This Thanksgiving – I’m on your side

Holiday roasted turkey. Photo credit: Ralphs Website

There are a lot of decisions to make when it comes to preparing a Thanksgiving turkey.

Organic, natural or solution injected?

To brine or not to brine?

Oven roasted or fried?

It’s pretty head spinning.

By now, you’ve probably made the hard decisions about the bird. If you haven’t, these story links can help.

Talkin’ Turkey Tips with the folks at Ralphs
It’s brine time with Chef Daria
Thanksgiving is all about the turkey, but does it have to be?

But what about the sides? Are you good?

Or –  with all that turkey talk and high figuring, are you in a lurch for one more side dish to make or take as your potluck contribution?

Well, I think this recipe from the good folks at Family Features is perfect for your Thanksgiving dinner. It’s tasty, satisfying and healthy too.  So relax, exhale, you got this. Happy Thanksgiving!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Grapes and Balsamic Glaze

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Grapes and Balsamic Glaze. Photo credit: Family Features

(Family Features) The holiday season is typically marked by gatherings of friends and family. Whether you’re hosting overnight guests, drop-in visitors or an important seasonal meal, taking a fresh approach to the menu can make the get-together more special.

As you prepare for the festivities, consider recipes that feature healthy ingredients such as versatile California grapes, which come in three vibrant colors – red, green and black – and can add a palate-pleasing crunch and plenty of taste to everything from main dishes to sides and even desserts. Heart-healthy grapes are also perfect on their own as a snack and their natural beauty can help enhance any table as an edible garnish or fresh centerpiece.

Using grapes as a featured ingredient in your holiday dishes can provide a fresh twist on seasonal dishes, such as this  Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Grapes and Balsamic Glaze.

Find more holiday recipes at GrapesfromCalifornia.com.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Grapes and Balsamic Glaze
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients

1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup red California grapes
2 tablespoons ready-to-use balsamic glaze

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 450 F.
  2. On baking sheet, toss sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper, to taste, until sprouts are well-coated.
  3. Roast until deep golden brown, about 17-20 minutes, turning sprouts halfway through roasting.
  4. Stir in grapes and roast 3-5 minutes.
  5. Transfer to bowl and drizzle with glaze or drizzle platter with glaze and pile sprouts on top.

Nutritional information per serving: 150 calories; 3 g protein; 20 g carbohydrates; 7 g fat (42% calories from fat); 1 g saturated fat (6% calories from saturated fat); 0 mg cholesterol; 30 mg sodium; 4 g fiber.

Let’s Eat and catch up with Celebrity Chef Jamika

Celebrity Chef Jamika Pessoa. Photo credit: Instagram @chefjamika

Celebrity Chef Jamika Pessoa is one of the fresh, new, and popular personalities on the Food Network.

Viewers fell in love with the Atlanta, Georgia native when she appeared in season 5 of the Next Food Network Star.  She made it to final three, but didn’t take home the coveted, first place title. However, she left an indelible impression on so many, including Iron Chef Michael Simon who said “she naturally lights up a screen.”

The executives at the Food Network agreed and tapped her to be a regular contributor on the show Best Thing I Ever Ate, and to serve as a judge on several popular Food Network show like Clash of the Grandmas, Chopped Jr. and Ultimate Summer Cook-off.

Chef Jamika is currently  lighting up the screen in a brand new Food Network endeavor. The most exciting part of the new project is that it’s on a screen that is as close as your smart phone or tablet.

The new show is called Let’s Eat. Chef Jamika shares co-hosting duties with food and lifestyle expert Brandi Milloy, and celebrity and professional chef Stuart O’Keeffe.

Let’s Eat is a 13-episode Food Network app digital series which takes a contemporary and sometimes whimsical look at food from the hosts’ point of view and through the lens of social media. The recipes are original creations developed by the hosts and the show also features the latest food fads, restaurant tends, and time-saving food hacks. Each episode has lively interaction between the hosts which make viewers feel as if they are cooking right along with them in the kitchen.

On the Let’s Eat set. From left to right: Celebrity and professional chef Stuart O’Keeffe, Celebrity Chef Jamika Pessoa and lifestyle expert Brandi Milloy. Photo credit: Food Network Youtube Channel.

The look and feel of show inarguable attracts millenniums, as it showcases trendy dishes and encourages social media engagement. But it truly targets an audience that have come to rely on their hand held digital devices, along with a array of apps,  for on-demand content in their 24/7 lifestyles. That audience includes, well – most of us. Let’s Eat meets that need and provides engaging content and recipes that are simple to make and on the table without a lot of fuss.

