As many of you know I am on a Daniel Fast for this years lenten season. This fast is a way to deepen your relationship with Jesus through prayer, meditation, reading, and listening for his voice. Instead of eating the foods your body craves, sugar, bread, caffeine, animal based foods, etc, you forgo these pleasures in order to dedicate your body, soul, and spirit to a higher calling.
I thought this would a difficult task, but God has helped me every step of the way. When I suffered headaches from caffeine withdrawal I went to Him, instead of coffee for my relief. When I wanted to snack all night while watching tv I went to Him for strength, and grabbed a banana or an apple instead of donuts and potato chips.
On this the sixth day of the Daniel Fast I can honestly say I have no craving for coffee or sugar. I’m enjoying the flavors of the food itself. It’s like for the first time I’m actually tasting the foods because I’m not covering up their flavors with meat, sugars, artificial sweeteners, and such. The flavor of the strawberry reigns all by itself. It’s the same with blueberries, tomatoes, broccoli, cucumbers, cabbage, carrots, beans, wheat, oats, nuts…
Through the Daniel Fast I’m tasting each grain, vegetable, nut, and fruits God given flavor, and I’m loving it! Since I’ve cut out sugar it’s amazing just how sweet the bananas, oranges, and apples have become!
I’m constituently looking for new ways to experience these flavors. The following recipe is an example of this endeavor.
Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll continue to join me on this journey.
Fasting Banana Oatmeal
½ cup of Old-fashioned Oats
1 cup of Water
Salt to taste
1 pat of Earth Balance butter
Chopped pecans (optional)
Silk coconut milk
Mix oats, water, and salt in a microwavable safe bowl and cook in microwave for 2-2 ½ minutes.
Stir inEarth Balance butter until melted.
Stir in one sliced banana.
Add pecans and cinnamon if using.
Pour in coconut milk to your desired consistency.
Notes: This recipe is transient in nature. Feel free to add or substitute ingredients to suite your taste. If I were not fasting I would add brown sugar and substitute regular milk for the coconut milk.
Standing by my little garden I salivated as I gazed down upon the treasure; and so putting an end to my hesitation, I bent down and picked six baby squash, one with a lovely bloom intact.
That was the beginning of a delicious ending I’ve chosen to call, “Beer-Battered Baby Squash & Blooms.”
And so, to quote Paul Harvey… “Here’s the rest of the story…”
Baby Squash with blooms if possible
1 Bottle/Can Lite Beer
1 cup Self-Rising Flour
1 tsp Garlic Powder or Onion Powder (or both)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Fresh Mozzarella (or your favorite cheese)
Fresh Green Onions finely chopped
Vegetable Oil for frying
Mix flour, garlic/onion power, salt & pepper, and beer until it resembles thick pancake batter.
Remove the pistols from flowers. Blanch for 30 seconds and then put blossoms in a cold water bath for 5-10 seconds. Lay on paper towels to absorb water. Mix cheese and green onions. Carefully stuff squash blossoms with cheese, drape petals over cheese and twist the ends to seal. If the blossoms are frail and difficult to handle put them in the fridge to sit about 15-20 minutes. I totally skipped this step.
Dip stuffed squash blooms and baby squash into the batter to completely coat. Drop into hot oil (375 degrees) and fry for 1-2 minutes.
When they are golden brown, remove from oil and lay on paper towels.
Take a bite and enjoy the scrumptious soft middle surrounded by a light and airy crust (thanks to the beer). It’s truly the best “homemade homework” I produced in quite a while.
I’ve prepared this dessert for picnics and office affairs and have received rave reviews each time. It is so light and refreshing and just perfect for the dog days of summer. Although, I plan to eat it all year long!
The recipe is so versatile. Please feel free substitute with your favorite puddings or berries. The next time I prepare this I’m planning on using instant banana pudding instead of lemon pudding. I may or may not choose to use sliced bananas (I hate them when they turn brown) but I will definitely omit the lemon juice/zest and use vanilla wafers instead of graham crackers.
All Rightie…Here we go: (Complete Recipe at End)
First put cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract into a large bowl
Mix all three…
In another bowl pour in 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
Mix until stiff peaks form
Pour into bowl with cream cheese mixture
Prepare instant lemon pudding
Add to cream cheese mixture
Don’t forget to add the juice and zest of two lemons
Gently beat cream cheese mixture, whipped cream, pudding and lemon juice/zest until smooth and creamy
Begin building layers of graham crackers and cheesecake mix. Start with graham crackers first
Then 1/2 cheesecake mixture
Add another layer of crackers, mixture and ending with graham crackers
Don’t forget the Cool Whip
Spread evenly with spoon and put in refrigerator
Now for the topping! Put berries, sugar, water and lemon juice into saucepan
Cook until thick and bubbly. Let berry topping cool and then pour over cheesecake dessert.
