Healthy and delicious hamburgers for summer

Now I know most people would love a nice juicy beefy hamburger at a barbecue. Or, at any summer gathering, people would just expect anything grilled with all the “fixins.” Well, I thought of a healthy version of a delicious hamburger, and you won’t be missing any flavor with this version.

Turkey! I know, I know, you’re probably thinking “how can I sink my teeth into a turkey burger.” Well, adding certain flavors to the ground turkey will make such a difference. This burger will make your mouth water.

Ingredients

1 lb Ground turkey

Onions or scallions

Dried thyme

Dried rosemary

2 eggs

Light ranch dressing or light Mayo

Part skim mozzarella cheese

Flat leaf raw spinach

Thomas English muffins

Salt/pepper to taste

Pickles

Canola oil

How to make

Put the ground turkey in a bowl, add your seasonings: chop onions or scallions, (medium cut) thyme, rosemary,’salt and pepper. Add the eggs and combine/mix throughly.

This recipe yields about 4 hamburgers, so evenly separate you ground turkey into thick hamburger patties.

Heat up your grill pan with canola oil.

Brown both sides about two to three minutes, place cheese on top of hamburgers, then put in oven for 6 to 8 minutes to finish cooking through.

Toast the English muffins in a toaster.

Prepare your hamburgers like so: English muffin, turkey burger, raw spinach, pickles, ranch dressing.

You can substitute or add tomatoes or an egg to this recipe, but keep it healthy.

Delicious turkey burgers

LIFE: Live it, Love it, Embrace it!

It’s been awhile since my last blog. Unfortunately, I had a close death in my family. I’m actually still going through the “Emotions” of my niece’s death. She was a beautiful young woman who didn’t realize she had the world at her feet. Although I was 9 years older than her. She was my partner in crime, my ride or die, my protector, my advisor, but most importantly, she was my friend.

Basically, what I’d like to express in this article is, life is meant to be lived. I’ve recently had the honor, blessing, luck what ever you want to call it, of retiring early. At first it was actually a little difficult to fill up my days, and wondering if it was the right decision. Hummmm, we’ll, working 40 years, and doing double tasks during a few of those years, with decisions of going back to school several times. Yes! My body has taken a beating, I’m punching the time clock for the last time.

Having all this time on my hands, actually made me feel uninspired. I mean really, there’s so much Netflix you can watch! That’s just me. I’ve been wanting to plan a trip for myself, and do something adventurous, something I’ve never done before. Then, my niece’s death. I’m so dealing with the pain of my loss of her. But, I know she wouldn’t want me to be down, especially on her account. I’d know she’d feel that way.

As time passes for me, and I’m probably overthinking things, but I think life is just a bunch of decisions we make. We can decide to be uninspired, and waste away. Or, we can choose inspiration, and live to embrace an experience in life that will challenge you. Because, quite frankly it really makes me feel better to know or learn more of the person I am. I’ve always felt that when I would “go for it,” “go for the challenge!” (start my own business, which I’ve done, travel far away countries, which I have done, or go back to school, which I have done). Not being scared to do something that will build confidence. Well, it taught me to make better decisions for myself, because, life is just too short not to push yourself to a next level. I realize that I’m stronger than I think I am.

Although we go though life with struggles, I’m understanding that if I wait for a struggle to pass, time may not be on my side. And, then I would of missed out on a one in a lifetime experience, waiting for struggles to pass, emotions to pass, or even depression to pass.

I promised myself I was going to take better care of me when I retire. So I’ve started to introduce a little exercise in my life. Gonna write that cookbook I was supposed to start 6 months ago. And, I’ve “decided” to also do a healthy cookbook as well. I’d also like to book a trip to Thailand, what an adventure that would be.

Make life now!

My niece Veronica and I. Thanksgiving 2013. In loving memory.

Six Ingredient Dish Series!#1 Pasta Salad

I’m starting a six ingredient series of light, (and, maybe heavy depending on my mood) dishes. Because, I’m wanting to eat more healthy this first dish is packed with vegetables! But, I’m definitely interested in flavor, and this dish has all that!

