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Thursday, October 15, 2020

The Spiceology of Life, We're on a Chef's Roll


Spiceology has 13 Salt Free Blends!


Roasted Ratatouille Sandwich w/ Cauliflower Pistou on Herbed Cloud Bread


 I am fortunate enough to have been selected to take part in a most exciting adventure with the help of Chef's Roll and Spiceology.  In support of and in conjuntion with the National Kidney Foundation, chefs and Culiniarians from all over the world are coming together to create recipes, for those with salt sensitivities or other renal conditions that makes too much salt, a most dangerous and unwelcome endeavor, potentially putting their lives at stake, yes, causing death.  

Renal conditions do not have to mean loss of enjoyment and flavors in your meals and with the help of Spiceology, kicking up meals and taking delicious bites of life, just got easier.  Spiceology presents us with 13 magnificent Salt Free blends to layer on the taste, wake up the taste buds and put enjoyment back on the menu for almost 370 million people, worldwide.  The best part of it is you don't have to have an issue with your kidneys to care about the sodium you consume, sometimes senselessly in some other seasonings available on the market.  Spiceology has new and inventive blends, that in turn may be blended together to create just about any flavor profile from any cuisine you can think of.  Purple Haze, Everything Bagel, Chile Margarita, Steak and Bake, Mango Tango, Lemon Pink Peppercorn, Really Ranch, Guac and Roll, Greek Freak, Pizza Pie and El Taco are some of the names of these awesome blends, each one, as spectacular as the next.  No longer do you have to accept the salt with the rest of the principal ingredients of a spice and herb blend, Spiceology makes it easy.  

Bold and bright, Spiceology brings the A game and inspired the recipe for the photo above, Roasted Ratatouille with Cauliflower Pistou on Herbed Cloud Bread.  Head on over to Chef's Roll and Spiceology to check out the amazing Salt Free recipes for your viewing enjoyment and a  detailed listing of each blends' specific ingredients. Better yet, get your hands on some and work your magic!  An added incentive to this exhilarating challenge is that I too have become more aware of the added salts in these herb and spice blends on the market' and I am happy to be a new edition to the Spiceology family. 

 You can have more confidence in the foods and dishes you prepare for clients and family members, knowing there are no 'sneaky', unwanted salts hanging around or hiding in your herb and spice blends, making the meal healthier and better for  you, with just a pinch, shake or a palmful. This #lifeordeathrecipe challenge is just that.  Take charge and get BOLD with Spiceology, Chef's Roll and the National Kidney Foundation.  I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of something much bigger than myself and helpful to those in need... of a little spice in their life!  I have several more recipes featuring Spiceology Blends to be submitted to the challenge, wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Veg-cellent!

A good tip for making sure you get your proper veggies for family meals is to go ahead and prepare them all at one time, for the whole week.  That may sound like a lot of work, but in reality, it shaves tons of time off your meal planning for each and every day, making light work out of 1/3 of the decision process.  The only thing that will be needed is a protein and a starch, then you're good to go.  The easier the vegetables are to access, the more likely your family members are to consume them.  Simply grill a bunch of your favorite veggies as seen above or to your specific liking and let the fun begin.  The prepared items may be added to a large, plastic and rectangular bowl with a lid.  For mealtime, you can have an extensive variety to choose from with ease.  I used my newest 'toy' for these guys, a 17 inch tabletop outdoor griddle, put out by Blackstone. It's fueled by these handy 1 lb. canisters of propane, and the work surface is such that you can get a substantial amount grilled at once.  I love it!  I even made Pad Thai on the griddle for a super fresh and easy dinner one night, then we had dinner right on the patio, serving off the griddle, serving as the warmer and the dish.  Now, back to the veggies, you can vary your seasonings and flavorings by way of different oils and salts, even butters.  I used Ghee for some of the above vegetables.  For others, I used simple extra virgin olive oil.  Of course, you can prepare the vegetables separately or in combinations.  I found that doing both ways was the bee's knees! 

 I also used this magnificent oil called Cocavo, which is a blend of organic, unfiltered coconut and avocado oil, scented with Lemon, along with Turmeric.   This oil is bright, light and full of fresh flavor, complementing whatever you add to it with lots of vigor and flavor pop!  

The vegetables may also serve as add ins to your Ramen, soups, sandwiches and other dishes you make, easy peasy.  Realistically, you may want to freeze them until needed, but the fact that they are super ready to go will serve you and your family in a considerable way better than needing to wait for them to defrost or thaw, which will change the texture and more likely the level of satisfaction with your dishes.  

Friday, October 2, 2020

Trick or Tokyotreat October 2020 Box! Shoto Todoroki and the MHA Crew Too for a 2020 Halloween Bash that's Plus Ultra

Treat Yourself with Tokyotreat!

 
Tokyotreat features unique and fun Japanese snacks!

Tokyotreat October 2020 Box


Halloween Tablescape with Tokyotreat and My Hero Academia, some of our favorites.  These treats are amazing and hand picked by the  Tokyotreat gang!  My family loves getting together and sampling all these wonderful snacks and knick knacks, every one is as good as the next! Keep up the Good Work.  Stay Plus Ultra!

NOTE: The Shoto Todoroki Figurine and The My Hero Academia Mini Backpack are personal belongings of Bronwyn's and are not included in the featured October Box.  

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Hot Cheetos Chicken, Mukbang Style

Hot Cheetos Chicken!

