Month: March 2015

IMG_3065

Mexican Lime Soup with chicken

In an effort to enjoy as much soup as possible before the warmer weather hits, I made this Mexican Lime chicken soup.  Soups satisfy my comfort food cravings in the winter time.  Just a bowl for lunch in the winter is enough to fill me till dinner.  My soup section in my recipe book is close to bursting.   When I saw this recipe from a Williams-Sonoma booklet, I had to add it to my already bursting soup section.    It ticked all the boxes for me, hearty with pieces of chicken, fragrant, spicy with the jalapeno chilli and tart with the lime juice.  Another bowl?  Yes please.

Mexican Lime Soup with Chicken

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 3 or 4 limes
  • 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves, each about 10 oz.  (I used the leftovers of a roasted chicken)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste if needed
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalepeno chili, seeded and minced
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I used home-made broth from the carcass of the roasted chicken)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano (I used regular oregano).
  • 1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
  • 2 oz. queso fresco or mild feta cheese crumbled

Method

  1. Cut lime into 4 to 6 wedges; set aside for serving.  Juice as many of the remaining limes as needed to measure 1/4 cup.
  2. Chop up cooked chicken pieces and set aside. Add the onion to the pan and saute until translucent, about 4 minutes.  Add the garlic and chili and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the broth, 2 cups water, the lime juice and oregano and add the chicken to the pan.
  3. Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover partially and simmer for 20 minutes.  Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.
  4. Put the avocado, cheese and lime wedges in separate small bowls.  Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and serve immediately.  Pass the avocado, feta cheese and lime wedges alongside.

IMG_3068

IMG_3067Just messing with some camera settings and styling below :)

IMG_3082

IMG_3085

Come join us at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #61.  Selma @Selma’s Table and Margy @ La Petite Casserole will be on hand to co-host.  Thanks a bunch ladies.  Do visit their wonderfully creative blogs to see what they bring to the table too.

A vegetarian medley

IMG_3009

In the hopes of incorporating some more vegetarian meals in our diet, I set out to explain to hubby why we should be eating purely vegetarian at least 3-4 times a week.  I hear his grunts, his moans and I ignore them.  Don’t get me wrong, we do try to eat sensibly, fish, vegetables and often chicken or turkey.  We try to stay away from red meat, but do indulge every so often.  There’s nothing like a nice roast lamb, a good beef stew, a juicy steak and hubby’s favorite pork chops. There are a few vegetarian bloggers that come up with such a variety of dishes, it just blows me away.  I’ve made a couple of vegetarian dishes today, including my surprise dessert at the end of this post.

The above was a Potato/Tomato and Mushroom Gratin.  I just added spices as I went along, and it was super-perfect!  I sauteed and caramelized the onions first, then added some garlic, oregano, Italian seasonings, fresh parsley, thyme, rosemary and some white wine.  I added cherry tomatoes and layered the casserole with potatoes and alternated with a layer of the vegetable mixture.  I baked it in the oven covered for 40 minutes, then  added some grated Parmesan and rammed it under the broiler for a few seconds.  It was a hit, hubby loves potatoes in anything, so this was a winner!

My next vegetarian dish is an old favorite – Spicy Okra in a rich tomato sauce

IMG_3020

Spicy Okra in a rich tomato sauce

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 long fresh green chillies, chopped
  • 4 curry leaves
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 kg okra
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed fresh coriander leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala

Method

  1. Heat oil in large pan; cook onions, stirring until browned lightly.  Add the seeds, cook, stirring until seeds start to pop.  Add garlic, chillies, curry leaves, ground coriander, turmeric, paprika and ginger; cook, stirring until fragrant.
  2. Add okra, stir to coat in the spice mixture.  Add water, paste, vinegar and sugar, boil, then immediately simmer covered about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally or until okra is tender.  Just before serving, stir in coriander leaves and sprinkle with garam masala.

