G’s CITRUS AVOCADO SALAD

I recently decided to change my diet and embrace more vegetarian foods. As a result of my military service, I suffer from several ailments that contribute to an increase in my weight and blood pressure. So at the urging of some wonderful friends, I am switching things up to improve my health…and life…

This salad is one of the first vegetarian dishes I prepared. It is Bulgur Grains, Red Quinoa, Avocado, Clementine, Red Bell Pepper, Hatch Chiles … served w/ a Lime Juice & Cilantro Vinaigrette — DELISH!

Bulgur is a form of whole wheat that has been cleaned, steamed or parboiled, dried, and then ground into grains of several distinct sizes. It may be made from any variety of wheat, but durum is the most common.

Red Quinoa is a whole grain that is packed with protein. It offers all of the essential amino acids, making it ideal for people wanting to follow a healthful lifestyle. It is easy to cook and is gluten-free, making it a quick meal — and one that is safe for people with allergies to gluten products.

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SALAD INGREDIENTS

clip_image001 1 cup bulgur grains & red quinoa (*using only quinoa is perfectly fine)

clip_image001[1] 1 large avocado, peeled/seeded/chopped

clip_image001[2] 3 clementines or tangerines, peeled/sectioned (*you can also use 2 oranges, cut into small pieces)

clip_image001[3] 1 Hatch chile, seeded and chopped or cut into thin strips (*you can substitute jalapenos or Anaheim peppers)

clip_image001[4] 1/2 small red bell pepper, chopped or cut into strips (*any color bell pepper will do)

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DRESSING

clip_image002 3 tbsp olive oil (EVOO)

clip_image002[1] 1/2 tsp cumin

clip_image002[2] 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (*regular paprika is fine)

clip_image002[3] juice of 1 lime (*I used 1-1/2)

DIRECTIONS

1. Prepare grains/quinoa according to package directions. Let cool.

2. Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl

3. Combine dressing ingredients and whisk well

4. Add the dressing to the salad ingredients and gently toss

5. Immediately serve or refrigerate for later

Makes about 4-6 servings…depending on how much you like to eat…SMILE!

As always, remember that this recipe is just a guide. You know what you like to taste, so adjust the ingredients to please your palate. I love the citrusy flavor of lime juice, so I added a little more. I also added more cumin. You can add fresh basil and cilantro, red pepper flakes, or whatever else your taste buds desire.

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G’s Avocado Awesomeness (Part Deux)!

A few weeks ago I posted a photo of a quick and easy Guacamole (Avocado Awesomeness) requested by my neighbor. This time I want to show you guys my step-by-step process…doesn’t get any easier than this!

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This is one of my non-recipe creations. And since there are so many varied taste preferences for guacamole, I will share the rough amounts of the ingredients I used and encourage you to come up with combination that satisfies your palate. You can’t mess it up…trust me! (smile)

Ingredients

clip_image001  1 avocado

clip_image001[1]  1/4 c chopped tomatoes

clip_image001[2]  2 tbsp cooked shrimp, chopped

clip_image001[3]  1/2 hot N.M. Hatch chile pepper (or jalapeno)

clip_image001[4]  juice from 1/2 key lime

clip_image001[5]  sea salt & pepper to taste

First, cut the avocado in half lengthwise (see photo below) and scoop out the meat using a spoon. Don’t be intimidated, it’s really easy to do. Set aside the skins to use for serving.

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Next, SMASH the avocado to your preferred consistency. You can use a fork, a potato masher, a mortar and pestle, or just dive in and squish it with your hands…just be sure and wash up thoroughly first…

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Toss in the remaining ingredients, squeeze in the key lime juice, mix well, and fill each of the skins with your Awesome Avocado concoction!

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The beauty of this quick and easy dish is that you can add whatever ingredients you like…have fun…experiment!

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Roasted Brussels & Stovetop Ribeye

This is one of the tastiest and easiest dishes to prepare…trust me! Winking smile

IMAG0043The exact origins of Brussels sprouts are unknown, but history places the vegetable in Brussels, Belgium, sometime in the sixteenth century. Thomas Jefferson is credited with introducing Brussels sprouts to the United States. He brought the plant to Virginia from Paris in 1821.

Considering their status as a nutritional powerhouse, it’s unfortunate that Brussels spouts have something of a bad reputation. Cooked properly, they have a surprisingly delicate flavor, almost nutty and lightly sweet. The texture of a correctly prepared Brussels sprout should be fork tender. Improperly cooked, which is to say overcooked, Brussels sprouts release foul-smelling gases and have an unpleasant mushy texture.

