The Perfect Peppermint Bark

AIMG_3476One of our much anticipated holiday traditions is the making of Peppermint Bark. It started with my mother who purchased some Bark, which she shared with us, about 6 years ago. Everybody loved the sweet treat. Then the following year she read a recipe in the newspaper and decided to hand-make Bark for the family. The first batch was a little too thick and difficult to cut, but yummy anyway. The next year, she collaborated with my brother-in-law John to produce a fantastic Bark. The year after that, John enthusiastically took over the Bark making completely, tweaking the recipe with his top-secret ingredients. He has been perfecting it every holiday season since. Here’s this year’s formerly secret recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 10 oz. dark chocolate
  • 5 oz. white chocolate
  • 5 oz. Hershey Kisses (candy cane variety)
  • 4 to 6 candy canes

INSTRUCTIONS:

Cover a large cookie sheet with wax paper. Melt the dark chocolate and pour onto the lined cookie sheet. Smooth it out into a thin layer with a plastic spatula. Put it into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to harden. Melt together 3/4 of the white chocolate & all the Hershey kisses and pour on top of the hardened dark chocolate layer. Smooth out to cover completely. Break up 4 – 6 candy canes and sprinkle on the top layer. The final artistic touch is to spoon the left-over white chocolate on top. Put it back in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to harden. Remove from the refrigerator and cut the Bark in squares with a pizza cutter or knife. Place the squares into a holiday tin. Put the tin in the freezer for 10-15 minutes for the Bark to harden completely. And now it’s ready to eat!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!

Pasta with Collard Greens

IMG_3376 (2)I wasn’t fond of collard greens so when I saw a big bunch of them in my CSA box, I thought I’d incorporate them in a pasta dish. I started with the recipe in the newsletter and modified it a bit. First of all, I added more garlic. My motto is that if you add enough fresh garlic to any greens, they will taste better. So here are the ingredients:

  • 12 large collard green leaves (stemmed & ripped-up)
  • 1 red onion (chopped)
  • 4 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • olive oil
  • half of a fresh cayenne pepper (chopped finely)
  • ground black pepper (optional)
  • pasta of your choice (I used whole wheat rotini noodles)
  • parmesan cheese (optional, omit if vegan)

Sauté the onion and garlic in a little olive oil in a deep skillet. When the onion has just turned tender and translucent (in about 5 minutes), add the collard greens and cayenne pepper to the skillet. Add a little water to the pan and simmer until the greens are tender (about 10 minutes), stirring frequently. Add fresh ground black pepper, if you wish. Cook the pasta in a separate pot. When the pasta is done, you can serve it on plates and add the collard greens mixture on the top, as I did, or blend it with the noodles before serving. If you eat cheese, sprinkle shaved or shredded parmesan on the dish. Serves 2-4 people.

For someone who had never liked collard greens, this dish was a tasty revelation! I also loved the extra zest the cayenne pepper provided.

Cream of Potato & Fennel Soup w/Mushrooms

IMG_3374I wasn’t sure what to do with the giant fennel bulb that came in my CSA box yesterday, so I started with the soup recipe that came in the newsletter and modified it a bit. Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 onion
  • 2 medium thin-skinned potatoes
  • 2 ½ cups water or stock
  • ½ cup mushrooms
  • olive oil
  • ground black pepper

Chop-up the fennel bulb and onion and cook in a little water, until soft. Add cubed potatoes and rest of water. Simmer until potato is soft. Use a hand-blender (or other method) to cream the soup. In a separate skillet, sauté the mushrooms in oil or use the mushrooms raw if you prefer. Pour soup into bowls, add mushrooms and a feathery fennel garnish to each. Serves 4.

The soup tastes similar to potato/leak but with a hint of anise from the fennel.

Artichoke & Avocado Salad

IMG_2803 (2)The Day 2 Dinner recipe I made from The22DayRevolution is Artichoke, Tomato and Avocado Salad. The ingredients listed in the book are:

  • 1 box grape tomatoes
  • Haas avocado
  • 1 BPA-free can artichoke hearts
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp Kalamata olives
  • Dash paprika

I used chopped-up plum tomatoes because that is what I had at the time I made the salad. Instead of the olives I used olive oil and mixed it with lemon from my tree. If you have fresh artichokes, use them rather than the canned ones. Lastly, I garnished the dish with fresh basil from my herb garden. This was an easy, basic recipe that makes 2-3 servings. Thumb up on this one!

Beans over Sweet Potato

IMG_2811 (2)The Day 2 Lunch recipe I made from The 22-Day Revolution is called Spanish Beans over Sweet Potato. The ingredients are:

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 cup black beans
  • ½ small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • dash salt & ground black pepper

I used oregano from my herb garden and garnished with tomato and avocado. There are no fancy foods here, just basic stuff. I loved this meal; it was easy to make and very satisfying. The recipe makes 2-3 servings.