 After seeing these brilliantly colored food items, ensconced in a Hot Cheetos hail of fire, I could not and the kiddoes would not let me rest, until I emulated what we'd seen and quell our curiosities.  My young teens have stumbled upon and subsequently introduced me to  Mukbang or Mukbanging, which from  my understanding and  a visual assessment is when people record themselves eating massive quantities of food, with the main focus on the sounds made while doing so, ergo biting, chewing and swallowing.  The menus of the participants vary, from French fries, burgers, cheese sticks, onion rings and chicken nuggets to king crabs, octopus and whole fried spam dipped in cheese sauce and various other delicious looking dishes, from their native country.  American youth are taking part in the action too. I have seen Soul Food plates with greens, cornbread, chicken, ribs and macaroni and cheese, crab boil platters, loads of McDonald's food, KFC and Taco Bell, plus hot wing trays. Please be advised, I never said these practices were healthy or healthful, but no judgement here, so save your waistline by watching someone else do it.   One of the coolest parts of these videos is the participants that prepare their dishes right before your eyes. It seems to be the standard to wear gloves for the event, black usually.  I am not certain as to the exact reasons other than hygiene, but likely to draw focus to the hands and for dramatic effect and contrast.  
 There are copious amounts of noodles and noodle bowls with all the accouterments and super hot sauces.  The displays also feature random other vegetables lying around like fresh mushrooms, peppers and lettuce leaves, that serve as quick bites and vessels to house some of the prepared proteins and items that are small by comparison.  
Another very popular dish to Mukbang is select items breaded with Hot Cheetos and deep fried to crunchy hot perfection.  This was almost bizarre to me at first, but after seeing it done and all the items the Bangers would 'incrimsonate' (to make red or add red color) with those crushed, hot little staffs of goodness, I had to give it a go.  I'm glad I  did. 
 The breading is a two step method, one with egg wash as the binder of the crushed Cheetos to the protein or items of choice. I wasn't certain of the heat index for this first round, so I decided to mix in some of the original Cheetos with the Hot Cheetos.  The regular ones can be seen in the flecks on the chicken pictured above.  I found the finished dish not so full of fiery heat, so next time, I'll use the Hot Cheetos XXL, yeah, it's a thing!
I used boneless skinless chicken breast cutlets for my recipe and they turned out marvelous.   The crisp and satisfying crunch may be obtained by using an air fryer or a deep fry method.  Either way, if you are a fan of Cheetos and chicken or anything with 'crunchtacity,' (the ability of a food item to audibly crunch) this method is for you.  The breading allows the protein to stay moist during cooking, which is a plus! The color alone is brilliantly seductive in nature, encouraging you to feel the burn of chilies, even before your first bite!  I can't wait to share the next recipe and photography with you all, it's a tossup between  Hot Cheetos Cauliflower and  Katsudon, Hot Cheetos style.  Katsudon is a breaded and fried pork cutlet, served with egg and thinly sliced onions, simmered in a  delicious and flavor forward brown sauce, over steamed rice.  My daughter Bronwyn and huge Anime fan, chose this dish as her 13th birthday meal, while my nephew Braelyn, also an 'Animeniac', decided on Sweet and Sour Chicken as his celebratory meal on his 14th birthday, only two days later. Both were served with my go to Yellow Jasmine Rice recipe and Braelyn's with veggie stir fry on the side.   They were pleased with their menus and I beamed with pride in contributing to their special days!  Stay tuned for the next episode of Hot Cheetos Cuisine!

Bronwyn's dish, Katsudon for her 13th birthday.

Katsudon for my mom.

My Hero Academia Plus Ultra Energy Drinks!


Saturday, September 26, 2020

On the Hunt for the Elusive Paw Paw



This year, our Paw Paw haul was considerably smaller than that of the last.  Normally, there are several of us that partake in the 'hunt', at least two people, to watch each other's back, especially along the highway.  There are some super secret locations from which we harvest these fragrant and most delightful gems.  The Paw Paw is known by many names, but its scientific name is Asimina Triloba and its been around for quite some time. The Paw Paw, also known by many other monikers like Poor Man's Banana, Kentucky Banana and more recently, Hipster Banana to name a few.  I highlight many more of its most amazing benefits in a previous article I posted, Paw Paw Poundcake.  This is the only tropical like fruit that grows indigenous in the Americas, most along the Eastern Side of the United and Southern States.  The Paw Paw has a very volatile shelf life, so it is not available in the Mass Market.  The Farmer's Market is the best place to find them potentially during late August to early October, but for my area of Central Virginia, its definitively late August thru the first couple weeks of September.  
I was so excited to finally find a few this season, I ate one in the car, on the short drive home. I wiped it with my shirt and peeled it with my teeth.  I asked the Paw Paw where its buddies were, of course it did not answer.  I knew there were more to be located, because the intoxicating, majestic and sweet aroma fills the air, you can literally follow your nose.  They flourish in partially shaded and well drained, but moist soil.
Most of the fruits pictured below were a tad too hard yet, the less appealing the skin gets, the better it becomes. The tropical and fragrant notes are more pronounced and the taste is exotic and familiar at the same time.  It possesses the mouthfeel almost like that of an avocado and it has good fats too!! 
 It is important to take advantage as soon as the Paw Paw start to ripen, the animals love them as much as we do and when they are ready, they will fall right from the tree, under its own weight.  They can literally litter the forest floor.  That is in part why they grow in natural groves, but it takes several years for a tree to produce fruit.  I finally have some of the seeds that I've thrown in my compost bed, start to grow on the back side and I can see many tiny trees, on their way to greatness.  I've also thrown them around the perimeter of our property over the years, to hopefully gain a few more followers, wish them luck!  
Paw Paw fruit, tropical and American at the same time.


The fruit of the Paw Paw are protected and almost hidden by its broad leaves.  They are much like the Morel in the spring, in that they are hard to spot, until you get accustomed to seeing them, then the magic happens.  Did I tell you that they smell Ahmazing!  I collected the Paw Paws pictured above from the roadside.  I didn't have the luxury at that moment, to go down the embankment, deeper into the woods, at the time or by myself.  I didn't get to go back, forfeiting my total haul for recipe development.  I am quite salty about that. The day was rainy and  I was in between rain showers when I made it to the area and with prior engagements looming, I could not steal any more moments, but I was glad that I at least harvested the few I did.  In the voice of Dr Claw, "Next time, Gadget!"  Now, I have to again wait until late August of next year.  Never miss a moment to tell a Paw Paw you care, they are gone in a flash!
Paw Paws trees have broad, flat leaves.

The fruits grow on the underside of the leaves, almost hidden.


 
 

Giving Your Cells a Hug!


Every time you consume natural fruits and vegetables, you impart remarkable benefits into your system and well being.  Even frozen ones are great choices, because they are typically harvested and frozen at maximum freshness and peak ripeness, sealing in the love of the precious sunlight and season, ready for whatever you have planned.  I usually get most of my frozen fruits from the Dollar Tree, that's right I said it.  They have a good supply of frozen fruits and veggies, plus coconut water, which are essential to the smoothie mixes we know and love.  I have some fantastic add ins from other places like protein powders, flax and chia seeds, but they aren't necessary to have a good for you and satisfying blend to drink and literally almost immediately, feel better, plus know you're doing your body a service that it appreciates.  I have Spirulina, Matcha, Ashwaghanda, Maca, Beet and other powders that I blend in with smoothies as well as baked items, imparting precious phytochemicals and other antioxidants into your daily regimen with just a couple of scoops.  
I prep our smoothie blends by pouring them into a large vessel and mixing them as evenly as possible and them transferring to quart sized or gallon sized bags for enough to make four with refills. Almost perfect nutrition is just a blend and pour away, a very affordable and phenomenal one at that!
 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

American Buffet Blues and Covidity

My mother and me at a buffet before Covid-19.


