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Watermelon with Feta? July 15, 2011

Filed under: Side Dishes - you Lovely Dishes — celebrationgoddess @ 6:14 pm

FOODIE FRIDAY – (enjoy a
new recipe to try this weekend!)

I’m cutting up a watermelon to bring for a party tomorrow and thought hmmmm how am I gonna give it a goddess twist? Vodka? Marrying it to other fruit? Watermelon meet blueberry – I now pronounce you man and wife. 

How about an interesting salad?

Summer Watermelon Salad

  • 3/4 cup halved, thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 quarts seeded, cubed watermelon
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup pitted black olive halves
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
Directions Place the onion slices in a small bowl with the lime juice. The acid of the lime will mellow the flavor of the raw onion. Let stand for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the watermelon cubes, feta cheese, black olives, onions with the lime juice, and mint. Drizzle olive oil over it all, and toss to blend. Dig in and be prepared for a pleasant surprise!

Laugh, learn and liven up your taste buds!



Who doesn’t like to pea? April 10, 2011

Filed under: Side Dishes - you Lovely Dishes,Uncategorized — celebrationgoddess @ 10:08 pm

SUNDAY’s Sampler Platter – (imagine that).

To pea or not to pea that is the question. And here in McHenry, it’s time to pea!

It was in the 80’s today. So being the happy gardener that I am, I decided to put in some peas. Peas are well-suited to cooler temperate climates. In fact, when temperatures exceed 20C (70F), most varieties of peas will stop producing pods. While in Salisbury England, I had mushy peas served with fish and chips. It was incredibly delicious and not something I would have guessed would be served with the fried fish and potatoes. But wow! It was bloody good!

I’ll even share my Stonehenge story with you. We booked a guided trip to see Stonehenge. But unfortunately the bus never showed. We waited and waited and waited and waited. Did I mention we waited? So after an eternity, my traveling companion said Bethsheba, we must go find our own way to Stonehenge or we will never see it. So off we whirled to find a bus to take us to Salibury plain! Our bus arrived and you would be amazed to know that it’s out in the middle of nowhere. No town, no trees, nothing. An awe inspiring side. Having been to other tourist sites around the world, you’d typically see most in the middle of a town.

There is a giant path leading around Stonehenge because you are not allowed to touch the stones anymore. That was a great big disappointment to me. But alas I still got to see one of the wonders of the world…

Now get out there and plant your peas:

Peas are part of the legume (Latin Leguminosae) family of vegetables, which extract nitrogen from the air and store it in little nodules along their roots. For this reason, when the plants finish cropping, dig the roots directly into the soil, where they will slowly decompose and release nitrogen for other plants to use.

Peas are a prime example of the difference between shop purchased vegetables and those fresh from the garden. Fresh peas win every time, on taste, texture and food value, and that includes frozen peas!  

Where To Grow Peas
Peas will grow on most soils, although they prefer a medium well-dug soil with plenty of organic material. Do not add nitrogen to the soil before planting (or after) – peas extract nitrogen from the air sufficient for the needs. An over-rich soil will cause lots of leafy growth, but a reduced cop of peas. Peas like moisture, so do not plant too near walls or fences.

A sunny area is best, although peas are tolerant of partial shade, especially if the shade occurs during the hottest part of the day. Maincrop peas are tall leggy plants (6 ft), and they can easily be damaged if planted in areas exposed to high wind.

Remember that the taller varieties will cast quite a shadow over any other crops nearby. A good plan is to use the space around the pea plants for smaller shade-tolerant plants vegetables – radishes are an excellent choice.  

When To Sow Peas
By sowing a couple of varieties over a month or so, the cropping can be extended from mid-June to mid-September. The table below shows when to sow each type and when they will crop. Specific varieties are recommended later – use the menu on the top left of this page (‘pea varieties’) if you want to go there now.  

Type Sow Harvest  Sow to Harvest
First Early March to June June to September 12 weeks
Second Early March to June June to October 14 weeks
Maincrop March to June July to October 15 weeks

Mushy Peas 


  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen green peas
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Bring a shallow pot of lightly salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add frozen peas, and cook for 3 minutes, or until tender.  Drain peas, and transfer to a blender or large food processor. Add cream, butter, salt and pepper to peas, and process until blended, but still thick with small pieces of peas. Adjust seasonings to taste, and serve immediately.

Laugh, learn and liven up your taste buds!


Garlicy and Fluffy November 19, 2010

Filed under: Side Dishes - you Lovely Dishes — celebrationgoddess @ 7:30 am

FOODIE FRIDAY – (enjoy a new recipe to try this weekend!)

Isn’t this the year to master the fluffiest, best-ever mashed potatoes? “How to Cook a Turkey,” from the editors and contributors of Fine Cooking magazine, offers this advice for fluffy mashed potatoes.  It involves two basic truths.

1. Russets are the best choice for mashed potatoes because of their high starch content.

2. Using a ricer creates the most luxurious, airy texture.

Start the potatoes in cold water and bring them to a simmer. This allows them to cook evenly.

Simmer them gently. If they boil violently, they’ll fall apart.

Test for doneness with a metal skewer.

Drain thoroughly, shaking to rid the potatoes of excess water. Return them to the pot over low heat and stir to dry them fully.

If you don’t use a ricer, you can use a potato masher or food mill.

Never uses a food processor as that will overwork them and produce a gluey texture.

When adding milk or cream to mashed potatoes, heat milk just to the simmer, but do not boil.