Seriously! This dish is simple and full of flavor! If you know how to boil water, you got this one in the bag. This dish is great for a small ladies group gathering or a luncheon.

What I love about this dish is you can substitute so many ingredients, however six is the limit, because you don’t want to lose the integrity of the flavor profile.

Ingredients

Penne

Olives

Cucumbers

Shrimps (pre made)

Roster red peppers (pre made in a jar)

Dill

Condiments

Salt/pepper/olive oil

How to make

Cut up vegetables medium dice

Slice olives in half

Cook pasta to package instructions

Just cut up leafy part of dill

Literally! Toss everything together. Add olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

Like I said before, this dish can be substituted with all kinds of veggies and homemade dressings.

Eat and enjoy!

Eating more healthy for Spring

Salmon with a green salad

Grilled salmon with green salad

Yes! It’s that time of year to start eating healthy. Have you noticed the weather is becoming bright, and sunny. To me that represents newness. We’ve couched potato our way through winter, now the challenge has begun to start eating clean!

Ingredients

Salmon

Mixed greens

Scallions

Avocado

Chives

Cucumbers

Alfalfa sprouts

And, your imagination!

Country fried smothered pork chops!

Smothered pork chop

Happy New Year everyone. I know it’s been a while since my last post. However, it’s never too late to share some good recipes. Well, it looks like the pandemic has picked up again. Don’t mean to be sarcastic, life is still so different as we knew it. Yet, we are still dealing with the unknown of how our world is turning.

When I hear that the country is “lightly” locking down. I think of “ok, quarantine time again.” At least I’m not having an anxiety attack when I continue to hear the word “pandemic” or, “numbers are up.” I actually think of being home and cooking some good food! Hey! We have to still make the best of what’s going on in the world. Cooking is my staying calm and collected in a situation I have no control over.

Although, I would rather be traveling, and experiencing tasting dishes from other Countries. I will do my best to bring you recipes that have a meaning to my culture and other cultures. Especially, cultures that are right here in my own country.

Although this dish “country fried southern pork chops” would probably be considered a “southern dish”, and that it is! However, the “sauce is French. My take on that situation is that after the Louisiana trade, Louisiana, especially New Orleans still kept their French ways of cooking. The sauce is called etouffee. Basically, a roux (rue). This sauce is one of the first things you’ll make in culinary school. I always knew I’d make it again. It’s so hearty and delicious!

Although my “country fried smothered pork chops” is an American dish. It was derived from France. I like that! The idea of cultures, especially food recipes that can stay alive and reach delicious possibilities of so many families. It’s such an infinite process of our world.

Ingredients

4 bone-in half inch pork chops

Flour for dredging

Seasonings – adobo, garlic powder, sazon, salt & pepper.

1/2 cup Oil for frying

Roux ingredients

2/3 cup flour

3 tablespoons butter

5 or 6 cups water or chicken stock

I whole white onion

Salt and pepper to taste

Pork chops drippings

How to make

Season the pork chops with all the dry ingredients. add oil to frying pan, let get hot, dredge pork chops in flour and fry 5 minutes on each side. Place in I’ve for 10 to 15 minutes.

Set pork chops aside and use pork drippings to make your roux.

Add the flour to drippings and whisk add butter and onions (cook onions through). Cook down for few minutes then add the water or stock, and cook for few more minutes. Note: more stock may have to be added as the roux should have a thick, yet loose consistency.

Add salt,!pepper and garlic powder to taste.

Country fried smothered pork chops

Add pork chops to roux or plate it by pouring over chops in a platter. Enjoy!

Bean thread/Pad Thai

Bean thread Pad Thai

This dish takes me back almost 30 years. I remember when I was working as a secretary in downtown Brooklyn. Every pay day, a coworker and I use to splurge for lunch, and we’d go to this Taiwan restaurant. I’d order this noodle dish, every week. However, it took me a while to work my way to trying a different culture of food. I was use to Chinese food that was usually the whole in the wall restaurant, where my idea of an Asian dish was chicken wings and pork fried rice. But, it’s not the Resturant’s fault that they have to adapt to what the neighborhood whats the most. However, my horizons were limited.