Once upon a time, there was the American Buffet. The Americas bloom with hubs, casinos and family friendly spots, where one could have a run of the gamut of copious amounts of food choices.  Some specialize in the Comfort Food Style or Country Buffet settings, while others, though a bit more expensive, could provide more extensive and charming foods like prime rib, lobsters, crab legs, custom made sushi displays, chocolate fountains and American versions of Chinese Food.  
The sign that hung over the gates of Hell in Dante's Inferno,"Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here" is certainly the theme of the waist bands and waist lines of its patrons, at least for the night, because as much as we would like to think we aren't gluttonous in our ways, not limited to food alone, we are in fact liable to over indulge.  
I myself, am guilty of such, though not even close to the 21 year old me, with a gang of friends, fresh from taking a ride in the car, on the desolate back roads near our Alma Mater, with the herbal remedies consuming the vehicle, making it a practical dutch oven of Marley's Muse.  We  then headed to the Golden Corral for dinner, a proverbial orgy of mastication, from soups, salads, entree after entree, desserts, more entrees and topping it off with ice cream, refills of soft drinks, coffee and waters with lemon...We were inundated with food, no one there to tell us "You've had enough"  like we were too intoxicated to drive from the bar or had too much to drink, no safe words, emergency stop buttons or elder to reprimand us for putting too much on our plates, just full on satisfaction/misery for college work money well spent and participation overload, filled to the gills and as the moments ticked by, sick.
 We weren't sickened by food borne illnesses, like E Coli, Listeria or Staph, but rather overindulgence to a fault.  Back then, we possibly took for granted the assumption that everyone washed their hands, stayed home when they were not feeling well and were careful not to sneeze on or near other people or foods, remembered to cough or expel air into the curve of their elbows. 
Reflecting, we had only one instance of such food debauchery at an "all you can eat buffet," of which we never took part in again, at least not like that.  Those were the days...
With this  new 'normal', the American Buffet has been all but decimated, definitely compromised and even more of a risky endeavor than before.  We were already faced with the veritable lottery of illnesses and bacteria, susceptible to the preexisting conditions.  With Covid 19, the gamble is such that the slightest carelessness, even on the part of other consumers, can prove fatal, or at least regrettable.  From listening to the experiences of  people I know personally who have contracted, fought and recovered from Covid 19, I think I'll take the 'mild food poisoning for 1000 Alex', the lesser of two evils. 
With the Covidity of this situation reaching fever pitch, I feel that in order to save the American Buffet, many more safeguards must be implemented. I actually brainstormed some ideas of how to preserve its integrity, like requiring the patrons to wear disposable gloves when visiting the food stations, as not to transmit bacteria from handle to handle, no individual will be touching the actual handle, employees included.  Children under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.  Temperature checks at the door is not out of the question.  Some walk-thru  ultraviolet light systems at the entrance would be nice.  The sneeze guards would need to completely cover/separate the diners from the food items, with only the opening for the utensil, a small circle if you will, just large enough to get portions from the desired dish.  I also think there would have to be a station that immediately washes/disinfects the soiled trays, eating utensils, drinking vessels and discarded napkins, with proper sanitation methods applied.  It seems like a lot, but in fact a lot is at stake. 
 Consumers want to feel safe and a measure of comfort when venturing out to recapture some normalcy.  Alas, this is indeed only a phase and I have full confidence in our scientists and doctors to arrive at a cure we can all stand behind, soon.  Earlier, I mentioned the word (Covid)ity, I think I'll be the first to say, I coined this word to mean "1.) of dire importance, 2.) something that denotes the severeness of a situation or 3.) at the precipice of one's attention".  The suffix ity, is defined as "the state of being something".  This word is derived from the words and virus (Co)rona (Vi)rus (D)isease of the year 2019 or Covid 19 for short, (Covid is being presented as a noun per my definition ) which in reality is all of those definitions, and more. 
(Covid)ity may be used outside of the context of the virus, to communicate a certain importance of any thing or event.  This assigned definition of the scientific abbreviation gives us a takeaway that may be used interchangeably.  One day, this pandemic will be no more, but embossed on our brains, in history and medical books, its Covidity, never forgotten.
 


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Thai Style Green Coconut Curried Cabbage w/ Red Bell Pepper and Amabito no Moshio

Taste the magic and depth a good Thai curry can bring to your dinner table in this simple recipe, low on effort, but big on return.  I bought this massive head of cabbage from a fellow at the local Farmer's Market, weighing in at whopping 8 pounds. I believe strongly in helping to support small businesses where I can, I too belong to this growing population.  It was a beautiful specimen.  I also bought a bushel of fresh corn, which I trim and rinse well with water, then microwave, for a no fuss side dish or snack in a flash.  I was also able to procure a 1960's, vintage tool chest designed for young boys, made by American Toy Company.  It is in amazing condition.  Collecting vintage things is kinda my thing, but we will touch back on that later!  
 The corn comes out bursting with natural sweetness and flavor, as good as any method, anywhere.  I learned this trick from a dear friend of mine, an older gentleman, widowed, that would come into the restaurant I worked in when I was a freshman and sophomore in college.  He told me about how he prepared his corn and I then tried it at home and was surprised at the delicious flavor profile and how the husks left on, serve as the perfect protection and steaming vessel for each individual ear.  The only thing left to do after that is pull down the husks and remove the silk.  Add your desired condiments or serve as is for a refreshing course in corn.  
The humongous head of cabbage gave way to many ideas, but I settled for presenting it two ways with our Sunday dinner, traditional and curried.   I quartered the large cabbage and cut away the core.   In a large heavy bottomed pot drizzled with olive oil and smoked pork fat seared the quarters on all of its flat sides.  The smoked pork fat of course is optional, I rendered it from some jowl we had for Sunday breakfast.  The pork fat is in keeping with the traditional Soul Food version, full of flavor and smoky presence.  I seared the sides of the cabbage quarters, until a nice golden color was reached, about 20 minutes over medium heat.  
I really wanted to develop the flavors, before adding salt or any spice that could render the water before it could be properly browned.  This is where I divided the cabbage into 2 recipes.  From there, I added enough stock/water to cover the cabbage and sparsely separated the chunks with a fork.  You may use vegetable stock for a vegan version or chicken stock, water also.  Dashi stock will be fabulous if you have it. I brought them up to a boil and then set at at gentle rolling boil for about 25 minutes.  After about 25 minutes and reducing the liquid by 1/3, I added 4 oz. coconut milk, 1 tbs. Thai Coconut Green Curry Powder (by Manitou Trading Company and a small pinch of Amabito no Moshio (Seaweed Salt) reduced cooking temperature to medium to medium low. 
 The coconut green curry by Manitou is rich with lemongrass, tamarind, coconut milk, onion, garlic, lime leaves, shallots and other spices, even better simmered in a bit of oil before adding to the cabbage, to bloom the flavors.  Simmer the cabbage until desired texture is reached and add the sliced pepper towards the end as not to cook the slices apart.  Drizzle the finished dish and subsequent portions with COCAVO*oil.  Serve each serving with some of the delicious infused juice.
Cocavo oil is a fantastic blend of unrefined extra virgin coconut and avocado oils, with a hint of turmeric and lemon, just amazing!



