Saturday, January 25, 2014

Soup-Orange Tomato Kabocha w/Ginger

Soup--Orange Tomato Kabocha w/Ginger

Cold inspires me to put on the soup, but this one was mainly inspired 
by the Orange Tomatoes I spotted in our local International Farmers Market.

I had a split vision--one with just the tomatoes and a few simple ingredients, 
and the other included Kabocha. I went with the Kabocha and it did not disappoint. 


1/2 Small Kabocha cubed (skin on and washed)
3 medium Orange Tomatoes (chopped)
Red Sweet Bell Pepper - 1/4 to 1/2 (chopped)
3 scallions (chopped)
1 medium Onion (peeled and chopped)
1 to 2 inch piece of Ginger (peeled and chopped small)
3 cloves of Garlic (smashed, peeled and chopped)
1 quart of Chicken Broth
Cilantro and Cream for garnish
Vegetable Oil for sautéing


 Sauté onions in a small amount of oil on a medium to low fire. Do not burn! 
You want to achieve a golden color slowly.

This is called caramelizing.
Remove from pan.

Sauté scallions and red pepper.

                                             Add in ginger and garlic but be careful not to burn!

  Add in caramelized onion, Kabocha and chopped tomatoes.

Add chicken broth--enough to cover ingredients.



 My selections: Red Pepper Flakes (use sparingly!), garlic powder, 
black pepper, organic no salt seasoning 
and chopped cilantro as a garnish to each bowl at serving.

 Oh, and don't forget my favorite, a touch of cream stirred in.

So good. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Lunch for One?

Caring for yourself the way you do for others might just make you happier and healthier!
Spicy Chicken and Angel-Hair Pasta Stir Fry with a home made Lemon-Ginger Tea drink.

Whether you live alone or just eating alone for the moment, your meals should be special. I hear so many people talk about cornflakes in bed, chips, a pint of ice cream, etc., whenever it's just them. Yet when feeding others, they go all out.

After getting back on my workout regimen this morning I was ready for lunch. Now I could have grabbed something from the back of the fridge or pantry, but I decided to treat myself better than that. After all, I do it for everyone else so why shouldn't I have the pleasure of my own inspired creation? The added bonus is that with no one else to consider I can make it just the way I like it.

My motivation was one of my favorite things--some leftover angel hair pasta, ready to go.  This got my mind to working so I came up with a hot and spicy stir fry with a side of avocado.


  • 1 Individually Frozen Chicken Breast-Defrosted and sliced length-wise
    • (I love having these on hand for just such a moment)
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Red Onion
  • Fresh Tomato
  • Fresh Ginger
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Favorite Seasonings:
    • Organic No-Salt Seasoning
    • Black Pepper
    • Hot Pepper Flakes
  • Angel Hair Pasta (cooked)
  • Mr. Yoshido's Sauce (sweet and thick) or any soy of your choosing.

Have you noticed that I leave out salt when something else I am using already contains salt (like the soy sauce)? I try to always be conscious of this. I took the salt out, but looked over at the Mr. Yoshido's Sauce and left it alone. Why add salt unnecessarily? This is one of the problems with prepared foods, especially soups or eating out in general. The sodium content of your food will almost always contain an astronomical amount of sodium. Check some of the nutritional values on your labels or restaurant websites  and you will see what I mean. 

"A diet high in sodium increases the risk of increased blood pressure, a major cause for heart disease and stroke, which are the first- and third-leading causes of death in the United States."  From Heavy on the Salt? You May Be Eating Too Much Sodium

Chop all veggies. Slice Chicken into strips.

Add some olive oil and heat pan (not too high--olive oil smokes easily).

 Add chicken, season and stir away until fully cooked (no pink).

 Add all veggies and continue to stir quickly.

I love buying bags of these little colorful peppers. They are easy to add into any dish.

Add the cooked pasta and stir into mix.
Then add the Mr.Yoshido's Sauce or other soy sauce. 
Just enough to give flavor and color. Continue to stir quickly. 
Now it's ready to serve!

But wait! You want a nice drink with it right?


Before I started this meal, I made half a cup of Lemon Ginger Tea 
(1 tea bag filling a mug 1/2 way with boiling water) 
Both Bigelow and Stash make this tea.
I then added a few teaspoons of Organic Raw Sugar--okay let's be honest, I added 4!!!