I forgot the name of the Taiwanian restaurant. But, I believe it plays an important role in my culinary enthusiasms. Because, each week I went there, it pushed me to order something that I felt would be more flavorful than the dish I had last week.

Enter pad Thai and bean thread noodles. Oh yes! And, the freshness of vegetables like scallion and cucumber. Never knew that vegetables can actually add exotic flavors to a dish.

I made this dish to purposely bring my taste buds back to something for me that really just taste good!

Ingredients

Bean thread noodles (2 bundles)

Shrimp 2 cups

Cucumbers 1 cup

Scallions 1 cup

Cabbage (salad bag for convenience) 1 cup

Carrots 1/2 cup

Cilantro 1 cup

Fish sauce 4 tablespoons

Sesame oil 4 tablespoons

Soy sauce

Salt and pepper

How to make

This dish is actually very easy to make. Frying chicken is more complicated.

Prepare the noodle as the instructions on the packet. Use 2 average bundles.

Cut up your vegetables, medium dice, also for convenience, get the salad pre made, so much easier then cutting up a whole cabbage. Also, for convenience, get precooked shrimp.

If you have a wok, perfect! If you don’t no problem. Regular pan will do fine. Add your 4 table spoons fish sauce, and, 4 tablespoons sesame oil. Let heat up a little, then throw your shrimps, veggies, then noodles. Splash soy sauce as needed, make sure noodles are covered completely with soy sauce.

Use tongs or flat flipping pancake turner. Add little salt and pepper. Make sure all ingredients are incorporated.

This dish is also healthy. Anything with this much veggies is no question. Enjoy!

Duck Confit! My Culinary School Daze

Duck Confit served with white rice, spinach, mushrooms, and my homemade ginger sauce.

Don’t get me wrong, but there were some days in culinary school when I had some Bad days. And, some days were like Heaven’s gate opened up for delicious recipes that went great!

Duck Confit pronounced (Con-fee) is poultry I never cooked, before culinary school. I’ve had duck before, when I use to work near Chinatown! I remember having it with plain white rice, and a delicious ginger sauce that came with it on the side.

However, in culinary school, I learned so much about duck, because it’s considered a French dish. And, most culinary schools are somewhat organized in the way the French prepares its students for professional kitchens.

With that said, I wanted to be brave enough to cook duck on my own. In school there’s a head chef looking over you, so it’s a controlled environment. Duck Confit is just duck rendered/cooked in its own fat! However, the fat from the duck is saved. Because, it is so delicious, and savory that if you don’t use it to cook with other foods, like sautéing vegetables, or baking potatoes. It would be considered a great travesty, and shock against the culinary world.

Slice duck over rice and spinach
Crispy skin Duck Confit

Ingredients

4 Duck Breast

Salt

Pepper

How to make

Clean, then salt pepper the duck on both sides. Place duck on skin side first, pan does not have to be hot. Please do not add any oil to pan.

Cook on both sides for 4 minutes each, at least skin side until golden brown and little crispy. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Continue to cook in oven for 8-10 minutes.

Let rest, then slice, the color should be a nice beautiful pink.

Serve with so white rice and sautéed mushrooms and spinach. Any vegetable will do.

Ginger and scallion sauce

I love the ginger and scallion sauce! It is the most flavorful, and delicious. It’s so perfect for the duck dish.

Ingredients

Ginger

Scallions

1 cup vegetable oil

2 tbl Salt

How to make

Cut vegetables small dice. One cup of ginger and one cup of scallions. Add salt and mix with vegetables.

Boil oil until it’s literally smoking, however let cool for 2 minutes before adding to ginger and scallion.

Place vegetables in heat resistant bowl and add hot oil.

Vala, you have a delicious ginger sauce, that goes great with any poultry or meats!

I hope you enjoy making this dish, I sure did. The flavors of the duck took me back to my culinary school days, and the sauce took me back to Chinatown!

Summer Sweets/Christmas in July! My Momma’s Peach Cobbler!

