Monday, July 22, 2013

Blanched Kale Salad and Lemony Shrimp

Last night I had one of those... hmm, what to cook nights. And after looking through the fridge and freezer I threw together a tasty and healthy dinner of Blanched Kale Salad and Shrimp with Mushrooms in a Lemony sauce. 

I love Kale... but not raw. I just have a really hard time getting past the deep earthy mineral-y flavor. So  my way of getting around that while still maintaing all the nutrients of raw Kale is to blanche it! Its so easy! Then I just make whatever dressing I'm feeling like and mix it up and ta-da! A beautiful bright green and still crunchy Kale Salad with a much milder flavor. 

Kale Salad:
Serves 4
Prep Time: 10 min

8-10 Large Kale Leaves- de-stalked and chopped into 2 inch pieces
1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1tbsp Lemon Juice
1-2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 fresh corn on the cobb- just the kernels sliced off and quickly sauteed for 2-3 minutes
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes quartered

1. Place chopped kale leaves in a large heat safe bowl, pour near boiling water over kale just enough to cover. 
2. Using tongs swirl kale, making sure all leaves are submerged. Wait 30 Seconds
3. Drain water and refill with cold water from the sink- add 2 cups ice cubes
4. Using tongs stir kale to make sure the ice water reaches everything and then drain. Squeeze excess water from kale leaves. 

5. Loosed kale by gently rubbing leaves through your fingers. Add Balsamic Vinegar, Lemon juice and Olive Oil. Stir kale to incorporate evenly, then add corn, tomatoes, and Salt & Pepper to taste.

Serve immediately or store in a sealed container the fridge for up to 2 days. 

Shrimp with Bacon and Mushrooms in Lemon Sauce:
Serves 4
Prep Time: 20-30 min
Cook Time: 20 Min

1 bag shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 Large Baby Bella Mushroom- sliced 1/4 inch thick
6 slices bacon- cooked and chopped (I use the Oscar Meyer precooked)
3 cloves garlic- minced
1/4 cup white wine
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon- zest and juice

1. Thaw shrimp in cold water for 20-30 minutes ahead of time
2. Heat skillet to medium high, add 2 tbs butter and 1 tbs olive oil. Once heated add mushrooms- cook until nicely carmelized. About 6-8 minutes
3. Put mushrooms in prep bowl, cook or reheat bacon depending on if using raw or pre-cooked. Drain any excess oil.
4. In same pan as mushrooms and bacon, add 2 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil. Add minced Garlic. Add Shrimp. Turn heat to medium. Add 1/4 cup white wine, lemon zest and lemon juice.
5.  Cook shrimp in sauce until cooked through, about 2-3 minutes per side. 

Serve over rice, pasta or a salad!

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Habana Cafe Inspired Recipe

So as you may remember in a recent post, I had delicious meal at my favorite Cuban restaurant, Habana Cafe while in Gulfport Florida back in May. So when I put some rice on to cook and was looking around trying to think of what I wanted to make for dinner, I thought black beans and shrimp and then I thought, Cuban Black Beans and Shrimp!

And voila! About 30 minutes later I was sitting down to my own homemade version of that oh so memorable meal after a quick search for how to make Cuban Black Beans!

Shrimp in Coconut and Butter Garlic Sauce:

1 Bag Raw Shrimp (I used the 20-25 count size so they were about the size of my thumb, fairly large)
1 lemon
4 cloves of Garlic diced
1-2 tbsp Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
2-4 tbs unsalted butter
1/4 to 1/2 cup white wine (Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay works well)
1/2 tsp salt and 1/2-1 tsp black pepper

1. Thaw shrimp in cold water. Yes, COLD not warm, cold water! (They actually thaw much faster in cold)
2. Mince Garlic
3. Once shrimp are thaw, put Coconut Oil and Butter in a pan and heat to medium. Add garlic while pan is still heating up.
4. Let garlic cook 1-2 minutes (just want to soften, not crisp or burn!)
5. Add Shrimp and wine. Zest lemon and squeeze 1/2 lemon into pan. Add salt and pepper
6. Cook shrimp til tender but not overdone... about 2-3 minutes per side at Medium(4-6) to High(6-9) heat.