Now that may sound bad, but at 15 calories per teaspoon 
we are talking about a 60 calorie drink. 
McDonald's 16 ounce Sweet Tea, according to their website, 
will cost you 150 calories
The large 32 ounce will cost you 280 calories!

Making it before I began cooking allowed the tea to steep 
all of that delicious flavor and then cool down nicely

In a glass of crushed ice, I added the juice of a whole lemon and 
then poured in the Lemon Ginger tea and added a straw. Delicious!

What a treat for me. A delicious meal, a tasty drink and some quiet time.

Aren't you worth your own time and effort? I say yes! 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Turkey Wings with Coconut Mango Basmati Rice and Peas

Turkey Wings with Coconut Mango Basmati Rice and Peas. Delicious!!

My sweetie took turkey wings out of the freezer the other day with good intentions, but was too tired to follow through when dinner time rolled around. No worries because my mind went into overdrive cooking up the meal of my dreams.


Turkey Wings:
1 package of turkey wings (fresh--not smoked)
Garlic powder
Salt (if desired)
Black pepper
No-salt organic seasoning mixture or
 Other herbs and spices of your choice

Juice from one orange or orange juice from container
Duck Sauce or Saucy Susan
Soy or Mr. Yoshido’s Sauce

Basmati Rice:
(Feel free to use other types of rice.
Note that Brown requires longer cooking times.)

Rice 1 ½ cups
1 Can of Coconut MILK
Chicken stock or broth
(measurement of liquid to rice is 2 to 1. For 1 ½ cups of rice, I needed 3 cups of liquid. I used a full can of coconut milk and for the remainder, I used chicken stock blending thoroughly with a wire whisk).
1 ripe mango peeled and cut into small pieces.
1 Can of pigeon peas (rinsed and drained)
Season rice to taste (I used cayenne and my organic seasoning mix)

Other Tools:
  • Frying pan
  • Baking pan
  • Aluminum Foil

Some of you might be intimidated by turkey wings, but I guarantee they are a lot easier to work with than a whole turkey. This package only included the wing and tip--not the drum piece of the wing. I separated them, cutting at the joint. Be careful with this. The idea is to cut between the two bones as opposed to cutting the bone itself.

You don't have to cut it, but it does make them easier to handle. My hubby enjoys eating the tips of wings (both chicken and turkey). You can also put them aside and use as a flavoring for a soup or broth.

Wings with tip still attached.

Take out a few seasonings and flour. I used garlic, black pepper, and a no-salt organic seasoning from Costco which includes a variety of herbs and spices. I try not to use salt, especially when I am going to use other items that already contain salt. Season and flour both sides of the meat.

 Cover the bottom of your pan with oil and heat. 
Brown wings on both sides. The object is to brown the skin a bit.
No need to overdo it or you may risk burning the wings 
and ruining the flavor and texture.

Remove from the fire and place in a baking pan.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, prepare a sauce using the juice from one orange, 
duck sauce and a little soy or Mr. Yoshido's Sauce 
(a sweet, thick soy or teriyaki sauce).

Brush onto both sides of the wings. Pour remainder over wings and 
cover pan with aluminum foil.

 Bake at 350 degrees until tender. This could take a while so be patient. 
A fork should go through easily.

While waiting, let's prepare the rice. I used Basmati rice (1 1/2 cups),
1 can of coconut MILK--not Cream of Coconut, which is a sweet mixture for drinks. 
Peel a ripe mango and cut into small pieces.
Rinse and drain a can of pigeon peas. I used brown, but if you like green or some other type of peas or beans, feel free to try.  That is what this blog is about--the freedom to try new things.

The measurement of liquid to rice is 2 to 1. I added chicken stock to the coconut milk to bring the liquid up to 3 cups stirring it to blend well. Season the rice with items of your choice. I used my staple organic no-salt seasoning (Trader Joe's also has this. I believe it's called 21 seasonings), and Cayenne (some like it hot!).
 I also used a rice cooker, one of my favorite tools! You just set it and forget it--no pre-boiling and worrying about sticking.  