Nice browning and caramelization adds depth and flavor.  Season afterwards, not before.




This pot is quite large, 12 qt. capacity and makes the cabbage look small!



The lone Red Bell Pepper growing beside my herb garden with my Begonias.




The Big Green Cabbage.






 

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Pantry Chicken and Broccoli 'Lo Mein'



Feeling like takeout, but want to stay at home and save some money? This recipe is easy to execute and full of bold and delicious flavors from the Orient. These ingredients are probably in your pantry and freezer already. The Lo Mein in this recipe is actually spaghetti, left over from a spaghetti dinner I made on a Friday night, two weeks ago.  The uncooked spaghetti was in a large sealed zip bag, but I wanted to go ahead and rotate my pasta stock, so I built a dish around it. Buying the 2 lb. package really saves!  
Some thawed chicken breast, frozen broccoli, peas and carrot blend, and some baby corn come together and BOOM! you've got a delicious one dish meal with all the right moves! 
The black sesame seeds are an added plus, but not necessary, the plain will do just fine.  I used some liquid aminos in this recipe to supplement some of the soy sauce and shave the sodium, just a bit.  I don't worry too much about it in this dish, because the amounts are spread across at least 10 servings.  
Some water chestnuts are a  great inexpensive way to add mega crunch and texture, just a thought!

Recipe:
1 1/2 lb. boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips, then cut into 1 inch, bite sized pieces
1 lb. spaghetti noodles, cooked according to instructions, in salted water, just short of al dente, about 7 minutes.
1 lb. frozen broccoli, thawed
1 c. frozen peas and carrots, frozen
1/2 can baby corn, drained and cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 c. reduced sodium soy, plus 3/4 c. water or stock to make 1 cup.
1/3 c. liquid aminos 
1/4. c. pure cane sugar
3-5 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 to 2 tsp. Sriracha or to taste
2 tbs. cornstarch, plus 2 tbsp. water to make a slurry
1 tsp. black sesame seeds
1/2 tsp. ground ginger 
SPST
Olive oil for drizzling
Sesame Oil for garnish, optional

Instructions:
In a medium hot skillet drizzled with olive oil, brown chicken in batches.
SPST. (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
While pasta cooks, add the thawed broccoli. After 7 minutes, drain and shock in cold water.
Add pasta and broccoli back to spaghetti pot and drizzle with scant amount of sesame oil and keep warm on the lowest setting.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine soy, water, aminos, sugar, ginger, garlic, Sriracha and corn starch, set aside.
 After the chicken is all browned, add back to skillet , add sauce ingredients from bowl and bring up to a boil
to thicken, then turn off heat.
Add peas and carrots and baby corn, stir.
Pour chicken mixture over pasta and broccoli.
Over medium low heat, fold until evenly coated and veggies/colors are distributed as evenly as possible. 
Check seasonings and adjust as desired. 
Sprinkle with sesame seeds and drizzle lightly with sesame oil.
Sliced Green onion will make an excellent garnish also. 




Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Southern Style Sides: Down Home Green Beans



If you happen to have a ham bone around, from 'Virginia Prosciutto', in all its salted and cured glory would be great, now is a great time for this delicious and flavor rich dish that is these green beans.  Most of us have a sure bet menu items that our families' gravitate towards, travel well and get rave reviews, even from people we may not normally share the table with regularly.  I've been making this version of green beans for years, especially for the special dinners, birthdays and holidays.  
If pork is not really your thing, no worries, smoked turkey wings, legs and necks, make delicious music with the greens too!
Old fashioned green beans aren't just dumped from the can and heated. Freshly snapped from the garden during this time of year is optimal, work with what you have access to. Soul Food style greens and beans should be simmered for additional time, up to 2 hours, sometimes more, infusing the vegetable with depth and charm, fulfilling and full of love and effort.  You can taste the history in each bite.  
A few aromatics are all you need and a little more time, your tasters won't soon forget it.  I am a fan of a quick steam or saute of a garden fresh green bean, simple and drizzled with a little olive oil or sprinkled with some almond slivers .  As popular as green bean casserole is, I've never really fallen into that matrix, the cream of mushroom in the can, saving families since the thirties, when it was created and marketed for making affordable dinners and gussying up a plain meal in minutes, a godsend for the Depression Era. 
This dish is as easy as pie, needing only the time to simmer for a couple of hours and reduce the liquids.  The pieces of ham are just a little added bonus!  

Recipe:
1 gallon green beans, from the can, drained and rinsed
1 ham bone or portion
2 medium onions, quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
Chicken or Vegetable Stock or water, enough to cover green beans in large, heavy bottomed pot
Olive oil
SPST
Start by sauteing onion and garlic over medium high heat, in a large vessel, with a heavy drizzle of Olive oil.
Once onion is aromatic and showing signs of carmelization, add remaining ingredients and bring up to a boil.
Once mixture starts to boil, reduce to medium and let simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After above time, reduce again to medium low and continue to simmer until liquid is reduced and beans are tender and flavorful.
Taste as you go, check the seasoning of the green beans until the desired intensity is reached.
Whenever that time comes, turn to low.
This recipe makes a large quantity. For smaller families or dishes, simply halve the recipe.
You can freeze the extras, for slow cooked veggie goodness in a flash later!
 



