Category Archives: Fruity Flavors

Mango and Avocado Quinoa Salad with Blackened Shrimp

When I was precisely 16 years and 5 months old I went on a trip to Peru. I remember my age exactly because only my 16 year and 5 month old self would get on a plane to one of the most amazing and culturally rich places in the world, kicking and screaming.  It’s quite embarrassing for me to admit it today since I would go absolutely anywhere in a heartbeat, but at the time, I didn’t want to go.

I was the only one left in the house after my older sisters had all moved out and my mom and step-father (a native Peruvian) wanted to bring me along with them to South America.  Being the dramatic teenager I was I thought for sure that my life would end immediately if I missed out on three whole weeks of summer happenings in my tiny Ohio town.  The idea of doing anything other than painting my fingernails and reading teen magazines did not interest me.

The plan for the trip was to first fly into Lima to stay with some family.  After a week of exploring the city we would continue on to a few smaller towns, visit more family, and then eventually end up in Cusco to do a four day hike to Machu Picchu.  Which, by the way, I showed up in the Andes mountains for this half of a week long hike up a mountain, never having hiked before, wearing a pair of Sketchers boots, and a backpack full of Seventeen magazines and nail polish. I vividly remember standing on the top of the mountain next to a group of four Frenchmen, who had been training for this hike for months, as I flipped through and re-read my test scores from the “What kind of boyfriend is he” quiz. 

Lima, Machu Picchu, Cusco…none of those words really meant anything to me at the time because, not only had I never been to Peru, I had never been out of the country before.  I had no idea what it was like to see the world and my expectations were low (how could anything be better than Ohio?).  I was skeptical all the way up to, and even after, getting off that plane and stepping foot into Lima.  I remember how we sifted through taxi after taxi lined up outside to make sure we got in a legit car since they’ve been known to just slap a “Taxi Cab” sticker on the door to make a few bucks.  I remember how I was told that sometimes they’ll even kidnap you and hold you for a ransom to make a few bucks more.  I remember how we got in the taxi with a driver going 720 miles an hour, swerving through traffic while almost hitting a man walking a goat on a leash downtown Lima.   And then I remember thinking, Oh my god.  I’m going to love this place!

It was all so new and exciting and everything about it was intriguing. I especially loved the food. I had never experienced tasting the cuisine and dining cultures of a different group of people before and of all places, Peru seriously does it right.  Foods like quinoa and ceviche are everywhere. Fresh avocado, freshly squeezed oj carts going down the streets, I loved every bite of everything I put in my mouth.  Even some questionable things that I will refrain from sharing with you!

I am so grateful for the experience and it truly helped shape me into the passionate traveler and food lover that I am today.   When I eat foods like quinoa it always makes me nostalgic thinking back to the time when I had it first.  Every bite of the mild and nutty grain is better than the next.  It’s times like this that food…is more than just food.

 Mango and Avocado Quinoa Salad with Blackened Shrimp

Serves 2 large lunch sized portions, or 4 smaller portions

Quinoa

(you can use all water if you prefer, but I think the chicken stock gives it a nice added flavor)

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • salt
  • 1 large mango, pitted and diced
  • 1 large avocado, pitted and diced
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • Cilantro, a large handful chopped (about ½ cup)
  • Freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1-2 tbs olive oil
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • salt
  • pepper

Blackened Shrimp

  • 1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and devained
  • blackening seasoning (or you can buy prepared blackening seasoning)
  • salt
  • 2 tbs olive oil

Begin by rinsing your quinoa under cold water.  Next, add your quinoa, water, chicken stock and pinch of salt to a medium sized pot.  Bring to a boil and then cover with a lid and turn the heat down to a simmer. Continue to simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. 

For the shrimp, place all the shrimp in a large ziplock bag, add your blackening seasoning, a little salt and a drizzle of olive oil and shake to coat completely.  Heat another tbsp olive oil to medium-high heat in a large pan.  Cook the shrimp on each side for just a couple minutes, or until they turn pink.  Shrimp cook very quickly, so be sure not to overcook.

Mix the quinoa with the remaining ingredients, season with salt and pepper and serve with the shrimp and fresh cilantro garnish

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Filed under All Posts, Appetizers and the likes, Fruity Flavors, Healthy Options, Peru, Recipes, Scrumpdidily Salads, Seafood, Seasonal - Spring, Side Dishes

Maple Pumpkin Butter

We’re back in the saddle with our monthly Really Healthy recipes over at The Magazine of Yoga and this month is the perfect way to throw a little balance into your turkey-filled Thanksgiving week.  A nice twist on your classic pumpkin butter.  No heat necessary — just mix in creamy greek yogurt for a festive and healthy spread!  Check out The Magazine of Yoga for the complete recipe.

Wishing you all a wonderful and delicious Turkey Day!

 

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Filed under All Posts, Appetizers and the likes, Breakfast; the most important meal of the day, Fruity Flavors, Healthy Options, Holidays - Thanksgiving, Recipes, Seasonal - Fall, Sweet Treats

The answers you’ve been waiting for!

What a great way to end such a lovely Spring week!  Do you want to know my secret for making healthy food that tastes great?  What about some tips for those of you who think cooking is too time-consuming or complicated?   Check out my answers here along with lots of other helpful tips from my interview with  The Magazine of Yoga.  I also share with you my culinary role models, my take on whether great cooks are born or made, and divulge my all-time, ultimate comfort food!

P.S.  And while you’re there don’t forget to hop on over to this gorgeous Mango Cucumber Salad recipe that will leave your taste buds tantalized and refreshed!