If you don't have one, be sure to check the rice often, stirring on a low fire. 
        • Bring liquid to a boil
        • Add all other ingredients
        • Stir and return to a boil
        • Cover and cook on low fire stirring often to prevent burning

Enjoy! I know I did

Friday, April 29, 2011

Spicy and Sweet Shrimp and Veggie Soup

Soup is not just good food, it’s great food, but for some reason people think soup is difficult to make.  In fact, it is one of the easiest things you can make and contrary to popular belief, it does not take long to cook. 

I have been known to cook up a soup for lunch the way some people would break open a can.   Canned soup is something I’ve given up.  It’s just too disappointing for me and you can give it up too.   Trust me and try it.  You can’t fail unless you add something crazy and frankly, I can’t think of anything too crazy for a soup. 

This soup is sweet, spicy, filling, delicious and good for you.  What more can you ask for?

Remember to put things together that make sense to you—flavors you think go well together and that you would enjoy.  Once you get your confidence up, experiment as much as you like. 

Kabocha Squash
Kabocha Squash is a prize in our house. It’s a small squash about the size of a cantaloupe. There is no need to peel it either. It has a sweet flavor with a texture like potatoes, not watery like many other squashes. Like most orange vegetables, Kabocha weighs in with a high percentage of Vitamin A.


Shrimp and Veggie Soup

  • Onion
  • Red Sweet Bell Peppers chopped
  • Green Cabbage (about a quarter or a little more)
  • Kabocha Squash (I used one half)
  • Fresh Green Beans with the tough end cut
  • Carrots (2) ends cut and peeled
  • Okra cut crosswise (discard tough end)
  • Red cabbage (small amount for color)
  • Two packs of Knorr Powdered Chicken Bouillon
  • Seasonings – Garlic powder, Black pepper, Season salt (with caution—bouillon is already salty), red pepper flakes (if desired)
  • Fresh or uncooked frozen shrimp (shelled and deveined) I used jumbo shrimp but cut them in two or three pieces
  • 8 cups of water (the water should just cover the veggies.  Go too high and your soup will be thin and watery).
  •          Prepare vegetables and add to the pot. 
  •          Fill pot with water just above veggies.  You don’t want your soup to be too thin and watery.
  •          Add powdered bouillon and mix well (when I’m making a vegetable soup, I like to use chicken bouillon or a homemade chicken broth for a richer flavor.  Feel free to skip this or use a vegetable-based bouillon or broth.)
  •          Season with garlic powder, black pepper, a little season salt and red pepper flakes (use with caution because they do intensify over time).
  •          Bring to a boil and turn fire down to simmer.
  •          Cover and let cook until all veggies are tender.
  •          Add shrimp and let simmer until shrimp is pink (just a few minutes)
  •          Turn off the fire and let the soup flavors meld together-if you can wait.
  •          Stir once more to mix well.

Please note that soup is even better the second day.


Got questions?  Fire away!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Inspiration from a Clean Fridge

I cleaned the fridge today.  No, I mean I really cleaned the fridge. 

Yes, I tossed all of the expired foods along with the extraneous unidentifiable crap, but then I did the same in the freezer too.  It’s amazing what you can find in the back of your fridge and freezer.  My daughter actually discovered two things she had forgotten about, acting like she was just reunited with some long lost friends.

I went even further with my cleaning project taking out the shelves and racks in the fridge and freezer.  I then moved on to the outside and yes, the top!  You know--that place where you put things you can’t find a place for anywhere else?  Especially if you are height-challenged like me and can’t really see up there anyway.

Afterward, I felt so proud of my work that I gave a tour to anyone in the vicinity.  You can imagine the looks I received after the second and third tour.

Later, I had to make an unexpected trip to the store so while I was there, I also decided to pick up something relatively easy for dinner.  We don’t eat a lot of convenience foods in our house.  We cook—actually, I cook—but that’s okay because as long as I am feeling inspired I don’t mind. 

With the clean fridge I was able to easily identify what I wanted to work with today—Kabocha Squash and frozen veggies.  I mean finally, the freezer wasn’t just a UFM anymore--Unidentified Frozen Mass. 

Kabocha Squash is a prize in our house.  It’s a small squash about the size of a cantaloupe.  There is no need to peel it either.  It has a sweet flavor with a texture like potatoes, not watery like many other squashes.  Like most orange vegetables, Kabocha weighs in with a high percentage of Vitamin A.