Chill in refrigerator at least 4 hours but better overnight. Serve and Enjoy!
Lemon Cheese Cake Dessert
Two 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese (room temperature)
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (3.4 oz.) instant lemon pudding
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
1 container Cool Whip
In a large bowl mix with blender cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract…set aside
In a medium bowl prepare lemon instant pudding…set aside
In a medium bowl whip heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form
Beat pudding mixture and whip cream mixture in the bowl with cream cheese mixture until smooth and creamy
Add the juice and zest of two lemons and mix well
Put a layer of graham crackers in the bottom of a 9×13 dish
Pour half of cream cheese mixture over graham crackers and smooth with spoon to cover graham crackers
Add another layer of graham crackers
Pour the other half of cream cheese mixture over layer of graham crackers and smooth with spoon to cover graham crackers
Add a final layer of graham crackers and then top with cool whip
Cover and put in refrigerator
12 oz. raspberries or blueberries
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons water
½ lemon, juiced
In medium saucepan combine berries, sugar, water, and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until berries have broken down and mixture has become syrupy. If sauce is not thick enough mix a little corn starch with cold water and then pour into berry mixture. Continually stir until mixture reaches desired thickness. Let mixture cool completely (I put mine in the freezer to cool faster) and then spoon over dessert.
Let dessert set for at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.
Growing up in the country I ate my fair share of “fresh from the garden” vegetables.
My Mom, a single parent, worked hard to put food on the table. During the summer months, after a full night’s work in a cotton mill, she came home every morning to work and care for a large vegetable garden.
I remember those early mornings, as clear as if it were yesterday. The fresh tilled soil was soft and warm to my bare feet. I followed my mom from one row to the next as she tended seedlings, barely peeping above their sodded blanket.
This would replay day after day throughout the hot summer until our garden yielded the harvest that would feed us through the winter.
Life was not easy for my Mom. She had to work hard for everything life gave her. She tackled it all with determination and a strong faith in God. I can remember her tears during the hardest of times but I never saw my mother give up.
I loved seeing my mom happy and she always seemed the happiest when she was cooking in her kitchen or working in her garden. We lived a simple life and ate simple foods. One of my favorites dishes, she prepared was fresh corn cut off the cob and fried in a pan. Sometimes, when we had it, she would fry bacon first and use its drippings to season the corn. Other times when bacon was scarce (which was often) she used fresh butter to season the pot.
Today, in my own kitchen, I continue to cook my mom’s dishes. During those times I feel ever so close to her. I sense her presence, her smile and the unconditional love she always gave freely.
This past Sunday I prepared her dish of simply fried corn. Hope you enjoy this simple but delicious recipe.
Simply Fried Corn
Okay, first things first! Shuck and remove silk.
Cut corn off the cob and be sure to scrape cob with your knife in order to get all of that sweet milk. Now’s the perfect time to pick through the kernels and remove any stray “silks”. Put corn into frying pan.
Add sugar and butter.
Add water, salt and pepper.
Bring corn to a slow boil, cover and turn heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes or until most of the water has cooked out.
The finished product creamy, sweet and savory all in the same dish.
This dish is delicious served with fresh sliced tomatoes and homemade buttermilk biscuits.
Simply Fried Corn
4 Ears of Corn
2 Tablespoons Sugar
½ Stick of Butter
¼ Cup Water
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Shuck and clean ears of corn.
Cut corn off the cob with a sharp knife.
Be sure to scrape cob in order to get all of the corn’s “sweet-milk”.
Pour corn into a small frying pan; add sugar, butter, water, salt and pepper.
Bring corn to a slow boil over medium heat. Be sure to stir to keep from sticking.
It has taken a while, but I have categorized all articles! The listing can be found at the top right hand corner, adjacent to the title line of each page. Simply click the arrow beside the words “select category” and a drop down menu will appear.
Below is a listing of the categories and a brief description of what you can expect to find in each:
Amy’s Freedom: The continuing saga of Amy and a crazed serial killer. (Not for the faint of heart)
Dark Side Thursday: Dark stories for the writing group, “Dark Side Thursday”(For now it is a collection of “Amy’s Freedom,” however once this story is complete there will be other dark adventures) (Not for the faint of heart)
Faith: My faith is very important to me and so here you will find a collection of articles revealing my spiritual insight.