Monday, August 17, 2020

Creamy Parmesan and Bacon Tortilla Cups


 This appetizer happened so fast and was received so well, I had to share with my fellow Culinarians.  I had to stop in by Kroger, which is usually a once monthly deal, when I pick up my scripts and saw some sweet deals going on, my wallet approved of.  There was a gourmet dip in the deli section, reduced and reasonable, so I grabbed it up, taking advantage of something that would normally be out of my budget's comfort zone, saving me several dollars, that I would gladly keep for other essentials. 

 I was initially envisioning this gourmet dip, smothering a baked potato, turning a side dish into a main course with a few sauteed mushrooms or garlic shrimp and leafy green salad by its side.  As I made my way through the store, picking up some healthful steps with my Samsung Health app that's installed on my phone, I saw the tortilla cups.  These two items were not meant to converge, until I was back at home and having a few of the cups with a Spinach dip another family member picked up on the same visit.  I have a Ninja Foodi and it helps facilitate many of the spur of the moment ideas that may need my immediate attention, before I either forget, or fail to write down.  Luckily, this recipe became only a matter of putting 3 things I enjoy together and adding some heat.  I filled the cups with the Parmesan forward dip and sprinkled in a few real bacon pieces from the package, usually adorning a salad.  I placed my Foodi on the broil setting and in a matter of  minutes, there was this piping hot, cheesy, melty, crunchy and smoky 2 -3 bite snack, full of flavor and good enough to share with others.  The family loved it and looked forward to the next time they would be making an appearance.  That was good enough for me.  We don't normally agree on everything, at least not all the time, but this time, everything fell into place, like Plinkos on a game of The Price is Right, gotta love it when that happens!  

Recipe:

Tortilla Cups

Parmesan and Peppercorn Gourmet Dip, (Kroger)

Real Bacon Pieces

SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)


Instructions:

Fill cups midway with Parmesan Peppercorn dip.

Sprinkle with real bacon pieces.

Place in Ninja Foodi or under a broiler.

Broil until bubbly and melty.

Plate and serve. 

Makes as many as you don't feel guilty eating.

P.s. The shadow you see directly behind the plate is actually one of our dogs, Grizzley, he wanted in on the action! I was out by my herb garden, trying to catch some good natural lighting and he was curious about what smelled so darn good and if there was enough for him! 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Smoked Pimeñto Ĉheese Mac & Cheese: Soulful and Southern Spoonfuls


Mac and Cheese is an integral part of kitchens, families and meals all over the country.  In many ways, it's hard to go wrong, especially if you're privy to the box variety, which is still possibly the #1 best seller among convenience foods.  Today's recipe is not one in the same.  I used two recipes I created and rolled them into one to create this ooey gooey and inviting version of America's Favorite and a Southern American staple, Smoky Baked Pimento Cheese Macaroni and Cheese.  I came up with this Sunday, after considering the union many times over.  I was actually due to make a batch of my Smoked Pimento Cheese for the family and for my younger brother to try, he is in from New York for a visit.  Sunday dinner was upon me, so I also needed to get a menu going to complement some fried chicken and my Southern Style Green Beans, so Mac and Cheese would round out the roster.  
Southern Style Green Beans!
Our family is fond of Nascar and we like to listen to the races and maybe place a few little friendly wagers to make it all interesting.  I've picked Ty Reddick as the up and comer to set these other drivers on their ears, forcing veterans like Denny Hamlin, "The Closer "Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex jr. and Keselowski to show and prove on the track more and more each week!  Reddick is on his way to great things I think, shoutout to him and his team.  Oh yeah, mac and cheese, this will surely be a food fan favorite, especially if you are a lover of the two dishes separately.  Prep is a cinch and the payout is a victory burnout.  It will leave the baking dish as fast as a Nascar race to the checkered flag!  Culinarians, start your engines or should I say ovens...

RECIPE:
1 lb. cooked macaroni, cooked in salted water for 8 minutes, then shocked in cold water, drained and tossed with a little olive oil.
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 8 oz.  pkg. EACH regular cream cheese and Neufchatel (lower fat cream cheese)
1 8 oz. pkg. three cheese blend, Cheddar
1 8 oz pkg. sharp Cheddar, shredded
6 oz. EXTRA Sharp Cheddar, shredded
4 tbs. butter, unsalted
1/2 c. mayonnaise, optional but optimal
2 tbsp. diced pimento, drained and pressed free of excess moisture
2  tsp. liquid smoke, hickory
1 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. celery seed powder
1/2 tsp. Jalapeno powder, optional
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
Olive oil for drizzling

Directions:
Bring all cheeses and butter to room temperature before beginning.
Preheat oven to 375*F.
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients starting from the cheeses down.
Fold in macaroni in two to three batches, blend well.
Spread in a large baking dish, sprayed with nonstick spray, butter or drizzled with olive oil.
Cover tightly with foil and bake until for about 35 minutes, until heated through and the top has set.
Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until desired caramelization is reached.
Let stand for several minutes before serving.
Makes enough for a Sunday dinner with Monday covered!

*You may use substitutions wherever you see fit.  This is including, but not limited to lower fat mayonnaise, reduced fat cheeses and fat free evaporated milk.  




Saturday, August 1, 2020

Good Enough to Eat



My love of cooking and creating recipes started quite literally decades ago.  When I was nine years old, I made my first official recipe, with no recipe, a Peanut Butter Skillet Cake.  I simply added some self rising flour, granulated sugar, creamy peanut butter, large eggs and some oil to a bowl and mixed it up.  I then baked the mixture in a 350*F oven until it was browned on top and looked done.  I didn't measure a thing, I didn't even have measuring tools, but I made it.  My family of tasters consisted of my Dad, Mom and my big brothers, plus of course my little brothers and sister.  I can only recall what my Dad and older tasters reactions' were from so long ago.  Overall, they all loved it,  we ate the slices warm from the pan, cut like wedges of good ole fashioned cornbread.  The cake was somewhat dense and perhaps a bit on the sweet side, but otherwise, not bad for a nine year old . The family and I also had a bit of a tummy ache afterwards, but who says it was by fault of my cake, for certain.  
My second experiment was with turkey.  I sliced and breaded strips of the turkey breast and cooked it in a frying pan, with scarcely enough oil to create a memorable texture, maybe a little margarine.  I then added Worcestershire sauce to the cooked protein and simmered into a kind of 'gravy' I guess you could say. It wasn't that bad actually, maybe even almost good. I was maybe 11 then.  I followed no protocol or written recipe, I simply worked with my on hand ingredients.  I was still quite 'green' in the kitchen, using only the techniques gleaned from occasionally watching Graham Kerr and The Frugal Gourmet, PBS awesomeness or the ones  I had devised in our massive playhouses in the woods. Certain plants with these tiny red berries on each bunch were designated as "chicken" and another "beef", yet others still for greens and other vegetables that we used in our cuisine de art.  Mud of course, was the most common ingredient, made from scratch, because we had easy access to water sources and lots of banks and wooded areas from which we could procure dirt, both black and the highly coveted red variety.   