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Now I know that there are many of you who probably don’t care for the taste of Brussels sprouts…BUT I bet that you have never had them cooked this way. The key is using fresh Brussels, not the frozen variety. And the roasting reveals a wonderful sweetness that is complemented perfectly with only sea salt and fresh pepper.

Ingredients:

2 lb Brussels Sprouts
4 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
1-2 lemons
more salt and pepper as needed

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut off the bottom ends of the Brussels Sprouts and discard. Cut the remaining part in half and place into a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and give it a good mix. Spread this mixture onto a baking sheet.

Place the baking sheet into the oven and roast for 35-40 minutes, giving the Brussels Sprouts a good toss every 15 minutes to make sure they are evenly roasting and browning. 10 minutes before they are done, squeeze an entire lemon on top of the vegetables and then cut the lemon up and throw it onto the baking sheet and place back into the oven to finish roasted.

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Alternate Method: I love the taste of butter on my Brussels, so instead of olive oil, I placed pats of butter on top of the sprouts before placing them in the oven (about 1 stick of fresh cream butter). Once the butter melts, toss the sprouts to evenly coat them and continue cooking. I also add chopped almonds…REALLY good! You can add pecans, bacon, or any other flavors that you might prefer.

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Once the edges are crisp and brown, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed and squeeze fresh lemon juice on the sprouts…AMAZING flavor! Serve immediately.

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G’s SWEETBREADS

I have to admit…I’ve tasted and eaten foods all over the world, but until recently I had never heard of Sweetbreads. So when I discovered what they were, of course I had to cook them for myself.

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So I’m sure some of you are asking, “What the hell are Sweetbreads???!!!”  Well for those who feel they haven’t been getting enough thymus gland or pancreas in their diets, have we got a culinary delicacy for you! Sweetbreads are the thymus glands and/or pancreas of calves, lambs and piglets under one year old. These glands are classified as offal in culinary circles, along with other parts such as gizzards and intestines. Unlike other members of the offal family, however, sweetbreads are considered a delicacy among those familiar with haute cuisine. They can be prepared in a number of ways, from sautéing to deep frying, although the steps between the purchase and the table can be tricky and time-consuming.

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Both the thymus and pancreas forms of sweetbreads must be properly prepared before they can be cooked. When raw, they often have a layer of fat and a sinewy outer membrane which must be peeled away first. Many professional chefs recommend soaking them in an acidic bath made from water and an liquid such as vinegar or wine. The sweetbreads should be soaked for several hours, and the water should be changed out several times. This process is said to make the membrane easier to remove and also drain off any remaining enzymes and blood. Ideally, sweetbreads should be white or slightly pink in color. The older the animal, the redder they will be.

Here’s the bottom line tip — THOROUGHLY SOAK AND CLEAN THE SWEETBREADS TO ENSURE A VERY PLEASANT TASTE…

Once the sweetbreads have been peeled, deveined and washed, they can be blanched for a short time to reduce later cooking time, or they can be breaded and deep fried immediately. Barbecuing and grilling are also popular ways to prepare them. The taste is said to be reminiscent of bacon, although some say the main attraction is the silky texture, not necessarily the flavor.

Besides their amazing flavor and texture, sweetbreads are nearly impossible to overcook. Unlike a slab of liver, you can sear the exterior of sweetbread to your heart’s content, without worrying about the interior turning chewy and tough. Your cooking timeframe, in other words, is extremely forgiving and long — minutes long, rather than seconds.

The only real concern? What flavors to pair with this dish of crispy, tender thymus and pancreas glands. Keep it simple…something sour, like lemon or other citrus flavors, with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. The acidic component is a nice complement for the richness of the glands.

Make sure you remove the membrane from the organ when you bring home your sweetbreads. I soaked my Sweetbreads for over 24 hours, and I very carefully cleaned them. I boiled them for a about 20 minutes with fresh cherries and hibiscus leaves…just trying to be “fancy”…SMILE! After boiling, they were dropped in an ice bath for a few minutes and cleaned.

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What I did next was pure experimentation…I seasoned and SMOKED them for about 45 minutes … and then pan fried them with corn flour. SHAZAAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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I served them with mixed vegetables and roasted N. Mexico Hatch Chiles…

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