Flash Fiction For Aspiring Writers: These articles are my submissions to the writing group “Flash Fiction For Aspiring Writers”. Each week members are given a photo in which they are to weave a story around within 175 words or less. (Not a lot of words to write a complete story so this is quite challenging) (Not genre specific)
Horror and Suspense: Definitely one of my favorite genres. Most stories within this category are not for the faint of heart.
Literary Lion: A collection of my submissions to the writing group “Literary Lion”. Each week members are given one word and are expected to weave a tale around the word in 400 words or less. (Not genre specific.)
Personal Stories: A collection of articles about myself and my life.
This weeks mystery ingredient was Jicama, which is pronounced /ˈhɪkəmə/
This big bulbous root is also known as Mexican Turnip, Mexican Potato, and Mexican Yam.
If you plan to till a place and add these tubers into your garden, there are a few things to bear in mind.
Jicama is frost tender in that it needs 9 months without frost to be harvested commercially; however, it will produce in areas of only five frost free months; but with a smaller crop. As jicama grows, its vines have the potential to reach heights of 4-5 meters; therefore, it is a good idea to stake the vines in order to provide sufficient support. As it matures, expect to see blooms of blue or white flowers and large green pods that favor Lima beans. A word of caution here, only the root is editable, every thing else is extremely poisonous. The seeds contain the toxin rotenone which is used to poison insects and fish. (Why would anyone want to poison fish…I’m still scratching my head about that…??)
The exterior is yellow and papery and the flesh inside is creamy white. The taste is starchy, a bit sweet and often eaten raw in salads. When cooked it’s added to soups and stir fries. It’s a great substitute for water chestnuts as its textures are quite similar.
I decided to make two dishes with my (1) jicama. First I prepared a light/crisp watermelon and jicama salad which turned out very refreshing. Next I created a savory cream of jicama soup that was reminiscent of potato soup, albeit a little sweeter.
Below are the steps I took in creating this weeks mystery dishes. Hope you enjoy!
Watermelon and Jicama Salad
Above are the ingredients used for my Watermelon and Jicama salad. (less the fresh mint… I forgot to photograph) Of course there is the jicama and watermelon, along with orange juice, orange zest, lime juice, lime zest, honey and fresh mint.
Basically, everything is chopped and tossed. First I cut the watermelon into bite sized pieces. Then the jicama is cut into thin like matchsticks. In a separate small bowl whisk together orange juice, orange zest, lime juice, lime zest, honey, salt and cracked pepper. Pour dressing over watermelon and jicama, add fresh minced mint and toss together. I even contemplated adding fresh ground ginger. I will next time.
Creamy Jicama Soup
Peel the jicama, which is not that easy. You’ll need a sharp knife and a little muscle.
Fry a couple of slices of bacon. Drain bacon on paper towels, and save about a 1/4 cup of drippings in fry pan.
Saute onion, fresh thyme, and minced garlic in bacon drippings.
Chop jicama into small peices and add to pan with onions, thyme and garlic.
Crumble bacon and add to pan. Pour in chicken stock to just cover jicama. (for more flavor I also added a chicken bullion) Cover with lid and simmer until jicama is tender.
While jicama mixture is simmering, melt butter in saucepan, add flour, heavy cream and cook until thickened. Be sure to stir continually to keep from sticking to pan.
Add cream mixture to jicama, stir in basil, salt and pepper to taste. Puree in batches. (of course I used my Nutibullet) Soup should be rich and creamy. If soup is too thick add chicken stock until desired consistency.
Ladle soup into bowl and enjoy!
Creamy Jicama Soup and Watermelon/Jicama Salad! YUM YUM!
Jicama and Watermelon Salad
Recipe courtesy of Bobby Flay
1/2 cup fresh orange juice, plus 1 teaspoon zest
1/4 cup fresh lime juice, plus 1 teaspoon zest
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 jicama, cut into matchstick pieces
4 cups watermelon in 2-inch chunks
1/3 cup roughly torn fresh mint leaves
Whisk together juices, honey, pepper and salt in a large bowl. Add the jicama, watermelon and mint and toss to coat.
Creamy Jicama Soup
1/2 pound bacon, choppedFresh Thyme
1/2 onion, chopped
1-1/2 cloves garlic, minced
Jicama, peeled and cubed
2 cups chicken stock, or enough to cover
1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon basil
salt and pepper to taste
In a Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until done. Remove bacon from pan, and set aside. Drain off all but 1/4 cup of the bacon grease.