“I would describe it as the most delicious and fun 20 minutes you will experience on your digital device,” said Chef Jamika. “We have dishes for single people, families, holidays and special events. The recipes are easy and include store bought items as well as recipes made from scratch. They are fun,  affordable, and created to make you look like a professional chef.”

She’s absolutely right.

Chef Jamika’s Blue cheese, aged rib-eye steak. Photo credit: Food Network app.

In episode 1, Chef Jamika wowed visitors and viewers with her impressive, droll-worthy, blue cheese, aged rib-eye steak. She infused aged steakhouse flavor into the rib eye with a surprising food hack people are still talking about.

“So many people tagged me and said they had never thought about making a steak that way, but they made it because they saw the show. And now they see it’s not so difficult,” said Chef Jamika. “Cooking doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process. You don’t have to go to culinary school to feel like a chef in the kitchen.”

Left: Parmesan crusted chicken tenders. Right. Chicken tenders transformed into Chicken Picatta. Photo credit: Food Network app.

In episode 9, she dazzles us with her “kiddy plate to dinner date” recipe. In this show she makes Parmesan crusted chicken do double duty as chicken tenders for the kids, and Chicken Picatta for the grown-ups.

It’s undeniable that Chef Jamika brings a lot of style and grace to the show. Her effervescent personality and clever one-liners make her the life of the party.  Her makeup and wardrobe are on point and add to the brilliance of her personality.

Chef Jamika on the set of Let’s Eat. Photo credit: Instagram @chefjamika.

Living in her truth and embracing her personal style and culinary perspective is something Chef Jamika is  very comfortable with. She admits it hasn’t always been that way. She says time and experience have been the best teachers.

“I’ve learned over the years that once you get to that point when you know who you are and what you bring to the table, you have to be confidant and stand in your own truth,” said Chef Jamika.

It’s this very attitude that has made her one of the Food Network’s most popular celebrity chefs. Let’s Eat gives visitors and viewers a chance to see her passion for cooking and her cheerleadering spirit.

“I want people to leave the show thinking wow, I can do that! I not only want to inspire you to make the recipes, I want to inspire you to purse your dreams and passion,” said Chef Jamika as she reminisced about her Food Network journey. “Yes, I am chef and my goal is to get people cooking one meal at a time. But my ultimate calling is to feed people’s souls.”

Chef Jamika on location, trying out a new food trend. Photo credit: Food Network Youtube Channel.

Let’s Eat has a little something for everyone from appetizers, desserts and entrees to the most Instagramable foods. And Chef Jamika says that if visitors and viewers make one of her recipes and tags it #letseat, she just might will give them a shout out.

“Grateful is the word written on my heart,” said Chef Jamika.  “To get to this place and have people support you and wish you well, you just can’t ask for anything more than that.”

Chef Jamika shares her Quick Sausage and Seafood Stew recipe from episode 11. This tasty, hearty stew looks like it takes all day to make, but its on the table in just under an hour.

Make sure to check out all the episodes on Let’s Eat, which can be viewed by downloading the Food Network app from iTunes and  Goggle Play. From the Food Network app just type Let’s Eat in the search bar and get cooking.

Follow Chef Jamika on Instagram @chefjamika, Facebbook at chefjamika, and Twitter at @ChefJamika

Quick Sausage and Seafood Stew

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Recipe credit: Chef Jamika, Food Network app.


Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound sausage (turkey, beef, pork or andouille), cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 cup diced onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup frozen corn kernels
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups chicken broth
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces skinless cod or tilapia fillets, cut into large pieces
8 ounces peeled and deveined medium or large shrimp, tail off
8 ounces mussels, frozen or fresh
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for serving
Cooked rice, for serving, optional

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the sausage and saute until beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the onions, celery and bell pepper and cook until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, corn, Worcestershire sauce and red pepper flakes and cook for 2 minutes. Add the broth and 2 cups water and bring to a rapid boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 8 minutes.
  2. Season with salt and pepper. Add the fish and seafood to the pot and stir well. Cover and cook just until the shrimp are opaque and the mussels are open, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the cilantro to finish.
  3. Serve the stew in bowls garnished with additional cilantro. If serving with rice, spoon about 1/2 cup cooked rice in the center of each bowl first, then top with the stew.
    Cook’s Note
  4. Make this dish more or less extravagant by adding higher end seafood or lower end frozen seafood. This stew is great served with toasted garlic bread.

Quick Sausage and Seafood Stew. Photo credit: Food Network app.