Serve with black beans over rice, use liquid as a sauce over rice. Option- serve rest of lemon in wedges to be squeezed over plate.

Cuban Style Black Beans:
via Marta of Babalublog
This is not exactly like Marta's but her's laid the base for how I made mine!

2 Tbsp. of Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
1/4 Large red onion diced
1/2 Red bell pepper diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 can of black beans 
1/4 cup of red or white wine
1 tsp. of sugar 
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 packet of Goya seasoning with azafran- *I didn't have this so I just used a pinch of saffron from my stash and 1 tsp Cumin!
salt and pepper to taste

1. Dice onion, pepper and garlic. Heat black iron skillet to medium with Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. Toss diced veggies in.
2. Let veggies cook 3-5 minutes on medium to medium low heat.
3. Partially drain black beans but leave some of the juice in can (if you like your beans more swimming than don't drain at all)
4. Pour wine into pan and stir veggies. Then add black beans.
5. Add seasonings- sugar, Goya Seasoning or Cumin and Saffron, oregano,salt, pepper
6. Let cook on medium for 5-10 minutes or let simmer on low while you cook rest of your meal!

Serve alone or over rice!

I made this recipe in about 30 minutes! It was simple but definitely in the Delicious of the Most category!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thirfty Thursday: Playing Dress Up!

So while I was visiting my Aunt in Florida back in May she took me to this AMAZING consignment boutique shop in St. Augustine called Christie Blue.

And then I found this dress, and I had to try it on. Because sometimes when you find an ivory beaded mother of the bride/ 1980 wedding dress with shoulder pads in your size... you just have to have a little fun!

So I did! And if I were a seamstress of any sort I would have bought this dress because despite its super dated cut, it had great potential but you would need to be an expert seamstress to even know where to start and that I am not!

By the way.. this dress weighed like 15 lbs! All the beading made it super heavy, I can't imagine anyone having a good time at an event while wearing this. 

I actually did find some really cute things that i bought and will be pulling out to wear come fall but that is for another post! :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Habana Cafe

There is a restaurant in Gulfport that has been around since I was a kid. 
Restaurants in Gulfport tend to open and close. So I was really glad to see it was still open as I passed it by the day I drove into Gulfport to visit this May. My brother and I always loved going to Habana Cafe because they have the yummiest fried plantains and being a kid from Virginia.. that just wasn't something we saw very often!
(Above Photo sourced from Google Images)
We went there for lunch after going to the Dali Museum the next day and I had probably one of the most delicious meals I've ever eaten. 
No lie, it was so good. And I think the reason it was, is because of its simplicity!

I literally cannot describe how perfectly delicious this meal was. Shrimp in a light lemon butter sauce with rice, fried plantains, cuban bread (yes I actually ate some gluten) and savory soupy black beans. I savored every bite. The gluten factor of the bread was totally worth it even though had I skipped it, everything else was gluten free. 

Yum! Now I need to set out ot try to recreate this goodness at home!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Stuff People Say To Celiacs

I stumbled upon this video today thanks pinterest and just had to share because it is so true. Funny yes, but also it points out the on-going frustrations and sometime insensitive responses of those around people who deal with gluten intolerance and/or celiac disease. 

I have been gluten free since the beginning of my senior year in college, so from September of 2009. And yes, I have heard every single one of these lines as exemplified in this video.