I decided on something we haven’t had in many months—stew beef.  We eat a lot of chicken, and seafood, but once in a while we do eat a little beef.  Besides, it just seemed like a perfect combination of flavors for a small stew--a comforting dish on a not-so-warm spring day.  

This probably not the average family’s Saturday easy or quick meal, but it was relatively easy, quick, good and good for you.

Kabocha Squash Saturday Stew


Stew Beef sliced into small pieces
½ Kabocha Squash (use your judgment on how much you want to add)
ByBee Foods Organic Petite Whole Green Beans (or any veggie of your choice)
(*Remember that success in creating inspired foods means pairing items that seem like a good match)
Green Bell Pepper (chopped)
Onion (chopped)
Organic No-Salt Seasoning (I buy this at Costco and I love it.  Trader Joe’s also makes it.)


  • Sauté Onion and Peppers in olive or any vegetable oil until the onion is translucent
  • Remove from pan
  • Sauté meat until pink color is gone
  • Add onion and peppers and mix together
  • Season well
  • Add Squash mixing well
  • *Add water slowly, just short of fully covering--pour on the side taking care not to drench mixture.  You want the seasonings to stay put.
  • Put Green beans on top
  • Bring it to a boil
  • Cover and turn heat down to simmer
  • Once squash gets soft, mix everything together
  • Continue to simmer until beef is tender.

*If you like your stew soupy, you can add more water as it cooks down.

I had planned to add some cornstarch to thicken, but the squash did that job beautifully.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Basic Butternut Squash Soup

Soup is my favorite food and subject. I often wake up with new soup combinations on my mind.   Why?  Soup is the ultimate playground of creativity.

Healing Power of Soup

Another thing that intrigues me is the healing power of soup.  It is legendary.  Mothers everywhere whip up a batch of chicken soup at the first sign of illness.  It seems to restore a feeling of well-being immediately.   Whether it’s a scientific fact or a placebo effect, the end result is still the same. Comfort in the body, mind and soul boosts your immune system and leads to wellness.

Soup’s well deserved healing reputation may be attributed to the fact that it is one of the few ways of cooking that allows you to consume all of the nutrients available from the food. With all cooking methods, nutrients tend to leach out into the water, steam or juices that escape and are then discarded.  With soup, you are consuming that water so nothing is lost.

Nutritional Value of Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash, like sweet potato, has a very high percentage of Vitamin A and Vitamin C.  A rule of thumb when it comes to identifying the nutritional value of foods is the color.  When you see orange veggies, you can pretty much count on Vitamin A to be at the forefront.  It’s a great thing to add to soups when you want to boost your nutrition intake.

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup is a blank canvas when it comes to creating with soup.   The possible variations are endless, but let’s begin with the basic recipe.

I find that caramelized onion is a great compliment to the flavors in this squash.  I also use red bell peppers as opposed to green because the flavor and color combines well with the sweetness of the squash and enhances the visual appeal.


1 large Butternut Squash (take great care in peeling and cutting—the shape of this squash can make it difficult to work with).  Trader Joes carries peeled and cubed squash for a very reasonable price.

1 or 2 large onions

Red Bell Pepper

Butter and/or Olive Oil or any vegetable oil

Chicken Broth (I used 2 packs of powdered chicken bouillon.  You can make your own broth by boiling chicken, onion, celery, carrots, bell peppers and seasonings, cooking until meat is tender and then skimming everything out and storing the broth in the fridge.  I do this around Thanksgiving when I know it will be used in many dishes.  You can also freeze it.)

Season Salt

Garlic Powder

Black Pepper

Costco no salt organic seasoning

Red Pepper Flakes


Chop onions and Red Bell Pepper

Melt butter or oil in the bottom of the pot

Add onions sautéing stirring constantly until they become translucent and golden brown (take care not to burn!)

Add red bell pepper and continue to sauté for a few minutes

Add cubed squash

Add water just enough to cover squash

Season including powdered bouillon (bouillon is salty so hold back on any additional salt until you taste)

Bring to a boil

Cover and simmer until squash is tender

Use a potato masher to mash squash

Stir to combine all ingredients

Taste and add more seasonings if needed

Serving Variations 

*I Individualized each serving as follows:

Serving #1:
1 Tablespoon of Heavy Cream
Grated Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese on top as a garnish
Served with toasted Whole Grain Bread
This is my favorite!

