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Capellini Pomodoro with Shrimp

This is both my lunch and dinner for today. A yummy no-brainer dish you can whip up in about 10 minutes. Very simple! Take a look at the photo. Now, aren’t you hungry yet? I know, I am!

So, no excuses now, ya hear?

Ingredients:
Capellini (or Angel Hair)
Uncooked Shrimp
Tomatoes, diced
Fresh Basil, chopped
Garlic Cloves, minced
Olive Oil
Parmesan, grated or shredded
Salt & Pepper

Directions:
Cook pasta to al dente, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium-low heated skillet, sweat garlic in oil for a few minutes. Turn heat up to medium and add tomatoes, shrimp, salt & pepper. Cook for a few more minutes, until shrimp is fully cooked. Be careful not to overcook shrimp. Turn off heat and fold in pasta and parmesan. Serve immediately.

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High on alt milk

I’ve nothing against milk. I miss it. I can use a little of it for cooking purposes but for some reason, I’ve gradually become lactose intolerant and can’t gulp a whole glass without it wreaking havoc in my system. Yet, the lactose-free variety just don’t seem to be cutting it for me, anymore. For awhile, I was drinking soy milk but got tired of it, eventually. One day, I was going to pick up a carton of rice milk (which is good but a little bland, in my opinion) when I saw this one, right beside it.

Hemp milk! Hmmm… I thought it was a joke but then I got curious and wanted to at least give it a try. So I took one home and immediately poured a glassful and drank it slowly, like I was wine tasting. To my surprise, it tasted superb! Way better than soy or rice milk, in fact. Very creamy and even had a hint of (cough, cough!) grass!

Source: noshtopia.com

Nutrition-wise, it simply is a winner. A whopping 46% on the calcium scale? But forget about all that. I mean, this stuff is simply good! I can guzzle it up before and after sleep, no problem. And in fact, I have been for the past few months now. It’s been my preferred milk alternative. However, I have yet to try the hemp ice cream! I hope to find those on the shelves as I’m sure those are a sure treat, as well.

I also want to try almond milk. I get a feeling it’ll be another winner, too. Alas! Too many choices to make. Though for now, I’m really enjoying hemp milk and will probably stick to it for awhile.

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Grilled Banana Dessert

It may be just as safe to eat non-organic bananas since pesticide residue only stays on the peel, which you don’t eat anyway. But I have to admit, they don’t taste as good as the organic ones. And I’m not sure why.

I’ve only had organic bananas for about a year now. And I noticed that it held up a lot longer, also. Like, for a few days more.

Here’s a simple desert I made that is not quite the classic Bananas Foster but is definitely inspired by it. Get your sugar fix without the unnecessary added sugar. It’s healthy, simple and umm… looks pretty, too! By the way, every ingredient used here is organic, not just the bananas. But you don’t have to go that route if you don’t want to.

Ingredients: Bananas, Olive Oil, Pure Maple Syrup, Sugar-Free Strawberry Jam, Chocolate-covered Raisins, Mint Leaves

Directions: Slice bananas in half, lengthwise, brush with olive oil and grill. In a pan, heat a small amount of olive oil, then mix in some maple syrup until it’s bubbly. Add grilled banana slices, turning over so both sides are coated with the syrup mixture. Transfer to a plate. Add strawberry (or any fruit) jam and raisins on top and garnish with mint leaves.

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Barbecue Ribs

Sometimes, you just want to reward yourself for being good. With your healthy dieting, that is. Nothing wrong with that. Everything in moderation, right? So go ahead and enjoy a treat every once in a while. For me, I’ll have this succulent, very slow-cooked barbecue pork ribs, please.

About once every three to four months, I would see to it that I grab a slab of ribs from the store and look forward to a weekend of pure barbecue bliss. Now, I’m really not a big pork eater, mind you. But after having gone back and forth with both pork and beef, I find that pork is better when it comes to barbecuing ribs. To me, anyway. And to cook it, I’ve used the grill, the crock pot and other means but yet, I found slow-cooking it in the oven brings out the tenderest meat. If I had a smoker, I’d probably go for that instead but for now, the oven does a great job.

I don’t use wet ingredients to marinate the slab. I simply rub it with a store bought rub mixture a day ahead, wrap it in foil and pop it in the fridge. The next morning, I preheat the oven to 250F, place the foil covered slab on a baking pan and stick it in the oven for about eight hours. I pour water in the pan to keep the meat moist while cooking. In about four hours, I’ll open the oven door, turn the slab over for even cooking and then pour more water in the pan. After another four hours, you can bet I am just about ready to go nuts!

The barbecue sauce is only added when serving. Unless the entire slab will be consumed in one sitting, it’s just not wise to have wet sauce on the leftover ribs to store in the fridge. Trust me, when you reheat that thing the next day, the sugar in the sauce will burn and turn the meat into leather. Now, if it will all be consumed that same night, by all means, take the ribs out of the oven about 30 minutes before it’s done and brush sauce all over it. That would be yummy, indeed!

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Kitchenware makeover

A few months ago, I was cooking some kind of gravy on my old non-stick pan and noticed for the first time that the edge was flaking off and the flakes were getting mixed in with the food. Not only was the sight horrific but so was the thought that this had been going on for a very long time and that I only began to notice just now. Right away, I threw out the gravy and quickly got on the web to research the best kitchenware I could afford. That’s right, it’s time for a kitchenware makeover.