My last dish I will be presenting today is Secretly Healthy Fudge Bites.   Would you believe it if I told you the ingredients included a can of black beans?  I’ve made these a few times, and they definitely satisfy my inner chocolate cravings.  Pitted dates, applesauce, Hershey’s cocoa powder and chocolate chips were among some of the other ingredients.   I’ve frozen a secret stash for a rainy day :)).  Just look at the chocolatey goodness with a light drizzle of chocolate ganache to down it all :) The best part??? You cannot even taste the black beans.  We had some friends around for dinner last night.  Their wee 5 year old, asked for seconds, what a great way to get the healthy benefits in  :))

I’m off to Fiesta Friday #60, hosted by the ever lovely and gracious Angie@TheNoviceGardener.  This week her co-hosts are Tracy@ScratchitCook and Nancy@FeastingwithFriends.  I’m very excited that Angie has worked hard to implement a self-hosted site for us, we can now, dance, mingle, drink, feast and party on till the wee hours.  Thanks Tracy and Nancy, be sure to check out their creative blogs friends.  Also, let’s be sure to welcome newcomers, comment on other blogs, enjoy each others creations and have a rollicking good time.  Cheers friends :)

IMG_3008

Moist Chocolate Cake (No eggs, No butter) Recipe

I have such a weakness for desserts, (I’m sure many of you can attest to that), but when it comes to chocolate, I just swoon and let my inhibitions fly out the window.  I could happily eat chocolate every single day, and for that reason alone, I do not keep it in the house.  I’ve seen some wonderful chocolate recipes from other bloggers that I bookmark regularly, however when I saw Jhul’s chocolate cake recipe with no eggs and no butter in this rich moist chocolate cake, I was sold.  I needed it, and I needed it NOW.  I try to save making desserts when we have company or when our girls visit, but this one was going to be MY special treat.  I would chop it up and freeze it in little bits and bobs so that I would not feel compelled to eat it in one sitting :).  Thanks to Jhuls for this recipe from her blog, do visit her blog, she’s a witty, warm and wonderful person from the Philippines.

Moist Chocolate Cake (No eggs, No butter)

  • Servings: 8 slices
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (I used less)
  • 2/3 cup + 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons soy milk
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Icing sugar for dusting

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 320 deg F.
  2. Combine and mix the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and baking powder in large bowl.
  3. Mix the milk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract in another bowl.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until combined, do not over mix.
  5. Pour the batter in a greased and floured 8″ round baking pan.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Let the cake cool on a cooling rack, dust with icing sugar before serving.
  8. This can be kept in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

IMG_3003

Linking this to Angie’s Fiesta Friday #60.

IMG_2985

Stuffed Tomatoes and a tribute to Nana

What do stuffed tomatoes and a tribute to Nana have in common you might ask?  Well, after 94 years filled with incidents, my dear mother-in-law passed away on March 1st in her sleep.  I will always remember the stuffed tomatoes she cooked, they were my favorite when she visited.  She was an inspiration to me in more ways than one.  She stood for what she believed in, her most famous quote was “I will always call a spade, a spade”.  She was a diligent worker, spent most of her working life teaching Special Education, and had a passion for music.  She still practiced the piano in her 80’s, played scrabble and boggle and enjoyed card games.  She was an avid reader, at 86 she wrote her memoirs and had a canny sense of humor.  We will be publishing her memoirs for the extended family in the next few weeks.  She was generous and genuine, always worrying about the person who had less than her and always helped those in need.