Cook onion, thyme and garlic in reserved bacon drippings until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add cubed jicama, and toss to coat. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes. Return bacon to the pan, and add enough chicken stock to just cover the jicama. Cover, and simmer until jicama is tender.
In a separate pan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the heavy cream. Bring the cream mixture to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Stir the cream mixture into the jicama mixture. Puree about 1/2 the soup, (I pureed it all for a creamy texture) and return to the pan. Adjust seasonings to taste.
What’s the phrase…A day late and a dollar short? I’ve found myself a dollar short quite often, but today I find myself a day late. Saturday came and went without the posting of my weekly mystery ingredient. I’ve had such a good time with these food adventures. It’s been fun tasting things I’ve never tried and creating new dishes.
This weekend, however, our son, Josh, came for a visit, and for that reason the mystery blog makes it’s appearance on Sunday…a day late.
Yesterday, Corinne, Josh and I went to the local farmer’s market. It’s one of my favorite Saturday things to do. I love the beauty of all the homegrown fruits and veggies and the wonderful aromas from baked breads, pies and homemade cookies.
As we walked from vendor to vendor I noticed something I’d never seen at our market before…squash blossoms! The farmer who raised them left the baby squash attached to the blossoms. They were absolutely beautiful and so they came home with us, along with zebra tomatoes, minion cookies and a mini pecan pie.
Josh loves cooking as much as his mom, so I had the privilege of preparing the blossoms with his expertise. Together we prepared baked potatoes, snow crab legs, New York strip steak and corn on the cob. Most were prepared on the Weber grill save for the potatoes and blossoms.
So…first things first, we blanched our squash blossoms in boiling water just until they wilted, probably 30 -45 seconds.
Next our blossoms enjoyed an ice bath and a quick drain on a bed of paper towels. Blanching and icing helps blooms to be more pliable. Remove stamen before stuffing blossoms. The stamen can be bitter and with it removed it gives more room for the cheese.
Above, Josh, is stuffing the blossoms with Monterrey Jack and Colby cheese. Most of the recipes I viewed online recommended goat cheese, but I didn’t have that in the fridge.
The Colby and Monterrey cheese tasted and worked great.
Stuff the cheese within the blossoms and fold the petals all around to create a nice little pocket.
Above is a view of our blossoms fully stuffed.
Our beautiful plate of stuffed blossoms go into the fridge for about 20-30 minutes so they’ll be firmly set and easier to handle when battered and fried.
Take out stuffed blossoms from fridge and lightly dust each side with flour. This will help the batter adhere to the blossoms better.
Next I made a batter of Guinness, Masarepa, (pre-cooked ground corn flour by Goya found in the Latin aisle of grocery store.) self rising flour, salt and fresh ground pepper and mixed it to the consistency of pancake batter. We dipped each blossom into our batter and then dropped into a cast iron frying pan of hot vegetable oil.
Fry each side to a golden brown.
Drain squash blossoms on paper towels. We cut the lemons in half preparing them for our snow crabs legs.
Above our finished plate of New York Strip Steak, Snow Crab Legs, Corn, Baked Potato, and Squash Blossoms. I fell in love with the blossoms, so I’ve got my fingers crossed there will be more at the farmer’s market next week. Even Corinne liked them and she’s not fond of squash.
Good food, good beer and great conversations with the people you love most in the world…no better memories than these!
I truly hope you get a chance to try Squash Blossoms. They are delicious.
Welcome to Saturday’s Mystery Dish! Today’s mystery ingredient: Mango
Now you may wonder what’s so mysterious about mango. Nothing really, save for the fact I’ve never cooked with it. So my weekly assignment was to use an unfamiliar ingredient to prepare an unfamiliar dish. The first week I cooked with Corn Shucks, the second week Chayote, (And loved it…I have one in my fridge now) and last week the tamaltillo. It’s been a fun ride–these mystery dishes, this week was no different.
The mango is native to South and Southeast Asia. It is the national fruit of India, Pakistan and the Philippines. The mango tree, is long lived and some species can produce fruit for over 300 years.
Mangoes were first imported to the American colonies during the 17th century. They had to be pickled before their journey because of no refrigeration. As a result, by the 18th century, the phrase “to pickle” became synonymous with “mango.”
Mangoes average around 60 calories each and are rich in folate and vitamin C.
The recipe I used:
Mango Orange Mousse
1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1 tbsp. Honey
1 tsp. Vanilla Flavoring
Peel and chop Mango
Segment orange by removing peel and cutting away pith
Combine mango, orange, zest, honey and puree until smooth
Beat whipping cream and vanilla flavoring until stiff peaks form
Fold in mango/orange puree into whipped cream
Scoop mousse into serving bowls and chill until set. (about 3 hours)(I put mine in the freezer so I could eat it sooner.)