This past December I decided I wanted to know once and for all if I did or did not have celiac. I began eating one serving of gluten a day for 12 weeks so I could be tested officially for celiac. Yes, that is how long you have to expose your self to gluten before you can be tested. It turned out, after 12 weeks of enjoying eating anything I wanted... although I definitely did have the same unpleasant side effects that I used to have, I got tested and received the result that I am not celiac.  I was honestly shocked because I have celiac symptoms whenever I eat gluten. As my Gastroenterologist reminded me, the only test they have is to check if you are or are not celiac, not to test if you are gluten intolerant or allergic and to what extant. He encouraged me to continue on a gluten free diet if it made my celiac like symptoms go away. For me, that means I continue to live a gluten free life and basically live as if I was celiac. 
And I am really ok with that! I don't feel deprived and I enjoy knowing that I can eat without fear of something upsetting my system.

If you know someone who is celiac or even thinks they are celiac/ gluten intolerant because they've found living a gluten free life means they no longer have to deal with IBS symptoms, severe stomach cramps, migraines and the list goes on, please, don't pester them with questions or jokes about how its so inconvenient being friends with them now because of the limited places they can eat etc. I've been there and still am there and as much as I can laugh it off when a friend jokes about my dietary needs being an inconvenience to them, deep down it hurts. I already know it causes an inconvenience and if I could change it I would, but to do so would mean dealing with the aforementioned side effects of being gluten intolerant and personally, I'd rather not live under the constant concern of where the nearest restroom is or if my headache is going to turn into a full blown debilitating migraine. 

So be considerate, there are TONS of gluten free options available today, many of the chain restaurants have gluten free menu's that weren't around just 4 years ago when I first when GF. Do be aware that they don't always cook in a seperate gluten free kitchen so there is no true guarantee ( I personally avoid the chains and go for local gluten aware restaurants), let your gluten free friend decide based on their risk/comfort level.  And no, salad is not always what we who deal with gluten issues want to order so please don't assume we want it! ;)

On the flip side, if you have a gluten free friend who complains all the time (and I have met some people who like to use it as a woe is me) then be encouraging and remind them of all the options! And if they still keep boo hoo-ing then by all means, give them a hard time and tell em to suck it up because really, its NOT THAT BAD,  at least, not when you live in a 1st world country and are privileged enough to have all the shopping amenities and options that are now available! :)

Speaking of gluten free, I can't wait to try some of the recipes from Naomi's website Better BatterBonus.. her products are sold at my local Whole Foods! Yes!

Operation DIY Iron Bed Restoration: In Progress

So remember that pretty antique iron bed I lucked upon for $25 while surfing craigslist late one sleepless night? Yeah, that one. Well since getting a power wash last month its been sitting in the backyard awaiting further restoration... and gaining a new layer of rust thanks to the crazy amounts of rain we've been having.

I had a 4 day weekend over the holiday and started my juice cleanse so I figured I'd use some of my free time to clean up this pretty bed some more.
My brother suggested Naval jelly so I went to Lowe's and grabbed a bottle along with some wire brushes to scrub the whole thing down.
I wore rubber gloves and used an old paint brush to apply the jelly liberally all over the bed. I applied the jelly in section, working 1/3 at a time along the bed from one side to the other.
As you can see above- the left side is after the application of the Naval Jelly and some serious scrubbing with the wire brush and then a good rinse with the hose on the concentrated setting along with more scrubbing to get the Naval Jelly washed off. 
         Rust and paint gone.........................................Rusted and weathered.

So, once I got the foot board, head board and rails all cleaned up... I spent several hours in web searching for tips and in trips to Lowe's trying to decide how to proceed in sealing and painting it. 

I really want to paint it a light gray. Like a pale heater gray but because I was trying to stick with spray paint, particularly Rustoleum I was limited to a very small color palette... not ideal for an artist like me! So I ended up trying a Rustoleum Rust Seal in Black to seal it and then after even more time standing before the wall of spray cans at Lowe's narrowed my colors to pale blue, pale yellow and green. 
 After some votes from my instagram friends I went with yellow.

And hated it. I just couldn't see it in my room wiht my decor as much as I wanted to. And more so I really didn't like the finish it left, showing every imperfection from the pits and chips left in the wrought iron. I returned the other 4 paint cans, also because SO MUCH paint just blew away in the wind, it felt like such a waste, so I am back at square one and if I can ever find an oil based enamel will be getting the light heather gray color I want and brushing it on instead. 