Serving #2:
Thawed frozen cooked shrimp in a cup of water with Old Bay Seasoning
Drained and added to soup
Reheat bowl to heat shrimp or heat shrimp prior to adding
Served with Crackers
My Hubbie’s favorite.

*What would you like to add? 
Here are a few ideas:  Toasted nuts, pasta, cooked veggies, boiled chopped egg, meat, fish, shell fish like King crab.  Remember that creativity is all about creating something that appeals to you.

Simple and fast.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Fake Curry (in a hurry)

Red Chili (a common addition to curries)
Trinidadian and Guyanese Curry   

Food that passes through our doors doesn’t stand a chance of emerging in a plain, boring or tasteless dish. Our kitchen is where all souls meet. Our food is influenced by our ancestry—mine, African, Native American, Irish and Southern--my husband Puerto Rican,  Bajan and Trinidadian. It’s not that we have some sacred recipes handed down. It’s that we cook what we are inspired to cook and our inspiration comes from deep within our gut. Maybe it’s even in our DNA.

We love to cook, and we rarely use a recipe, because frankly, some recipes are disappointing.  Case in point—I have a cookbook authored by a flash-in-the-pan chef who had 15 minutes of fame doled out by association.  She was well-schooled in the culinary arts and her recipes were somewhat complex.  I decided to follow one of her recipes from start to finish creating a Sunday dinner feast for my family that was not only elegant, but flavorful—so I thought.  I was not impressed by the end result.  It was flavorless in my opinion and I could have skipped much of the process and arrived with a much tastier result on my own.  This is one of the reasons that recipes for me are just a jumping off point to ideas on the road to creating a satisfying sensory experience.

Now, I am not from the Caribbean, India or any country where curry dishes are a staple, but I make a delicious curry dish that my kids call Fake Curried Chicken.  They say that because I made up the recipe and don’t have a Caribbean bone in my body but the fact is, I know what I like.  I also know that everyone who tries it--including them--loves it.  So, with no disrespect to true curry chefs out there because I really love authentic Caribbean, Indian and other ethnic foods, here is my personal take on curry.

Recipe--Fake Chicken Curry (in a hurry)

This is one of those dishes where I can walk in, dump everything in a pot, put the rice in a rice cooker and move on to do other things including relax.  It won’t be long until the house is filled with a beautifully intoxicating fragrance that no one can resist.


Chicken Wings (I sometimes cut at the joint)

Curry (explore this one because there are so many different curries available—Curry is really a combination of turmeric, coriander, and cumin as a base with many other spices like chilies, cilantro, and fennel.   Whether hot, spicy or mild; green, red or yellow; the variation of curries are as endless as their countries of origin.)

1 large Onion

1 Green Bell Pepper (my personal preference for curry)

Celery (nice but optional)

Season Salt (use care with salt—curry seasoning may also contain salt)

Corn Starch

Black Pepper

Garlic Powder

Cooked Rice (I use brown)


Add chicken to appropriate pot with room to spare for veggies and water to cover the chicken plus at least 1 to 2 inches above (this will allow chicken to cook well and cover the added veggies). 

Chop the onion, green pepper and celery and add to the pot

Season well with garlic powder, pepper, salt and curry—be generous with the curry and stingy with salt—you can always add more at the end or on the plate if needed.

Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer

Cover and let cook until the chicken is well done, almost falling off the bone

Mix a small amount of corn starch with an equal amount of cold water in a bowl or cup stirring until you have a smooth lump-free mixture.  Turn the fire up and add cornstarch and stir.  As you come back to the boiling point, the cornstarch will thicken the liquid to a gravy consistency—continue this process gradually until your gravy meets your preferred thickness.  You don’t want to end up with a cement block but if you do end up with your gravy being too thick, just add a little more water.  

Taste and add more seasonings if needed.  After trial and error a few times, you will know instinctively how much seasoning is needed for you.

Serve over cooked rice with vegetables of your choice on the side.

Variations—This is just my basic dish.  I have done this with potatoes right in the mix eliminating the need for rice and I’ve also made mixed veggies in lieu of rice or potatoes just putting the curry chicken right on top. 

It’s simple, delicious and easy, always a favorite for my family or when unexpected company arrives.


Feel free to leave questions or comments below.