Honestly Dad, it’s all good

Tim Robinson, Honestly Dad. Photo credit: Honestly Dad Blog.

He cooks – bakes, sautés and grills.

He’s an all around athlete who runs, surfs and strength trains as a way of life.

He’s a man who loves his children, his girlfriend, and today he’s loving life to the fullest.

Tim Robinson is the man of the moment.  He loves social media, and it loves him back.

Tim Robinson. Photo credit: Instagram @honestlydadblog.

Good bye corporate America

After a 20 year career in business, Tim walked away from his corporate America job.  This South Orange County, California native said he was done.

“I was tired of the super long days, and weekends,” said Tim. “There were times I’d be coaching my daughter’s soccer game and have to take phone calls. It was just too much.”

Tim said he was at a crossroad in his career. While he had bolstered his savings over a period of time, he admits when he walked away from his job two years ago, he had no idea what he was going to do.

Family photo. From left to right: son Kyle, Tim, daughter Hayli, and daughter Hanna. Photo credit: Honestly Dad Blog.

Living in the “moments”

Instead of embarking on a pilgrimage to find himself, he decided to carve out some time to focus on the things he loved. Spending time with his three children was at the top of his list. Surfing, running and cooking were things he enjoyed as well. For this divorced father of 10 years, having the time to do all these activities with his children was priceless. While he knew he couldn’t regain the time he lost during the early years of their lives, he relished the possibilities of focusing on the present and building future memories with the time he had seized.

Spending more time in the kitchen and around the dinner table with his children quickly became some of Tim’s most precious moments.  His youngest child Hayli, now 12,  developed a love of cooking with her father.  His daughter  Hanna, 19, and son Kyle, 18, always enjoyed the fruits of their culinary labor.

If necessity is the mother of invention, then devotion is the father sacrifice. It was evident to Tim that the bond with his children was strengthening because of his investment into one of the most fleeting assets known to humankind  –  time.

Tim and youngest daughter Hayli enjoy time cooking together. Photo credit: Instagram @honestlydadblog.

A new adventure

About ten months ago, at the suggestion of his brother and his wife who are bloggers, Tim decided to enter the world of blogging.

They believed his lifestyle of being an active, hands on, devoted father who enjoys cooking would be an interesting voice in the blogosphere.

They were right.

Tim in the kitchen. Photo credit: Instagram@honestlydadblog.

His voice, his blog

His blog is called “Honestly Dad.” Tim said he chose this name from the retort his youngest daughter Hayli would often quip when he would tell her what he was concocting in the kitchen.

His recipes are approachable and unfussy. His food photographs make even the most decorated chef drool.   Recipes like his Chicken Marengo, Loaded Breakfast Skillet and Peanut Butter Chocolate Energy Bites are mouth-watering to look at.  When it come to breakfast, lunch, dinner, appetizers and special occasion recipes, he’s got it all covered. In less than a year on the scene, Tim is turning a lot of spatulas and stirring a lot of mixing bowls with his social media presence.  Tim says that the main ingredient of his inspiration is his family.

Tim’s Loaded Breakfast Skillet.Click photo for recipe. Photo credit: Instagram @honestlydadblog.

“I always try to consider my audience in developing my recipe posts. Most have families and don’t have a lot of time to cook meals that take a lot of work,” said Tim. “And when they do cook, they want the recipe to be easy and taste good.”

Tim is a relative neophyte in the world of developing food content. He says he’s still learning and growing. But his authenticity is endearing and refreshing. It is not every day you see a man embrace the virtues of nurturing children and upholding the delicate pillars of family.

In taking a time out, Tim has found his niche.  He’s connected with and caught the eye of many observers.  His Instagram followers have grown exponentially with over 15,000 followers at the time of this post. Companies have started to reach out to him as a product influencer. Its a bold, new world he’s suddenly faced with navigating. He says he’s up to the challenge.

Tim’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Energy Bites. Click photo for recipe. Photo credit: Instagram @honestlydadblog.

What’s next

Tim now works for himself in the field of real estate. He’s happy that he has finally achieved a better work/life balance. His early mornings are dedicated to recipe development, food photography and blogging. But with the entrée of new possibilities that continue to emerge, he wouldn’t mind if his full time passion for food blogging lead to a full time endeavor.

“This has given me the freedom to be creative. And its funny, I never thought of myself as creative,” said a reflective Tim. “I’ve gotten to know a whole new community of bloggers. I’m expanding into other social media platforms, I’m learning so much and I’m even beginning to pay it forward by helping others. It’s been a great experience.”