Garnish with orange slice and mint if desired.
My mousse turned out very light and fluffy and tasted good; however, I was a little “light-handed” with the orange zest. Next time, in order to add more flavor, I’ll definitely use my “heavy” hand.
First I peeled my beautiful mango.
Sliced the mango–getting it ready for the NutriBullet.
The mango is in the NutriBullet—preparing the orange.
Segmented my orange by cutting away the membrane and bitter pith.
Honey goes into the NutriBullet with mango, orange, orange zest and then pureed.
Whip heavy cream and vanilla until cream forms stiff peaks.
I got this recipe from the local CO-OP in our neighborhood. I have to say this has become one of my all time favorite desserts. Of course I tweaked it a bit (surprise…surprise) by adding a mixture of butter and crumbled graham crackers.
The graham cracker mixture went into the dish first, then the cheesecake mixture and lastly it is topped off with the fruit mixture. I have used strawberries, blueberries and raspberries and all were delicious; however, my favorite was raspberry.
Also I put my cheesecake cups into the freezer for 30 minutes. OMG….so freaking refreshing on a hot summer day! Every pie hole deserves a big spoonful! Believe me, you wont be disappointed!
1/2 cup heavy cream, cold
1/2 pound cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 ounces blackberries, washed
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons water
1/2 lemon, juiced
In a chilled mixing bowl, beat the heavy cream until medium peaks are formed. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, honey and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine the blackberries (reserve a few for garnish!), sugar, water and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook the berries for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the berries are broken down and the mixture has become syrupy. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
To assemble the cheesecake cups, place a spoonful of blackberry sauce in the bottom of 6 individual ramekins, tumblers or small dishes and spoon a large scoop of the cheesecake mixture on top of the sauce. Finish by pouring the remaining blackberry sauce over the top of each serving and top with fresh berries. Serve immediately or refrigerate before serving.
Chinese squash (aka Spaghetti squash) was developed during the 1890’s in Manchuria China.
In the 1930’s a Japanese seed firm, Sakata Seed Company, diligently sought new plants to promote when they stumbled upon the Chinese squash. Sakata took the squash and worked to develop a better strain. Once that was accomplished they introduced the seeds to the world.
In 1936, Burpee Seed Company purchased the seeds and began marketing them in America, under the name of “Vegetable Spaghetti.”
The American public was slow to warm up to this new squash and so it became mostly obsolete. And then World War II happened and with it came a food shortage. Italian noodles were hard to come by, so as a result the “Vegetable Spaghetti” found its resting place within the “Victory Gardens” across the land. After the war when noodles were readily available the “Vegetable Speghetti” once again faded into obscurity.
Finally, in California, during the 1960’s, the “Vegetable Spaghetti” was reborn under the name of “Spaghetti Squash.” Much of its popularity spread throughout the hippie culture where it was promoted as a natural alternative to processed food. Eventually mainstream America jumped on the “Spaghetti Squash” band wagon and by the 1980’s it was well known throughout the United States.
When choosing your Spaghetti Squash look for one that is dense, uniform in color with no green and void of soft spots. This little jewel is chocked full of vitamins (A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6) and contains trace amounts of zinc, phosphorus, iron, calcium, magnesium and copper. Not only is it a low calorie food (1 cup=42 calories) it is also a great source of potassium.
Above, I cut my Spaghetti Squash in half length-wise and then “gutted” it of it’s seeds and pulp. If you desire longer “noodles” cut the squash crosswise as the strands grow around and not up and down. I rubbed the inside of my squash with olive oil, salted it, and added fresh cracked pepper.
I lined my pan with foil, sprayed it with Pam, and laid my squash cut side down. Some people suggest adding a little water (1/4 inch) to keep it from drying out; however, I didn’t and mine turned out great. I put my squash in a 400 degree oven to cook for 45-50 minutes. I have also cooked my squash in the microwave for 10-15 minutes and it turned out fine.
While my Spaghetti Squash roasted in the oven I fry bacon until it is nice and crisp.
While the bacon drains on paper towels I saute spinach in some of the bacon drippings…just until it wilts.
The squash is done when the flesh is easily pierced with a fork. Remove squash, let cool until cool enough to handle.
With a fork rake the insides to create spaghetti like strands.
Toss “spaghetti” with crispy bacon crumbles, Parmesan cheese, and spinach.
Serve with your favorite spaghetti sauce. I love Prego…because it’s in there!