Mud became whatever food we could dream of . We made cakes, meatloaves, bread, casseroles, soups,  more cakes, pies, you name it, anything we had eaten at home with our families, was recreated in our playhouses, with all the adornments that tiny pebbles, various types of foliage, pine needles , pinecones and acorns could afford us.  Man, those were the days...the playhouses of old, produced the most masterpieces, works of inedible art, that in fact, sometimes looked so damn good, we had to take a pretend bite, sometimes a real one, though we always spat it out, laughter erupting through our little crew, proud and unabashed.  We worked hard at cooking and cleaning our piecemeal abodes.  Hell, we even swept the forest floors in keeping with our duties as females to provide and tend the pretend 'children' and 'home', while our husbands were off at work.  LOL. , "Yes, we done come a long way like those Slim a*% cigarettes, from Virginia"...Outcast; Elevators (Me and You) ATLiens album.
 Our parents were all out until early evening at work, we were on summer break, we were wards of our older siblings, more unwatched than watched.  This was fine, in our rural little village, with our one country store, near the lake, back in the woods, literally over the river and through the woods, where everyone knew everyone, from your sisters and brothers, mother and father, their mothers and fathers, cousins, aunts and uncles, who were also our neighbors and "How's your Mama nem? was more of a statement greeting, as opposed to an actual question. The latter statement/greeting is still king among interactions amongst the people we run into, that either grew up with or worked for or with my Dad and Mom.  Though now, it's Mom alone, who they ask about, since Dad decided he had run the race he was born to run and became my Ethereal Guardian in 2009, rejoined once again, with his parents and siblings on the other side, even my brothers Doug and Keith.  How time does fly.  
I moved up from my mud pies and tree leaf salads to actual physical food when I was around 13.  I began to gorge on cookbooks and tutorials, magazines and other media about cooking and the culinary arts. Reading was the most affordable way to experience different cultural and ethnic ingredients.  I was memorizing herbs, spices and pairings with foods, long before I actually was able to cook with them.  At 15, my first job was in a supermarket, Winn Dixie, where I learned about the fruits and vegetables that we didn't already grow in our gardens at home.  I learned more about meats and various cuts therein.  When I was 16, while some girls were making scrapbooks about their college room designs, I was making my first cookbook for my college life, from cutouts of various magazines, in the back portion of an album my sister Brenda gave me as a graduation present. The album was filled with my achievements through high school, photos and newspaper clippings, featuring my highlights and awards, a priceless memento from a most thoughtful soul.  I gained more and more knowledge through the cookbooks Brenda had on her stand in her kitchen.  Every time I went to visit, I would pick them up and read them like the latest teen magazine or romance novel, they were my first true love affair. I remember when I thought Quiche was pronounced "Quickie", only spelled much fancier and Hors d' Oeuvres  read "Whores de Ovaries".  I thought they didn't sound very appetizing, no pun intended.  One, two, skip a few and here I am.  I have more stories, but they are for another time... Being a Culinarian was apparently in my veins from the beginning, I just hope I can live up to my destiny's expectations. So far, so good, good enough to eat.
 
I







Sunday, July 26, 2020

Deep Dish Pulled Pork Tostada Pie: Ninja Foodi


Pulled Pork is the star of this recipe and a great idea for what to do with leftovers.  This deep dish version of a tostada is packed with layers of delicious and nutritious goodies like salsa, pulled pork, vegetarian beans, crispy hatch chilies, Peppadews, tortillas and loads of Colby Jack cheese.  All the flavors are sealed inside with a special sour cream topping that's baked right along with the tostada. The recipe is easy to follow and great for the kids to give a helping hand.
 All the food groups make an appearance in this pie and be served by itself or with some yellow rice or veggies for an authentic trip South of the Border on steroids.  I used my Ninja Foodi for this which really made it a cinch.  When using the oven, simply cover tightly with foil and remove the foil during the last 10 minutes for browning of the top. Easy, Elevated and Delish! 
 

Recipe:

1 1/2 lb. pulled pork ( cooked)
1 box taco shells, hard 12 ct.
12 oz. Colby Jack Cheese, shredded
1 12 oz. can Vegetarian beans, drained and rinsed
 1 12 oz. jar Medium salsa
1/2 c. Peppadews, sweet and spicy, drained
1/2 c. crispy fried Hatch Chilies
8 oz. sour cream
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. Smoked Paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
Dash Hot Sauce or to taste
SPST. (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
Start with a drizzle of olive oil in your Foodi and layer in half of hard shells, broken in half at the fold. Overlap is fine.
Place half of pulled pork over the shells.
Half of Salsa.
Sprinkle with 1/3 of cheese.
Add beans and spread over cheese.
Scatter in Peppadews.
Another 1/3 of cheese.
Second half of shells.
Second half of pulled pork.
Sprinkle Hatch Chilies.
.Add remaining Salsa.
Add Remaining Cheese.
In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, beaten egg, hot sauce and spices.
SPST.
Mix well and spread over top.
Place on bake setting @350*F.
Bake for 30 minutes, until golden and bubbly.
May cover with foil during cooking until last 5 minutes , then remove to caramelize the top. 
Let Stand for several minutes before cutting.
Makes about 10 servings.
Delish at room temperature.










Monday, July 20, 2020

TEN Salad


This salad is an easy and delicious one, featuring lentils.  I call it TEN Salad, because there are basically 10 ingredients combined to make a cohesive and interesting side dish or main dish, depending on your mood.  Lentils cook really quickly, even more so when soaked for a few hours.  The sidekicks provide complimentary freshness and crunch, as well as a wealth of nutritional value and a taste that's welcome and suitable alongside just about any protein.  All the right places are activated on the palate and this salad can be served at room temperature.  Serve on a bed of  mixed lettuce or butter lettuce cups for a 'green taco' or lettuce wrap. Unlikely ingredients become best friends, with a versatile vinaigrette and some familiar crispness from some garden goodies, guaranteed to have you satisfied and keep you that way, Let's get to it...