For now, the bed is now out of the weather and safely waiting further beautification in my studio. I was a little put out, having really wanted to finish the bed over my holiday but things don't always go as planned. So another day.

Anyone have experience refinishing an old iron bed? Or something similar? I would love ideas and suggestions! 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

My Aunt's Home Cooking!

So when I was in St. Pete Florida this past May I was able to go visit my Aunt and Uncle in Tampa. My Gram and I went over for dinner and it had been wow, probably 6 years since the last time I'd been to their house. My Aunt Wei is Chinese and cooks  DELICIOUS food! This time she was just getting started when we arrived so I got to help her in the kitchen a bit!

 I love how crisp vegetable are when they are cooked in a wok. Aunt Wei had these super long Chinese green beans that she stir fried and then in a rice noodle dish she had some kind of squash that looked like a cross between a zuccini and a melon. 
 Teeny tiny shrimp for flavor and some kind of chewy black vegetable rehydrating. Yum!

 I primarly helped by putting the shrimp on the skewers with pineapple and par cooked onions & peppers. 
There was SO MUCH FOOD! Grilled Salmon, Tuna and Swordfish, the shrimp skewers, stir fried green beans, the rice noodles with squash and a roast duck that they had picked up!
 It was a serious FEAST! And more importantly it was a really fun evening spent catching up with family. My cousin Jeannie got married last year and I wasn't able to make it to the wedding so it was great to see her and get to meet her new and very entertaining husband Kiki. 
They also brought dessert and were so sweet to find me a gluten free vegan treat at Whole Foods so I didn't feel left out! 

Hmm, I think I need to get down to Florida to visit this side of the family more often because it was so much fun seeing everyone!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ruby Juice: A Juice Recipe

So I started a juice fast on July 4th. Yes. The day of hot dogs, hamburgers and in general as much cookout food as you can eat. That is the day I chose to start my juice fast journey.
It really wasn't to rub it in on myself that I could only drink juice.. it just happened that it was a 4 day weekend and since sometimes there can be, ahem ::cleaning out:: if you catch my drift that occurs in the 1st few days of a juice fast as your body rids itself of your last few solid meals and toxins. So, I figured it would be better to start it while I could be home for a few days. 

So far I have lost 8 lbs and 1 1/2 inches around my hips and around my waist. But really I am doing this to start a new habit of healthy lifestyle and it starts with food. The weight loss is definitely a bonus, but I am trying very hard not to let it be my motivator. 

Anyway, since I'm not cooking and making up recipes as I usually do, juicing has become a whole new test kitchen for recipes. I have definitely made a few gag worthy concoctions but I am learning and getting better as I go. I also just have to say that juice Kale will just never be appetizing to me and I will always taste it no matter what I juice over it to try to hide it... I still juice it though. 

Ok, enough banter. You wanted to see a recipe! I made this the other morning with just 3 ingredients and it was so pretty to look and and super scrumptious to feast on! All day I kept thinking of it as Ruby Juice because of its pretty Ruby Red/Pink color so that is what it shall be called!

Ruby Juice:
1/2 a medium or 1/3 a large watermelon (pink flesh only, seeds don't matter)
1/2 cantaloupe (rind removed)
2 blood Oranges

1 Juicer! Use the low setting and watch your level, my juice pitcher actually overflowed a bit. 
Stir and enjoy! I personally like my juice nice and cold so when its just made I pour it over ice, otherwise keep you extra in the fridge for 2nd when you get hungry again! :)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Dinner With Gram

So for as much of a foodie as I am, I'm surprised its taken me this long to share about my food adventures while while visiting Florida in May! 

The 1st night I got to my Grandmother's in St. pete we went to The Peninsular Inn for dinner in Gulfport where  was able to get a gluten free meal!

It was a gorgeous night with a nice breeze and a band playing on the adjacent patio. 