For days, I read blogs, forums, product reviews, you name it. I wanted to invest on something I don’t have to throw away in just a few years. I don’t mind shelling out a few bucks more for something that does not need a whole lot of babying, either. But a lot of what I read out there tells me that All-Clad and Demeyere are the way to go. I’ve seen these and they are built like a tank, for sure. Very tempting. But, excuse me? A $500 frying pan? Do I really need a Rolls Royce? If I’m a pro working in a fast-paced kitchen, making my living off of cooking, heck yeah, I’d go all out. But I actually have the luxury of  taking it easy and avoiding unnecessary banging, clanging and dropping of my pots and pans. I hand wash all of them and never put them in the dishwasher. However, sturdiness and long-term reliability are still an important factor, regardless.

So, I chucked all of my non-sticks and headed to Bed Bath & Beyond. But I really couldn’t justify paying too much when I know there’s something else out there that’s a little less but will the do job for me, just the same. The lady was actually nice enough to suggest that I go next door to Kohl’s as they might have something that’s just right for me. So I went to Kohl’s and was surprised to see a complete line of Food Network kitchenware. Whoa! A TV network with its own line of kitchen gadgetry? I wasn’t so sure at first. But with close inspection, I could tell there’s quality in there that’s never going to be seen in Walmart.

Well, after an hour of futzing around, I was down to a couple of choices. I knew I was going to stay far far away from regular non-stick and that copper is way out of my budget. Cast iron is cool but talk about a big baby! As heavy and sturdy as it is, you still gotta do all this seasoning and re-seasoning. And you can only wash it with water, and you have to dry it by hand and wah wah wah!

Anyway, now it was down to either stainless steel or hard-anodized. I picked the hard-anodized pans for convenience’s sake. I got two of those. I like stainless steel, I actually have an older 12″ Emerilware stainless steel pan with copper lining that rocks. But it’s just a pain to clean, sometimes. I also got a stainless steel pot and an enamel coated cast iron dutch oven that I just love to death!

It’s been about four months since, and I am still in love with these pots and pans. They’re still looking brand new even when I have been cooking almost everyday. And now that I’m a little more knowledgeable about these products, I am looking forward to caring for them and seeing them through years and years of joyous kitchen adventures.

Or maybe, I should just start saving for a Demeyere set now. Never say never…

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Biscuits & Gravy

Unfortunately, most of what I consider comfort foods aren’t very comforting to my conscience, especially now that I’m trying to be health conscious. Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out ways to make an unhealthy favorite healthier but at the same time, not have to sacrifice the comfort factor. I must admit, I haven’t been successful in many ways. However, I accidentally lucked out on one occasion. Well, this morning, in fact.

I didn’t think of making biscuits and gravy anytime soon as I have been staying away from fatty food, these days. I was at the store yesterday and was about to grab a carton of soy milk when I noticed some half and half. These were different and it got my attention. It says “Fat-Free Half & Half.” Now, pardon my ignorance but what in the world is a fat-free half & half? Sounded like an oxymoron to me. But I couldn’t help but think of the possibilities. Hmmm…

Needless to say, biscuits and gravy is what came to my mind, at that instant. This is my excuse, I thought. My way out. But wait, I don’t know if I can trust it, yet. How would it taste? And will the consistency be the same? Only one way to find out, I guess. So, I went ahead and grabbed a pint, some frozen biscuits (no, I’m not gonna bother making this on my own) and extra lean ground turkey. Hey, guess what I had for breakfast this morning?

Well, I’ll be darned! I didn’t really notice any difference in taste. It was still as decadent as ever. In fact, too decadent that I thought… Well, why did I even bother when I could’ve just used vegetable stock to make my gravy? Haaa!!

But that’s for another blog post… and a different recipe.

Ingredients: Buttermilk Biscuits, Extra Lean Ground Turkey (or, go all out with Pork Sausage), Fat-Free Half & Half, All-Purpose Flour, Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper

Directions: Bake the frozen biscuits according to package directions. Meanwhile, saute ground turkey, season with salt & pepper and set aside. Now, make a roux using oil and flour then pour in some half & half. Stir until bubbly and thickened. Mix the ground turkey back in. On a plate, serve biscuits smothered with gravy!

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I’m so sorry, poor little hot cocoa

Well, I am just disappointed as heck, right now! In my quest to limit my fat intake as much as I possibly could, I’m afraid I have gone too far as to mercilessly involve one little innocent product whose only purpose is to give comfort and put a smile on one’s face. The hot cocoa!

bleh!

What in the world am I thinking?

Forgive me but I didn’t know and I just had to find out whether or not I could get away with a fat-free version of this wintertime delight. I was in the isle comparing stuff and I noticed that the fat-free variety weighs less than half of that of the regular ones. I was already in doubt, but I took the chance… all in the name of fat-free!

It is cold and snowy outside and all you want is to bundle up with a nice 12oz mug of pure liquid chocolate goodness but at the same time you don’t want the baggage that comes with it. Not gonna happen! I mean, I was in denial the first three to four times I’ve made it but I’m at the point where I can’t take it anymore. It’s just not worth the pain! Yuck!!! Comfort food is comforting because it’s delicious, not necessarily healthy. I say, if you can’t handle the fat, drink tea! If every once in a while you just have to have hot chocolate (especially on a cold winter night), then suck it up and get the real thing! I’m sure moderation won’t kill you.

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