Tim’s Chicken Marengo. Recipe below. Photo credit: Instagram @honestlydadblog.

A tasty Tim creation

With the change of the season upon us, many of us will turn our palates from salads to comfort food. Tim’s Chicken Marengo recipe is one to add to your fall cooking repertoire.  It’s  easy to make, full of flavor and one of the most requested recipes by his children.  For more recipes, visit his blog at https://www.honestlydad.com.  Make sure to follow him on Instagram at @honestlydadblog.

Chicken Marengo

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

This recipe will quickly become a family favorite.


Ingredients

4 chicken breasts
1 package of Lawry’s Original Style Spaghetti Sauce
½ cup of bread crumbs
¼ cup of olive oil
½ cup of white wine
28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes, Italian style
½ cup of sliced mushrooms
Onion and garlic salt to taste
¼ cup of mozzarella cheese

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together Lawry’s spaghetti sauce and bread crumbs.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet, dip both sides of chicken breasts in the bread crumb mixture and saute both sides of the chicken breasts over medium heat.
  3. Add crushed tomatoes, wine, mushrooms and onion salt and garlic salt to taste.
  4. Cover and cook 45 minutes over low heat turning chicken several times.
  5. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top and serve.

A life, legacy and long overdue tribute recipe

Hot water cornbread may be a classic, rustic, southern accoutrement.  But to me its so much more.

Hot water cornbread embodies transformation.  The gathering of simple, ubiquitous ingredients can be changed or transformed into something satisfying by just investing a little care and time in the mixing process.

A life and legacy of service

Yeah, I went a little deep here, but for good reason. You see hot water cornbread was an absolute favorite of my mentor Brenda Marsh-Mitchell. (Post alert: a sassy hot water corn bread recipe is featured.) In fact when she recommended me to produce and manage the Taste of Soul Cookbook project with Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper owner Danny Bakewell, Sr., she intended to include a recipe of the tasty, pan fried cake she loved so much. But when space became an issue, she decided not to include it. Instead she insisted I include one of my recipes in the cookbook.  That was so gracious and giving of her.

This is the spirit that was embodied in her character and defined her life and . When Brenda passed away on August 3, 2014, Los Angeles lost one of its most beloved angels.

Brenda Marsh-Mitchell. Photo courtesy of Tracy Mitchell.

The wind beneath her wings

For 45 years, “Brenda was the driving force and motivation behind many of the community’s most treasured and sacred events and institutions,” the Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper so rightly stated. She impacted the lives of countless mothers, children, youth, families, seniors and homeless residents by compelling everyone she encountered to invest a little care and time in the community she loved.

For thirty of those years she worked tirelessly, alongside businessman Danny Bakewell, Sr., at the Brotherhood Crusade. There, this inseparable dual lead and championed many social, economic and educational programs that to this day continue to empower and improve the quality of life for the underserved residents in Los Angeles.

It was at  the Brotherhood Crusade where she became the Founding President of Mothers In Action (MIA), a 501C(3) organization formed after the 1992 Los Angeles civil unrest. MIA focused on program services like youth mentoring, financial literacy training, summer internships, life skills training, and food distribution programs for seniors and the homeless.

During the last 15 years of her life,  she served as  the right hand and confidant to Los Angeles Sentinel Executive Publisher Danny Bakewell, Sr. There she executed Bakewell’s vision that included a myriad of social, health and political projects that often resulted from the newspaper’s coverage of issues that had a impact on the community. Elected officials, clergy, celebrities and business leaders all knew that when Brenda called, it was to enlist their assistance in an endeavor to foster harmony, equity and justice.

Taste of Soul Family Festival. Photo credit: Los Angeles Sentinel Taste of Soul Website.

It was at the Los Angeles Sentinel where she implemented Bakewell’s vision of the Taste of Soul Family Festival, the largest festival and gathering of African American Businesses in the Western United States. Under her project management as founding president of the annual festival, it grew into a destination event which now attracts 350,000 attendees.

Her Legacy Continues

Tracy Mitchell, President, Mothers In Action. Photo courtesy of Tracy Mitchell.

Today Tracy Mitchell continues her mother’s work as President of Mothers In Action. She is the youngest of Brenda’s three daughters, all who grew up volunteering and working with their mother since they were small children.

“Brenda’s daily prayer was let me be a blessing to someone else. This was instilled in me at a very early age,” said Tracy. “Continuing her legacy through Mothers In Action was a no brainer because I had developed that passion for giving back to those less fortunate thanks to my mother.