 We had a wonderful waiter. Seriously, he was literally the most knowledgable and accommodating person I've ever met in any food service related role when it came to gluten free and immediately put my "eating out" nerves at ease! Not to mention the way he addressed and interacted with my Grandmother was hilarious with is light and totally joking sarcasm and referring to her and her friends (who frequent the place weekly) as "those girls" as if they are always up to no good.

It was quite nice and Gram as I call her told me all about her Ladies Club that goes meets there for dinner every Wednesday for the Early Bird $2 a glass wine special... cuz you can't beat that! ;)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Coconut Tilapia with Stuffed Bell Pepper

ForI LOVE fish! In fact, when I finish with my juice fast I intend to use it as an opportunity to completely change my food lifestyle by eating primarily vegetarian... except I can't give up fseafood. I just love it to much, so I will actually be adopting a pescatarian diet.

In the mean time, here is a meal I made last week before starting my juice fast thanks to some beautiful fresh tilapia I found at Costco. 

When I got it home I knew I wanted to do something simple by tasty with it and since I was feeling kind of lazy I came up with this quick and simple way of cooking it. It turned out to be DELICOUS!

Coconut Tilapia and Stuffed Bell Peppers
Serves: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

I suggest starting on the peppers first so they can be baking in the oven while you cook the fish!

For Fish:
1/2 cup Coconut Flour (find at your local natural foods/ health store or whole foods)
1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper, 2 tsp Paprika 
3-6 tbs Virgin Coconut Oil (it has much more flavor and health benefits then 2nd pressed)
Fresh Tilapia- at least 4 fillets 

For Stuffed Peppers:
2 large bell peppers (I prefer red, orange or yellow over green personally) to stuff
1 pepper to chop up
3 big handfulls of chopped Kale (stems removed)
1 zucchini chopped
1 cup of cooked rice (jasmine, brown, black) or quinoa (left overs work great!)
3 cloves garlic minced
2 tbs lemon
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil or coconut oil

The fish is so easy- just mix the salt, pepper and paprika into the coconut flour and set on a plate. Dredge the fillets straight from package or after a quick rinse if you prefer in the flour then set on a clean plate. 

Heat Coconut oil in a large flat bottom pan. Bring to high heat. When oil heated add dredged fillets and turn heat to medium. Let cook 3-4 minutes then flip and cook another 3-4 minute or until flesh is firm. 

To make Stuffed Peppers:

1: Rinse all veggies and cook rice if not already cooked, set oven to 350 to preheat
2: Cut top off pepper by running knife all the way around so as to keep the seed bunch easily removable with the top. I then chop the out parts of the pepper top up and add it into the mix but you can save it to pace back on as a top when cooking if you like- just remove the seeds/center. 
3: Clean out interior of peppers from any seeds or pith (the white bits) and blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 min. Then place them directly in a cold water/ice bath to stop cooking. Drain and rub interior with a bit of oil using fingers. 
4: Dice other veggies (zucchini, peppers, kale) into small 1/2 inch bites and mince garlic. 
5: Heat another skillet with oil (I like coconut) to medium heat and add zucchini, peppers and garlic. Cook 4 minutes
6: Add kale and cook another 4 minutes. Add lemon juice, salt, pepper and any other seasoning you might like! Add rice. Stir until whole mixture is well incorporated. 
7: Using a spoon, stuff peppers with mixture. You can really pack it in!
8: Place peppers in a glass baking dish and put on middle rack in oven at 350 for 20-30 minutes!

Once peppers are tender slice in half gently and using a spoon plate with fish! Or use more peppers and double the filling and give each person a whole pepper! I served half a stuffed pepper per person and so 2 stuffed peppers served 4 of us!

Bon App├ętit!

New Wheel = New Studio!!

I acquired an electrc wheel two weeks ago! And last weekend I spent my only day off cleaning up the back room where my studio is that had been overrun with junk as well as the garage! More to come on that but for now... here is my new wheel!! And newly set up space! Yay! :)