Lean Green Juice

IMG_2733 (2)The Day 2 Breakfast recipe I made from The 22-Day Revolution is Lean Green Juice. The ingredients listed in the book are:

  • 4 stalks of kale
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 2 Granny Smith apples (cored)
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 pitted dates
  • 1 frozen banana

I used fresh lemon from the little Meyer Lemon Tree my aunt gave me. It’s a “miniature” plant that I have growing in a container on my patio, but the fruit is regular size. The first time I made this juice I prepared it exactly as described. It was very tasty. The second time I whipped it up, I substituted Star Fruit for the apple just because I have a ton of Carambola in my yard. Also very tasty. Thumb up on this recipe, which can be a healthy meal-replacer if you’re trying to lose weight.

Tacos!?

IMG_2753 (2)I love Mexican food. I have eaten countless tacos, burritos, enchiladas, pinto beans, salsas, etc.  Wherever I have lived, I’ve always managed to find at least one good place that serves yummy Mexican food. I’ve made it myself. And, of course, I have eaten delicious Mexican food… in Mexico.  So when I saw that the Day 1 Dinner recipe in The 22-Day Revolution was a recipe for tacos, I got excited. And then I read through the ingredients and discovered that the “shells” are lettuce leaves. What?! I figured the tacos wouldn’t have any meat and I didn’t have a problem with that… but lettuce shells?! The thing is that when I hear the word “taco”, my mouth begins to salivate for something warm, wrapped in a corn shell. Lettuce is a let-down for something called a taco. Something wrapped in lettuce is a “lettuce wrap.” I like “lettuce wraps”—just don’t call them tacos, please.

Here are the ingredients for the Raw Walnut Tacos in the book, which I prefer to call Raw Walnut LETTUCE WRAPS:

Filling Ingredients

  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tbsp coconut aminos
  • Dash paprika, garlic powder, ground black pepper

Garnish Ingredients

  • 2 Haas avocados
  • ½ pint cherry tomatoes
  • ½ tbsp dried parsley flakes
  • 1 lime
  • Pinch salt & ground black pepper

I used fresh garlic and fresh parsley from my garden. I didn’t use the “coconut aminos” because I didn’t know what that was and didn’t have any. The recipe was enough for 6 lettuce wraps. They were flavor-full and refreshing. I did like them. But I won’t call them T_ _ _ _!

 

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

What is Quinoa?

IMG_2744 (2)The Day 1 Lunch recipe I made from The 22-Day Revolution is Quinoa Salad with Lentils. The ingredients are:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 large carrot
  • spinach
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Dash ground pepper

I didn’t actually know what Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”) was before reading the book and doing a little research, though I had eaten it previously. Quinoa is the edible seeds of an ancient grain that originated in the Andean region of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Columbia. It is high in protein—containing more protein per calorie than brown rice, potatoes, barley and millet. It has a low gluten content and is said to be well tolerated by people with celiac disease. The seeds are generally cooked like rice, and used in a wide variety of dishes.

I purchased both White Quinoa, grown in Bolivia, and a Tri-Color Blend, grown in the U.S. and containing white, brown, red and black seeds. I used the Tri-Color Blend in this salad. The recipe is enough for four and was very tasty.

 

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Jonathan’s Shake

4 (2)We were at ROBERT IS HERE fruit stand, in Homestead, waiting in line to order one of their famous fresh fruit shakes. There was a menu on the wall, listing all kinds of fruits that were available for shakes & smoothies. When it was our turn Jonathan said, “I’ll have a Guanábana Mamey shake.” I had never tasted either of those fruits so I asked him about them. “Never tried them,” he said, “I liked the sound of the names.”  “Seriously?! You ordered a shake made with fruits you’ve never even heard of!” I replied. He couldn’t even pronounce Guanábana. He called it guana-banana. I was impressed with his order, none-the-less. The cold concoction arrived and I sampled it. And then proceeded to drink half of it before Jon took it away from me. I will say that it was the best tasting milkshake I had ever had. If I would have died after drinking it, it would have been with a very satisfied smile on my face. That must have been about 10 years ago. Since then I have turned countless people onto Jonathan’s Shake.

RECIPE Ingredients:
16 oz. mamey
14 oz. guanábana (soursop)
8 oz. ice cream OR milk (whatever kind you like: soy, nut or diary)

Instructions: You can use fresh or frozen fruit. For the shake to have a thick consistency, some of the ingredients need to be frozen to start with–either the fruit, milk or ice cream. If you prefer a smoothie, just substitute the ice cream/milk with ice and water. Don’t worry about exact measurements. You can use equal parts of each of the fruits or slightly more of the mamey. Put everything in a strong blender and blend. This makes 2 tall glasses of fruit bliss.

For more soursop (guanábana) info, picture and recipe: Papaya/Soursop Smoothie or Shake
For more mamey info and pictures go to Fruit Stand Loot

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Refreshing Avocado & Star Fruit Salad

016dc0f4451 (3)On a base of Spring Mix Lettuces, add pieces of avocado, tomato, garlic and onion. Rim with Carambola (Star Fruit). The Spring Mix contains: romaine, oak leaf, chard, mizuna, arugula, radicchio and spinach. You can drizzle a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the top. It really doesn’t need much “dressing” because all the fruit in the salad adds moisture.

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.