Category Archives: Sauces

Cooking Fun

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In Pittsburgh, I live near the Squirrel Hill Tunnels which is one of the main points of getting in and out of the city. Well, it’s under some construction work which forces the traffic down closer to my home one way street. Plus the hammering and beeping of trucks even during the early mornings force me to think of ways not to scream at the workers or drivers blowing their horns when the traffic is stalled like it’s going to move them out of the way. My little kitchen to the rescue of my sanity and voice not to mention all those who are disturbing my beauty rest.

steak dish

I checked with my fellow foodies, friends and family about the combination for my dish experimentation. One of the dish is my turkey meatball with mango relish and spicy sweet potato fries. The other is Onion steak covered in tomato sauce with garlic spinach and popcorn brown rice with black eye peas and black beans. Now, I’ve made all the different dishes before but this is the first time I’ve put them together. I’m always concerned about one flavor overriding another instead of working together to make perfect harmony on the taste buds.

Turkey meat always need a bit of oomph, to me anyway, with some seasoning and a bit of olive oil in the mixture before placing into the oven covered to start to keep in moisture then uncovered for a bit of browning. Sometimes, I’ll start it on the stove top to get the browning and then place into the oven covered until completely cooked to keep that juicy flavor. Depending on the dish. I will sometimes place it in my desired cooking sauce but since I was putting it on my mango relish I didn’t place any sauce on the balls or on the plate.

meatball finish dish

The spicy sweet potato fries are one of my favorites to make but are also a bit time consuming. I work on getting the sweet potato cut into strings but next time I will work on cutting it into steak size bites instead.

After taking off the skin and cutting into desired size and shape, I place the sweet potatoes into a shallow pan, drizzle olive oil over, toss on cajan pepper, salt, pepper, oregano and a bit of parsley. Pop the pan into the oven for at least 45 minutes at 425-degrees. Depending on the texture you desire, you can leave it in the oven a bit longer but I like mine since I cut them small to have a bit of that soft tenderness when biting into it.

Here’s the before and after photos.

mango startmango finshed

My mango relish consist of fresh mango, onion, green pepper, salt, pepper, olive oil and parsley. I combine all the igrendents in a sauce pan over low heat, continual stirring so the mango is broken down but still allow for some pieces to burst with juices in the mouth.

The second dish – Onion Steak with tomato sauce, garlic spinach and popcorn brown rice with black eyed peas and black beans remind me of things my daddy likes to eat. I seasoned the steak with paprika, salt, paprika, cumin, and dried parsley. Then I place the sliced onions onto top of the steaks then into the oven coverered to start then uncovered for five minutes. Topping the steak is the tomato sauce which consists of quartered fresh tomatoes, salt, pepper, dried parsley and olive oil. All combine in a sauce pan on top of low heat. The garlic spinach is the easiest to make with just fresh spinach, garlic, salt and pepper and a bit olive oil. Yes, I love adding olive oil to my dishes that’s a stateside thing I picked up doing since leaving the islands. I start with a boiling pot of water, where I add the olive oil, salt and pepper. Then place the spinach and diced garlic until cooked down. Onto the popcorn brown rice with black eye peas and black beans.

rice cooking

This is actually a two step dish since I needed to cook the black eye peas and black beans with a piece of ham bone then add to the cooking brown rice. Now, you should know if you’re using fresh black eye peas and black beans, you will have to soak them overnight. Then you cook them in a pot with salt, pepper, heavily diced onion and pats of butter and a ham bone. After this combination is cooked you start a pot for the popcorn brown rice, placing olive oil and salt in a boiling pot. Add the popcorn rice, cook, when the grains have begun to soften add the black eye peas and black beans mixture with some of the water it was cooked in. Stir and cover. Check the pot so the rice doesn’t burn or cook out the water without cooking the rice to the consistency desired. My parents, especially my daddy, hated shatter grain rice. This is what he called rice that is cooked but is still too hard.

Here’s to more sleepless nights as construction work continue near me and my little kitchen gets a workout. I’ll let you know what I come up with next.

Enjoy the Simple Things

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Whirl Magazine

I enjoy essential oils! Did I say enjoy, make that love essential oils! Their pure essence makes it possible to heal and cure the body of ailments. Bring wondrous scents to living space and uplift a dish. Though, I knew some of the oils needed to make a dish blaze like sun through a fog. I wasn’t exactly sure about the usage amount for many of the oils and there’s nothing worse than putting too much in a dish, ruining the taste for all time.

So I was greatly surprised when Whirl Magazine provided a contest to win the “Everyday Cooking with Essential Oils,” cookbook on their website and I won! Now the first thing I tried out was the Red Sangria mixture.

I had visited a Spanish restaurant in Cleveland last year were I enjoyed the most delicious red sangria! It was so good, I had more than one tasty glass full. When I asked the server she told me an essential oil was used but she couldn’t tell me which one. No bother now because I have my book and will be making my own.

Now, the book calls for lemon and lime essential oil to be used along with the other ingredients such as brandy, rum and red burgundy. I usually add extracts but the oil provided a different overall taste. Now, don’t make the mistake I did with my first batch thinking if a couple of drops are good, a couple more will not hurt. Uhm! Yes, it will change the taste to something you do not want in your mouth.

This was my mistake again while making the red pepper dip and pineapple orange sauce. Yuck! I will try both again and stick with the recipe amounts until I get a better hang of what to do.

Here’s the thing. If you don’t make mistakes or try to figure out things for yourself along the way, no way will you grow as a cook. Part of the fun and journey is making mistakes but the other part is having chefs, cooks and cookbooks pointing you onto a path to try.

Here’s to tasty and happy mistakes.