Had a craving for my Mother’s peach cobbler! Funny tho, my Mom only made peach cobbler on the holiday season. Although My Mom has passed, my vivid memories of her was watching her cook as a kid, than as a teen and in my college years, (helping in the cooking prep by that time).

I suppose I’m just reflecting my precious time that I had on this earth with her. However, my Momma’s food was always the thing I needed to feel blessed! Especially, when life brought me down. I’m always yearning for that feeling of home, of course I’ll probably never recapture the actual feeling. However, I’m damn sure gonna try. Because, that’s my momma’s food, it could put a smile on Scrooge’s face, (hence, the Christmas theme of the article!😂)

This recipe is not exactly like my Mom’s, and not that her ingredients was less than or more than. I’m a culinary enthusiast, so I’m always gonna mix and match flavors.

Ingredients

  • 2 cans (29oz) peaches drain liquid, (about 4-5 cups)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the batter:

  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Butter
  • ground cinnamon to sprinkle on top

Cook time: 40 min at 350 degrees

How to make:

Place peaches (drained from can) in a sauce pot, and add the sugar, brown sugar, salt, vanilla extract, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Cook for 6 to 7 minutes, set aside to cool.

I used ramekins for my desert. Place a slice of butter in each ramekin. Melt butter in your preheated oven, let melt for couple minutes.

While butter is melting, mix your batter ingredients with a whisk. Once smooth , add to your ramekins evenly.

With a saucing spoon, layer your peaches on top of batter in the ramekins. Sprinkle cinnamon on top.

Place ramekins in preheated oven for 40 min., at 350-375 degrees.

Then enjoy! 😋

Don’t forget to add vanilla ice cream on top these bad boys! 😋

A little Tiramisu 🇮🇹

Tiramisu

Although the pandemic has eased up a bit. Still, travel to some other countries are still on heavy lockdown. My plan on resuming my traveling will probably start up again next year. With news of a new variant surfacing, I am still gonna take precautions with traveling. Also, with air travel being unpredictable, and flights being canceled left and right. I don’t like taking chances booking and than being unsure I will make my destination or worse, being in another country and having a flight being canceled.

I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m talking about traveling, and the name of this article is called “A little Tiramisu!” Well, tiramisu is an Italian desert, and I’d like to keep in tune with what my blog is about! “Travel, culture and food.”

What I love about tiramisu is that it’s so easy to make. There is no baking involved. And, it’s an airy, light really delicious dessert! Your friends will think you spent hours making this dish, because it’s so flavorful, and it taste like you spent hours over an oven to make it.

Ingredients

*Lady fingers (2 packs)

1/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 teaspoon salt

6 to 8 ounces mascarpone (should be at room temp)

2 cups of black coffee

3 tablespoons rum

Herseys bittersweet coco powder

*Unfortunately, lady fingers are considered gourmet foods, so finding them in your local supermarket can be frustrating. So you can substitute Stella D’oro Margherite.

How to make

I like to start off with making the coffee first. Because, it needs to cool down before dipping your lady fingers. Instant coffee is best, and it’s quick and easy. After coffee is done, mix in the three tablespoons of rum, and sit aside.

Second, use a kitchen aid or hand blender to thicken your heavy cream. Whip your heavy cream on high for about two to three minutes, adding your sugar, vanilla extract and salt.

Please! Do not make the dumb mistake I made and blend in the mascarpone with the heavy cream while blending in the kitchen aid or hand blender. Fold in the mascarpone with a wooden or rubber top spoon.

Now that the coffee with rum has cooled, pour in a wide bowl, and dip the lady fingers one at a time. Note: the texture of the lady fingers can be really soft, if so, just brush the coffee mixture on the lady fingers after layering them in your pan.

Use a frosting flatware to spread half your cream on top of the lady fingers, than sprinkle/shift the bittersweet coco powder over the cream. Repeat process so you’ll have two layers. Lady fingers, cream, coco powder in that order.

I hope you enjoy this dessert, it was fun to make, so delicious and be careful not to eat the whole thing.