Recipe:
2 cups, lentils, soaked and cooked to al dente in Sazon Tropical or chicken stock, then shocked in cold water
1 medium cucumber, quartered, seeds removed and medium chopped
1/4 c. thinly sliced red onion, soaked in cold water for 5 minutes
 2 tbs. chopped Sweet and Tangy Peppadews in jar
1/4 c. good quality olive oil
2 tbs. apple cider vinegar
juice and zest of one lemon
2 tbs. buckwheat honey
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
SPST, (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients starting with the Peppadews on down to garlic Powder.
Blend well, this is your vinaigrette.
Pour lentils into bowl atop the vinaigrette. 
SPST.
Top with cucumbers and onions.
Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.  Toss to serve immediately or leave as is until time to serve then toss ingredients together! 
Makes about 6 servings or 3 main course servings.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Mixed Berry Sake Jam w/ Cardamom, Preservation Elevation



Canning and Preserving our harvests from year to year and season to season allows us to enjoy the same joys of one time to the next.  Aside from the traditions of our families or through newly found practices, many have come to embrace our foodstory with the ways we make it last. I am relatively a novice with spunk. Canning and the preservation of food has always been a part of my life, since I was a girl.  I participated in those long and arduous days, produce and our livestock had to be prepped for the long winter months.  There was a position for every one of us.  All the toils and efforts were worth every drip of sweat and sometimes tears, because I had made friends with the hogs, even given them names, silly little girl me.  I knew that those were labors of love and provisions to sustain our family. Our family is comprised of  generations of farmers and land holders. The efforts almost like the Fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper and reminiscent of House Stark's mantra in Game of Thrones, Winter is Coming! Our Dad, in all his wisdom and hard work was definitely the Ant.  Plus, we live in a rural and rough in the winter village, a far off land even, because our nearest town is 10 miles away, one way, one road really and the going most certainly got tough, if not impossible, at least by car.  
I love traditional things, but I also like being inventive and having recipes I write include my personal expressions of who I am.  This jam is one such offering.  I infused this strawberry and blackberry jam with Sake and Cardamom.  My sister Bonnie and I picked the blackberries on Sunday Morning together, down in a hollow, near their hunting cabin.  This is also the place where I found my first Morel Mushroom, some years ago.  
After we looked at the garden kept by Bonnie and her husband, checked the crawfish traps in the creek and admired their fish in the manmade pond, we set off to pick the blackberries that the birds and a very vigilant black bear hadn't eaten.  
The day was heating up fast and the viable berries were mostly a memory.  At least the bear did the dangerous job of making a path through the bush, laying the thorny, prickly and hurty tendrils or canes that held vibrant gems to each side, so we were able to get in closer to the treasures towards the back of the bushes.  We ended up with about 1 pint, for which I was grateful and wanted them to have a most excellent outcome. We hope to catch the next flight of berries that for now, are but crimson, hard and unripe.
I ordered the Cardamom pods straight from Sri Lanka at the beginning of this year.  I enjoy Cardamom.  It is a must have for my Roasted Pumpkin Cream Pie recipe, freshly ground with my Mortar and Pestle.
The aroma and flavor is fruit forward with warm, lemony notes, inviting and much brighter than pre- ground.  
The following recipe is purely simple and delicious  There are only a handful of ingredients, easy to acquire, and not requiring too much time.  I didn't add pectin to this recipe either,  the seeds have natural pectin that is released during the cooking and mashing process.  After the hulling and slicing of the strawberries, the rest is smooth sailing.  I hope you enjoy this as much as my family and I did.
Recipe:
5 lb. strawberries, washed, hulled and trimmed of tops, larger ones cut in half or quartered, depending on size.
1c. pure cane sugar
1/2 c. Traditional Sake
6 Cardamom pods, in a small cheesecloth pouch
1 pinch of Himalayan Salt
Juice and peel of one lemon 
Combine fruit, sugar and salt in a non reactive cooking vessel and let sit covered for 1 hour or overnight.
When ready, add remaining ingredients except Sake and bring up to a boil over medium high heat, in a heavy bottomed, non reactive saucepan or pot. 
Once boiling, reduce to medium and cook for about 15 minutes.
Using a potato masher,  press and mash the berries, but leaving some chunkiness for texture.
Cook until jam is reduced and thickened, about 45 minutes.
Add the Sake during the last 20 minutes of simmering to help retain the flavor.
Let sit in fridge overnight to thicken more after cooling at room temperature or add straight to canning jars as per instructions and method.  
If you let it sit overnight, determine whether the desired thickness is reached , if not simmer a bit longer, 5 to 10 minutes more at a time and bring up to temperature and continue canning as per instructions.
Remove Cardamom pouch and large pieces of lemon peel before placing in jars.
Makes 12 half pint containers with enough left over for an 8 oz. jar to consume now!  
Refrigerate ready to eat jar for up to 6 months.











Thursday, July 16, 2020

Buttery Bourbon Peach Cobbler




Peaches are in full swing here in Virginia and man are they delicious!  The plump, brightly hued orbs of sweet and juicy 'fruitmeat' is the perfect accompaniment to both shellfish, fish and pork, even poultry.  A nice, chunk filled cobbler is easy to assemble and can be ready for your next dessert slot in no time. I was in the local supermarket looking for peaches and Elba Butcher Shoppe had just what I needed.  They have peaches by the peck, the bushel or pair, right now and I wanted to have enough for more than just one recipe.  I saw this wonderful recipe for a brown sugar cake with a Peach Bourbon Frosting and it peaked my interest.  I must create something inspired by that article, but first, I needed to complete the request of my oldest daughter, Genesis. Besides, any time is a good time to pull out my vintage Emile Henry pie dish, the beautiful ruffled retired one, "Paprika" edition. I just love it. It was a gift, a most wonderful one I might add. It is a humongous dish, made in the 90's, a full 11 inches across!  That's a mighty dish for pies and cobblers, even meat pies and quiches.

  Genesis has some firm likes and dislikes, but I know for sure she enjoys a fresh peach or two, with pleasure and gratification.  I like to grab enough for the girls to snack and go, mom included.  There's a certain nostalgia involved in eating fruit within its season, during it perfectly, wonderfully ripe time, it's a much different experience for the palate. Just Bliss.  This recipe is simple and full of flavor.  The Bourbon may be added or taken away, I wanted to add some depth of flavor, with some oaky undertones and elevation, Maker's Mark does just that and there's plenty left to either serve alongside,  save for another day or to make a boozy shake to go along with it!  

