta, and this combination came together perfectly!  The flavors combine wonderfully, this would be a great summer appetizer.  Not to mention, it’s healthy!

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INGREDIENTS:

DIRECTIONS:

The cucumber, tomato and onion need to be finely diced.   In a medium size bowl, add the cucumber, tomato, onion, oil and vinegar as well as a dash of salt and pepper.  Allow the ingredients to marinate for 5 minutes or so and then add the feta and olives.  Let the mixture marinate and come together prior to adding more salt, remember the feta and olives provide a good amount of saltiness. 

When you’re ready to serve, spread a thin layer of tzatziki on the center section of a shallow dish and spoon the marinated veggies on top.  (You may want to drain the veggie mixture prior to spooning over tzatziki otherwise your pitas will become soggy).  Drizzle olive oil over your pita bread and toast or grill; cut into triangle wedges.  I use the broiler setting, if you do this be sure to keep an eye they can burn very fast.  Line the outer portion of the dish with the pita bread.  Sit back and watch your guests devour this one!

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Feel free to add more or less ingredients, go ahead and adjust to your taste.  Remember recipes are a guide; customize your meal to your preference. 

Fried Plantains

Looking for a tasty and quick side, appetizer or snack?  Try fried plantains!  In Panama we eat these regularly whether ripe or green they are delicious and easy.  In Panama we call them “patacones” other countries call them “tostones.”  Whatever you’d like to call them they’re an easy and tasty addition to any meal.

To the untrained eye, plantains can be mistaken for bananas, however they must be cooked; they cannot be eaten raw.  Green plantains can be a bit difficult to peel while the riper ones are a cinch.  Plantains are used in a variety of dishes to include desserts.  Ripe plantains are very sweet and can me cooked in a variety of ways.  In this recipe I’ll show you how to peel and cook a green plantain.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 green plantain
  • Oil for frying
  • Salt
  • Pepper (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Fill a frying pan with enough oil to cover the plantains about halfway.

Using a sharp knife, slice off the ends then slit the skin from tip to tip, making 2-3 slits depending on the girth of your plantain.

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Peel the skin sideways removing all of the skin from the plantain.  Cut the plantain in 1-1.5” pieces.

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Once the oil has reached the right temperature about 325 degrees, carefully add the plantains and fry until golden yellow in color, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes per side.

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Once slightly golden on each side remove the plantains and place on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up the oil.

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Using the back of a wooden spatula or the bottom of a wide coffee mug (my preference), or an actual “tostonera” flatten each 1-1½” piece and sprinkle with salt.

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Bring the oil back to 325 degrees and carefully place the flattened plantains back in the oil to finish cooking for another 2-4 minutes.  Remove and place on a paper towel to soak the excess oil and serve immediately.

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Enjoy with salt and pepper, garlic mojo, or good ole’ ketchup!