A few “good for you goals” for 2019

Happy New Year!

So, have you got that list of New Year’s resolutions all teed up and ready to plow through?

Good for you.

I don’t.

Instead, I decided to piggy back on a theme I recently saw on the Good Housekeeping website and from Family Features which focuses less on resolutions, but more on “good for you goals” that can help improve your health.

I really like that. It just takes the pressure off.

The top two “good for your goals” on the Good Housekeeping list are something I can get my head around and achieve with a sense of accomplishment. They are:

Add more citrus to your vegetable cart to keep your skin looking more youthful and healthy.

Eat vegetables more regularly to help you slim down and feel fit.

The list from Family Features has a few more “good for your goals” that can also help you improve your overall health. I think they are worth checking out. After all they are good for you!

5 Recipes that Can Help Improve Your Health

(Family Features) When it comes to nutritious eating, finding and creating tasty yet healthy recipes is key for many people.

One delicious and nutritious ingredient to add to a variety of dishes: U.S.-grown Montmorency tart cherries, which are abundant in anthocyanins – a natural compound that contributes to the ruby-red color, distinctive sweet-tart taste and is also behind the potential health benefits.

Consider these five ways to incorporate Montmorency tart cherries into your daily routine to help with sleep, inflammation, exercise recovery, heart health and gut health. Find more information and recipes at ChooseCherries.com.

  1. Have that good gut-feeling: Gut health has been the focus of multiple studies in recent years to maintain digestive health. In a first-of-its-kind study published in the “Journal of Biochemistry,” Montmorency tart cherries helped positively impact the gut microbiome – a collection of trillions of bacteria and other microbes that live in the intestinal tract. To help shape and maintain your gut health, add an 8-ounce serving of Montmorency tart cherry juice to your daily diet or try blending this Montmorency Tart Cherry Matcha Smoothie.

 

  1. Catch more zzz’s: With more than 50 million adults in the U.S. suffering from sleep or wakefulness disorders, a natural and flavorful remedy may help. One study, published in the “American Journal of Therapeutics,” extended sleep time by 84 minutes after study participants consumed Montmorency tart cherry juice for two weeks. This Tart Cherry Moon Milk is one way to add tart cherry juice before bed.

 

  1. Make workout gains, not pains: Muscle soreness and pain associated after a tough workout is no longer something to dread. A study from “Medicine in Science and Sports Exercise” showed a reduction in muscle damage after intensive strength training from participants who consumed Montmorency tart cherry juice in comparison to a placebo. Whip up some Tart Cherry Power Gummies for a snack to power up before or after workouts.

 

  1. Help ease arthritis and gout: Many Americans seek natural ways to help manage pain that don’t evoke potential side effects. Research indicates that U.S.-grown Montmorency tart cherries, like those found in this Tart Cherry Granola Smoothie Bowl, may help naturally reduce inflammation related to arthritis and gout.

 

  1. Keep your heart on beat: Adding more fruits packed with heart-healthy compounds is a great way to help your heart keep beating at its best. Montmorency tart cherries are a natural heart-healthy fruit that may lower blood pressure, reduce risk of stroke and decrease cholesterol levels. Incorporate them in a lunch like this Kale Quinoa Montmorency Tart Cherry Salad.

SOURCE:
Cherry Marketing Institute

It’s beginning to taste a lot like Christmas

Mini Morsel Toll House Pound Cake dusted with confectioners’ sugar

Now that flour is flying through the air in my kitchen and butter is getting seriously creamed, I am in full holiday baking mode.

You know from my blog and other social media accounts, most of what I post are entrees, side dishes and everyday food (Instagram @collardgreenscaviar).

Desserts are not my mainstay, but I have to admit I have a repertoire of confectionery offerings that I’ve mastered.

During Christmas is when I roll them out and bask in baker’s joy.

Yes, I can be a bit of a baker. It’s part of my Southern roots. I’ve had years of experience, nearly 40 to be honest.

This Pecan Tart has always been a part of my dessert gift repertoire.

When I was a young woman who was high on energy and low on cash, I baked all of my Christmas gifts for my family. I’d packed the baked goodies in decorated hat boxes because back then Broadway Department Store (now known as Macy’s) would give them away for free. And free fit my budget just fine.

What were some of the desserts that where piled into those coveted hat boxes? An array of my favorites: Lemon 7up Pound Cake, Mini Morsel Pound Cake, Almond Cookies with powdered sugar, Pecan Tart (thanks to Martha Stewart pie of the month calendar I got as gift in 1980), Deep Dish Sweet Potato Pie, Hello Dolly Bars, and sometimes Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies dipped in dark chocolate.

Plated Christmas delights I’ve been making for nearly 40 years.

When I finally got a real job that afforded me some “disposable income,” I flipped my skirt tail with joy. Now I could finally afford to buy my family proper Christmas gifts. But oh no, they wouldn’t have it. All they wanted was that hat box of goodies.

2017 Plated delights all dressed up and ready to deliver.

So to this very day, the tradition continues. Oh I’ve upped my game a bit. No longer do I pack the annual delights in a hat box.  I don’t think they exist anymore. Instead each year I buy a series of  various dinner plates (which is part of the gift) and pile the goodies onto them. I wrap them in cellophane and finish with a holiday bow.

One of my favorite recipes in the box or on the plate is the Mini Morsel Toll House Pound Cake. Back in the day, the recipe was featured on the back of the Mini Toll House Chocolate Chips bag.  Today, it’s no longer there. In fact, it’s not even on their website anymore.

Why do I love this cake so much? It’s moist, rich and not airy or fluffy. It is a substantial cake, one that is perfect with your morning cup of coffee, and the ying to your yang when you top it with ice cream (I prefer butter pecan).

Mini Morsel Toll House Pound Cake without powered sugar.

Sometimes I dust it with powdered sugar, and sometimes I don’t. But no matter how I finish it, it’s always a treat that makes me smack my lips.

I want to  wish you all a beautiful holiday season,  and also encourage you to think about adding this classic old school recipe to your holiday baking list. Now, get baking!

*Cook’s note: Know your oven. I have had to make adjustments in the temperature and baking times over the years based on my oven. For the past 15 years, I have had two electric ovens. I’ve learned that when using my oven, the baking time is the same, but the temperature was adjusted down to 325 degrees Fahrenheit for the older oven. Now it is adjusted to 300 degrees Fahrenheit for the new oven I purchased two years ago. I would suggest if you have a gas oven, that you set it at 325 degrees Fahrenheit and bake it for 70 minutes, then insert a tooth pick to see if comes clean (I use a wooden skewer) and adjust cooking time from there. This will help prevent over browning.

Mini Morsel Toll House Pound Cake

  • Servings: 12 to 16
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Print

This moist and delicious pound cake will be a must have at your next holiday gathering.


Ingredients


1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs
3⁄4 cup evaporated milk
1 bag of mini morsel chocolate chips
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to *350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease and flour a 10 inch tube/Bundt pan (I use a non-stick flour cooking spray).
  3. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl beat the sugar and butter with mixer (I used an electric hand mixer) until creamy, then add the vanilla.
  5. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until each one is incorporated.
  6. Gradually mix in the flour mixture, alternating with milk. Then mix batter (about 1 minute) with mixer.
  7. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  8. Pour batter into grease and floured pan. (Note: the batter will be thick)
  9. Bake 70-80 minute or until toothpick, when inserted, comes out clean.
  10. Cool 10 minutes, loosen sides and invert onto cake plate, cover with lid until cake is room temperature.
    (this will make for a moist cake). When there is no more moisture on top of cake, dust it with the confectioner sugar.

 

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.