Recipe:
 5 lbs. or 16 c. fresh peach slices, 1/4 to 1/2 inch cut (this dish is huge, 11 inches across, 2 inches deep, you can use 2 regular deep pie dishes, but you will also need two more crusts)
1 stick of butter, unsalted
Juice of one medium lemon
2- 9 inch pie crusts, either store bought or homemade
1  c. pure cane sugar or brown sugar or to taste
1 tbs. Pumpkin Pie Spice
Pinch Pink Himalayan Salt
3 tbs. cornstarch
2 tbs. Maker's Mark or good quality Bourbon
SPST, (I used some freshly cracked black pepper grinds to compliment the Bourbon and sweetness of the peaches.)
 Preheat oven to 350*F. 
In a small bowl, combine sugar, salt, cornstarch and spices. Stir with fork to mix well. 
In a large bowl, add peaches, lemon juice and Bourbon.  Toss to coat.
Sprinkle evenly with sugar mixture and combine in a folding fashion until evenly coated. 
Lightly grease pie dish with a small piece of the butter and press one of the crusts into the bottom and up the sides.
Place small pats of butter across the first crust.
Add contents of bowl and spread evenly.
Add remaining pats of butter and cover with second crust.
Make slits to vent.
Bake until golden and bubbly, about 50 minutes.
Let stand before serving.
Makes Smiles and is perfect with some Vanilla Bean Ice cream or Butter Pecan! 









Thursday, July 9, 2020

Popup 'Chatters' With Family


Taking a break from the heat and the kitchen to talk with family is always a welcome endeavor, even when you feel like you aren't prepared.  My sister Gayle, who is also our neighbor, came by to chat for a bit.  She felt for a snack and I was on board, because I was due for some sustenance too.  I was able to come up with a few 'snacky snacks' for us to share.  With a little help from some random items I had in the fridge and pantry, I created us a fun little platter of melodious flavors, a little unconventional, but no shame here, no props, no fine china, just a meal between sisters, my friends.  
For our chat platter or "Chatter" I came up with some black and white grapes, deli sliced black forest ham, sandwich turkey, sliced pepperoni, slivers of Colby Jack Cheese, multi-grain crackers, Nutter Butters, rice cakes smeared with yummy Justin's Honey Almond Butter, topped with some fantastic Wilkin and Sons LTD Morello Cherry Preserves.  We even had an amazing jar of Riga Gold Brisling Sardines,delicately smoked and perfectly packed in olive oil, in a glass jar, which I was saving for an occasion, just like this one and a side car of Himalayan Pink salt, fresh cracked pepper, Kalamata olives and Dijon mustard.

We casually snacked off plain, white paper towels and used some plastic cutlery, a knife and two forks, to select from our shared meal. We sat on the shaded portion of our newly remodeled patio, at the picnic table that hosted our niece's 8th birthday party, just days ago, the vinyl tablecloth still intact, sporting sprinkles, swirls and ice cream cones, full of color.  If we would have closed our eyes, we could've  been outside any cafe in London, France, Italy or Spain, the wind in our hair, the breeze sweet with summer, yeah, the vibe was marvelous like that.  Gayle loved the flavor combinations, as did my sister Hollie, myself included.  

We had a pleasant time, even in the heat, enjoying each others company, while the moments lasted and the day was more fabulous than hot, more mellow than muggy and just Awesome, Everything was Awesome! Things don't have to be perfect to be perfect, make memories when you can.  One day, it is all we will have....

Triple Cheese Burger: Muenster, American and Pepper Jack


There's a great burger waiting around virtually every corner and summertime is the perfect time for burger recipes worth the effort and here is one for the books.  The awesome part about this Triple Cheese burger is that it's completely meatless and is rocking two whole portobellos with a Beyond Meat® Burger sandwiched in between three slices of cheese, all bringing different elements of deliciousness to the table.  
I am rather fond of the Beyond Meat Beyond Burger™ for many reasons.  I like the option of meatless and less meat days and this burger fits the bill for a great fill in.  I won't say substitute, because this meat option stands on its own, full of flavor and fantastic texture. They are composed of pea proteins and a welcome smokiness, they even give the appearance of a burger cooked medium well. They are a bit expensive for a crowd, so using all mushrooms would rock too.  I've swapped it in on my pickiest girl, Genesis, and it went over very well. She didn't comment, one way or the other, but she ate it and afterwards said that she enjoyed it.  Although the results were not the same the second time around, I announced it before I served it and the girls were like "Mom, we're not Vegans". I expressed to them that I wasn't trying to turn them into Vegans, as much as I was trying to show them that there are plant based meat alternatives and that we can have plant based meal days as well as an omnivorous diet respectively, Bettertarians, consciously making adjustments towards better choices, decisions and health. 
Executing this recipe is breeze and you can dress it up or down any way you choose.  I used some gourmet greens I had on hand from another recipe, but you can use iceberg, bringing fresh crunch.  The portobellos are to me, best cooked on a grill pan, easily allowing excess moisture to escape.  The Beyond burger will take approximately the same time, so all you'll need to decide is what three cheeses you want to use, or not, of course it's up to you.  
This is certainly an indulgent burger, but not guilt ridden. It's easily 1/2 to 3/4  fewer calories and fat, than a full on triple meat and cheese burger, you're welcome.  Make your next meal POP with some delicious and nutritious alternatives to your meaty meals, you may be surprised at how great they taste. Now if you really want to get the crowd going, throw in some BACON! That usually wins over the last leary souls, afraid to think outside the box, the fast food box, that is.  
Recipe:
Portobello mushrooms, large, trimmed wiped clean
Liquid Aminos, optional
Beyond Meat™ Burgers, they come in packs of 2 and 4
3 types cheese, I chose one mild, melty and stretchy, one traditional and one with spicy kick 
Burger Fixins (lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, mayo, ketchup and mustard), as desired
Hamburger Buns
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
Olive oil for drizzling

Directions:
Marinate the Portobellos(2) in 2 tsp. Liquid Aminos for 15 minutes, then drain and pat dry.
Brush mushrooms and Beyond burger with olive oil and place on hot grill or grill pan.
Start the mushrooms on the flat side.
Once mushrooms start to release their water, It's time to flip, about 5 minutes.
SPST, both burgers and shrooms.
While the proteins cook, prep the rest of the burger.
Lightly grill or toast the buns, drizzled with olive or a smear of plant butter, optional
Add cheeses during the last 2 minutes. 
Assemble burgers and make some memories! 






Beyond Meat Burger, World's First Plant-Based Burger, Vegan, No ...





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Smokinhotchef
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