Loyal, dedicated and compassionate are the three attributes Tracy says define the essence of Brenda. While Brenda’s accomplishments and influence became renown from her work with the Brotherhood Crusade and the Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper, she was driven by the many obstacles she fought to overcome from her past.

“I believe Brenda’s career path allowed her to help so many people because she had experienced so much from the challenges of being raised by a single mother, to helping raise her younger siblings when her  mother’s health started to fail, to later being placed in foster care for a period of time,” said Tracy. “She knew about the struggle and was driven to do everything she could to help those with the greatest needs.”

Helping children get back to school

This year Mothers in Action celebrates the 20-year anniversary of their Back to School Health & Family Festival. It takes place on Saturday, August 4, 2018 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., here in Los Angeles at Exposition Park.

Eye exams, immunizations, health screenings and hair cuts are just some of the free services that are offered. Tracy says this annual event was very dear to Brenda’s heart. She worked tirelessly in securing resources and sponsorships because she knew if kids couldn’t see or hear and have basic supplies, it could adversely impact their school year.

The children also get backpacks stocked with school supplies, and they take home food items like fresh fruits and vegetables thanks to their generous sponsors. Mothers in Action will also provide the children new school uniforms and underwear during this year’s event.

“We serve about 1,500 children including the City’s homeless and foster children at the event. Brenda saw a community that didn’t have what they needed and she wanted to be a resource,” said Tracy. “And we know you just can’t serve the children, you have to serve the entire family,” said Tracy adding that the event also provides health screenings, information on job training programs for the adults, and much more.

Brenda Marsh-Mitchell and Tracy Mitchell working together. Photo courtesy of Tracy Mitchell.

What the village needs

Tracy says the greatest need right now is for individuals and business who are willing to invest their time and resources to help Mother’s In Action continue the work her mother started.  Brenda’s dream was to open a “Mothers House,” a place where direct services could be provided like tutoring, computer lab access, financial literacy training and a myriad of other programs and services.

“I remember when I was a young girl in school, I wrote my mother a letter and said I wanted to use all of the experience I was gaining from her and one day give back to our community.  As much as possible, I’ve tried to live my life that way. MIA is a perfect vehicle for me to do that,” Tracy said.

How you can help

If you would like to help Mothers In Action with the upcoming Back to School Health & Family Festival, you can donate by clicking here.  You can also contact the office at (323)290-0456 to find out how you or your business can support their other program initiatives.

Hot water cornbread tribute recipe

And now for that recipe I promised you. Brenda loved hot water corn bread.

While growing up, Tracy says she remembers eating it with most meals. She says when her mother didn’t make it, she would find an individual or restaurant that would.  Tracy believes the love of hot water cornbread has its genesis in Brenda’s Arkansas roots.

As a tribute to Brenda and her graciousness, and to acknowledge the opportunity she afforded me which helped jump started my career as a food journalist, I created this hot water corn bread recipe with her in mind.

It’s classic yet light and tasty. The addition of fresh grilled corn cut from the cob along with fresh chopped thyme leaves elevates the rustic fried cake into something unexpectedly good. Kind of like Brenda used to do, always elevating something and making it unexpectedly good. For this recipe I use red pepper flakes or Chipotle Chile Pepper (sometimes both)  to make it sassy and classy, because Brenda was.

This recipe pairs well with traditional Southern cuisine and just about any meal you enjoy bread with. Slather a little honey butter on the surface and that’s good eating my foodie friends.

Sassy and Savory Hot Water Cornbread

  • Servings: 3 to 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Fresh thyme and grilled corn elevate this classic recipe. The red pepper flakes and Chipotle Chile Pepper makes it a bit sassy.


Ingredients


1 cup yellow corn meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon Chipotle Chile Pepper or red chili flakes (your call here)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
½ cup corn (featured in this recipe fresh grilled, cut from cob)
1 ½ cup boiling water
Oil for frying (canola or grapeseed)

Directions

    1. Pour 1/2 inch of cooking oil in a large skillet set on medium heat.
    2. Whisk together dry ingredients and fresh thyme in a bowl.
    3. Slowly pour in boiling water.
    4. Carefully stir to combine ingredients. Fold in corn.
    5. Once the oil is hot, scoop up batter in a ¼ measuring cup and slowing pour batter in the oil. Gently flatten batter into a round disk. Batter should be enough for  six (6) ¼ cup scoops.
    6. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until brown around the edges, then carefully flip over and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Work in batches of two, adding additional oil if necessary.
    7. Drain the finish hot water cornbread on a plate lined with paper towels. Serve warm.