Her full life spanned a few continents, India, UK, Canada, Australia.  Her memoirs recall her time in India, then moving to England when India became independent in 1947, another move to Canada and again another to Australia when she married again at 72, after being widowed for a few years.  I will always remember her letters to our children from Australia.  Such vivid descriptions of the country, how she heard the kookaburra, saw kangaroos in the wild, the beautiful colored birds and wrote about the fragrance of the stunning tropical flora.  We were fortunate enough to have taken a trip to Australia when she lived there.  It was a trip that she planned for us, covering Sydney, Brisbane and Perth, that trip will be etched in our memories forever.  She could debate on any topic and had an opinion on everything – she could discuss Margaret Thatcher and Saddam Hussein in the same breath, she was in tune with the affairs of the world and was never afraid to give her take on it.  A couple years ago we were at her bank helping her with some of her accounts.  They asked if she could make up a password, without batting an eyelid she said “Hitler”, like I said, her humor was extraordinary!  The girls and I were blessed and fortunate to have had her in our lives for 35 years, may she live on in our hearts forever!

Tomato cutlets, as she referred to them was my absolute favorite among other dishes.  Today, I made them in her honor accompanied with tomato rice pilaf (also her recipe).  I scooped out the tomato first and set aside the fleshy parts for the rice.  I used ground turkey and an array of spices that I had ground in a blender (masala).  The spices included a large bunch of cilantro, green chillies, cumin, salt, sugar, garlic, ginger, cloves, cardamom, tamarind, cinnamon, tumeric and a good splash of vinegar.  I usually make up a batch of this and refrigerate it, using it on anything and everything really.  Roasts, hamburgers, shepherds pie, baked fish, curries etc.  After I stuff the tomatoes with the ground turkey, I sprinkle some breadcrumbs on top and flip it over in a hot skillet to get the tops brown – I then bake it in the oven till the tomatoes are cooked.  For the rice, I use basmati rice, I fried some onions with whole spices, chopped up the scooped tomatoes and let it saute with the onions for a bit, I added cilantro, chicken stock and let the rice cook till ready.  Here are some pictures to give you an idea.

IMG_2967

IMG_2975

IMG_2977

IMG_2980

IMG_2989

IMG_2997

I’m off to our virtual party at Fiesta Friday, a happening, bopping party that takes place each Friday.  Our ever gracious host Angie@TheNoviceGardener is always so warm and welcoming.  Her 2 co-hosts Jhuls@thenotsocreativecook and Mila@MilkandBun will be on hand to meet and greet. Have a look at their blogs for extra ideas and inspiration.  Thanks ladies for taking us on.  Much appreciated.

The Beauty of Brazil

Dear Fellow Bloggers and Readers, I had taken a bit of a hiatus from the blogging world for the past couple of weeks as we lost my mother in law in Canada. It was an upsetting time for all and I was consumed with a whole range of emotions both mentally and physically. My next post will be dedicated to her.

Today, I’d like to re-blog this post on Brazil. It was exactly a year ago last March that we took this trip. I had been thinking of blogging, writing a journal, cataloging my travel adventures, and Safari of the Mind was born. I also wanted to showcase some of my experiences in the kitchen, gardening and travel. At the time I was pretty proud of my first post, it took me almost a month to put together. My blogging experiences have exploded since then. I’ve met some amazing folks from around the world, I’ve learned new and innovative ways to present. I’ve taken online courses to improve the blog content and photography and I’ve interacted with some very special folks.

I hope you will take the time to read this wonderful travel adventure in Brazil. Social Media has taken on a whole new meaning for me. Thanks friends :)

Safari of the Mind

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Little is known about the history of Brazil before 1500.  When the Portuguese arrived in 1500, the Brazilian population consisted of over 5 million indigenous people. When their numbers began depleting, the Portuguese started shipping slaves from Africa in the mid-16th century.  Over the centuries, Brazil’s peoples were diversified further by several waves of immigration from the Middle East, Asia and Europe.

When Debra and Bruno invited us to Brazil, there was no hesitation on our part to accept, and before you know it, I was happily making reservations, researching places, getting visas processed and getting ready for a trip of a lifetime.

And so our journey begins… The 10 hour flight from JFK to Sao Paulo is not as bad as I had anticipated. I pass the time watching movies, reading, knitting, playing games and watching the map in the seat in front of me.  The descent into Sao Paulo is breathtaking: mountain ranges…

View original post 944 more words