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Filed under All Posts, Fruity Flavors, Healthy Options, Recipes, Seasonal - Spring, Side Dishes, Uncategorized

Light and fluffy Blueberry Muffins

As you’ve probably noticed I’ve been on a short hiatus from Daily Crave these last few weeks, and I owe you all my sincerest apologies!   My time away has been spent focusing mostly on work, but also included a much-needed break.  We did what every other person does in the middle of the nation’s worst winter and planned an escape.   Ahhh, a perfect getaway that involved oceanside pina coladas in the blazing sun with breathtaking views of the surf  breathtaking views of …a snow-covered ski mountain?

Now, one would think this was a ski trip, but that would just make too much sense.  Our northern getaway to New Hampshire was nothing of the sort.  You see, my sherpa of a husband enjoys torturing  challanging himself and hiking up ice-covered peaks for two days straight in single digit temps.  I don’t quite get this mentality, similarly to how he doesn’t quite understand how fresh-out-of-the-oven, blueberry-studded muffins on a cold winter night can make me so giddy.  So, here is when we just agree to disagree.

Blueberry Muffins

(derived from Simply Recipes)

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 tbsp unsalted, softened butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 tbsp sugar + 2 tsp cinnamon for topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Grease muffin pan or place wrappers in pan.

In a large bowl mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a mixer cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time. And beat in lemon peel. Alternate the dry ingredients with the yogurt in three separate stages, beginning with the flour.  Beat until just incorporated.   Be sure to not overbeat.  Fold in berries.

Spoon in the batter to the muffin tin evenly and sprinkle the top with sugar and cinnamon mixture.  Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.   Cool for about 5 minutes and serve warm.

Makes 12-16 

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Raspberry Crumble Bars

More sweets?  I know.  Don’t hate me.  As if you haven’t had enough sugar from this pumpkin pie and Christmas cookie-coated season. 

I hate to do it to you.  I really do.  But trust me when I tell you that these are worth taking a 15 minute break from your holiday to-do list to whip some up.  They are so quick and easy, and also make for a lovely gift. 

You can find tons of holiday tins and festive boxes at most craft stores which will allow you create a beautiful little package to give.  A perfect homemade-from-the-heart holiday gesture!

Crumb Mixture

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 egg

Filling

  • 3/4 cup (good quality) raspberry preserves

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, pecans, butter and egg. Beat at low speed until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Set aside 2 cups of crumb mixture for later.

Press remaining crumb mixture on bottom of greased 8-inch square baking pan. Spread preserves to within 1/2 inch of edge. Crumble reserved 2 cups of crumb mixture over preserves.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely.
(If using a dark or nonstick bakng pan, reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes.)

Recipe from Land O’Lakes.

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Filed under All Posts, Fruity Flavors, Recipes, Sweet Treats

Raspberry Macarons

 

Simply put, a good macaron (not to be confused with macaroon) will completely and totally sweep you off your feet.  The delicately crisp outer shell surrounding a moist airy interior creates a meringue like texture that leaves you in a state of utter smitten-ness.  Oh yes, and you take two of those heavenly meringue cookies and sandwich them together with a dab of filling and it will send you over the sweet-lovin’ edge.

If you’ve been to Paris you know exactly what I’m talking about.  Patisseries everywhere show off colorful variations of this chic French confection with endless flavors ranging from pistachio to espresso to fruit-filled goodness.

But the sad part to all of this is that I don’t live in Paris.   And the thought of taking five minutes to combine four simple ingredients to make my own totally freaks me out.  I’ve heard of so many disheartened macaron stories and failed endings due to their finicky nature that I wasn’t quite ready to take on the task…until I saw this:

Making French Macarons: Instructions & Recipes  

David Lebovitz has complied dozens of blogs, websites and demonstrations on how to make the perfect macaron. With tips like aging your eggs whites for at least 24 hours prior and techniques on handling your batter this article will direct you to places all over the web where French professionals divulge their secrets.  Halle-freaking-lujah!  Let the baking begin!

Raspberry Filled Macarons:

(Recipe derived from Tartelette)

For the macarons:
90 grams of egg whites (about 3 eggs)
30 gr granulated sugar
200 gr powdered sugar
110 gr almonds
pink food coloring

For the whites: the day before (24hrs), separate your eggs and store the whites at room temperature in a covered container. If you want to use 48hrs (or more) egg whites, you can store them in the fridge. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry and your macarons won’t work. Combine the almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Pass through a sieve. Add them to the meringue,with the coloring and give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that flows like magma or a thick ribbon. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper lined baking sheets. Preheat the oven to 300F. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don’t let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer.

To assemble:  spread raspberry preserves in the center of two cookies

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Filed under All Posts, France, Fruity Flavors, Recipes, Sweet Treats

Old Fashioned Pancakes with Caramelized Apples

Sometimes it’s the simple recipes that steal my heart.  The ones that are so classic, so familiar, just so…..right.  It’s a given that everyone loves pancakes (well, everyone who’s anyone).  And if you don’t, this is your chance.  For the love of breakfast! 

These pancakes are derived from one of my favorite pancake recipes from a gal named Dakota Kelly. 

Old Fashioned Pancakes

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

Caramelized Apples

  • 4 apples peeled and cored, such as golden delicious
  • 1/4 cup butter, unsalted
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar

 For Pancakes: In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cinnamon. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, egg, vanilla and melted butter; mix until smooth.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

For Apples: Slices apples and melt butter in sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add apples and saute for about 4 minutes. Add sugar and cook until they are golden brown and tender.

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Filed under All Posts, Breakfast; the most important meal of the day, Fruity Flavors, Recipes, Seasonal - Fall, Sweet Treats