Butter, cream cheese, or cheese should be at room temperature before adding to mashed potatoes.

You can make potatoes ahead of time and gently reheat them over low heat, either in a double boiler or very carefully in a microwave. You may need to stir in a little more liquid to loosen the consistency.



5 pounds potatoes
1/2 cup butter
2 cups Parmesan cheese
1 cup chopped fresh chives
1 1/2 cups cream cheese
1/2 medium head garlic, peeled and minced
1 pinch salt and pepper to taste


Add potatoes to a pan of cold water.  Cook until tender but still firm. Drain and return to stove over low heat to dry for 1 to 2 minutes. Add butter, Parmesan cheese, chives, cream cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper. Use a ricer if you have it or a potato masher to mash until smooth, and serve.

Now show us how to be a piggy!!! What “extras” do you like to put in your taters?

Laugh, learn and liven up your taste buds!



Stuffing with olives? Ohhhh yeah November 12, 2010

Filed under: Side Dishes - you Lovely Dishes — celebrationgoddess @ 4:56 am

FOODIE FRIDAY – (enjoy a new recipe to try this weekend!)

The best stuffing I’ve ever had was one from a Mexican girlfriend of mine. It included olives, raisins and pork and my husband and I fought over eating it. Here is a recipe in homage to that delicious memory!Savory Stuffing Recipe


  • 1 loaf of day old French bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 10-12 cups)
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 cups each, chopped onion and celery
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1 green apple, peeled, cored, chopped
  • 3/4 cup of currants or raisins
  • Several (5 to 10) chopped green olives (martini olives, the ones with the pimento)
  • Stock from the turkey giblets (1 cup to 2 cups) (can substitute chicken stock)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning or ground sage (to taste)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)


1 If you haven’t already made the stock, take the turkey giblets – heart and gizzard – and neck if you want, and put them in a small saucepan, cover with water and add a little salt. Bring to a simmer; simmer for about an hour, uncovered. Strain the stock into a container for use with the stuffing. Alternatively, you can use chicken stock or just plain water with this recipe.

2 Toast the walnuts by heating them in a frying pan on medium high heat for a few minutes, stirring until they are slightly browned (not burned) OR put them in the microwave on high until you can smell the aroma of them toasting, about a minute or two. Let them cool while you are toasting the bread, then roughly chop them.

3 Heat a large sauté pan on medium heat. Melt 3 Tbsp butter in the pan, add the bread cubes, and stir to coat the bread pieces with the melted butter. Then let them toast; only turn them when they have become a little browned on a side. Note, if you aren’t working with somewhat dried-out day-old bread, lay the cubes of bread in a baking pan and put them in a hot oven for 10 minutes to dry them out first, before toasting them in butter on the stove top. The bread should be a little dry to begin with, or you’ll end up with mushy stuffing.

4 In a large Dutch oven, sauté chopped onions and celery on medium high heat with the remaining 3 Tbsp butter until cooked through, about 5-10 minutes. Add the bread. Add cooked chopped walnuts. Add chopped green apple, currants, raisins, olives, parsley. Add one cup of the stock from cooking the turkey giblets or chicken stock (enough to keep the stuffing moist while you are cooking it). Add sage, poultry seasoning, salt & pepper.

5 Cover. Turn heat to low. Cook for an hour or until the apples are cooked through. Check every ten minutes or so and add water or stock as needed while cooking to keep the stuffing moist and keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Serves 8-10.

Laugh, learn and liven up your taste buds!



BRAIN FOOD September 3, 2010

FOODIE FRIDAY – (enjoy a new recipe to try this weekend!)

BRAIN FOODS – Pamela Harding

The old maxim “You are what you eat,” turns out to be true. New research on so-called “brain foods” shows that some chemicals in the foods we eat go right to our brain cells. Sounds pretty powerful.

But can food really make us more intelligent, give us smarter kids, improve memory, help us think more clearly, and maybe even forestall those so-called “senior moments,” or worse, dementia?

The answer is a qualified “yes.” Although no one “miracle” food is going to boost your brain power instantly, make your kid a genius, or cure Alzheimer’s, regularly adding certain foods to your diet will help you function at your personal best, both physically and mentally, throughout your lifetime.


Berries are full of memory-boosting nutrients. Here’s how they work: When we talk about getting “rusty” at certain tasks, we may not be far off. Oxidation, the process that causes metal to rust, can also damage brain cells. This oxidative stress as it’s called, plays a part in many diseases associated with aging from dementia and Alzheimer’s to Parkinson’s.

Getting beneficial anti-oxidative compounds like vitamins C, E, beta-carotene and other nutrients through food may help prevent, or at least curtail, the damage, because they can disarm potentially cell-injuring free radicals circulating throughout the system.

Research has shown that beneficial chemicals called ellagatannis in raspberries, strawberries and blueberries are also found right in the hippocampus, the brain’s memory control center. Talk about a direct hit!

Blueberries also contain proanthocyanins, which gravitate toward the striatum, which is more closely related to spatial memory. Scientists believe that that these compounds may enhance the performance of those parts of the brain, and indeed, actual animal studies have substantiated the evidence that they do improve memory.


Oxidation is not the only process associated with diseases of aging. Inflammation also plays a big role in everything from heart disease to dementia.

Cherries are nature’s own little anti-inflammatory pills. They contain Cox 2 inhibitors similar to those found in pain medications such as Vioxx and Celebrex, but they also contain compounds called polyphenols that keep platelets in the blood from clumping together, so they don’t produce undesirable side effects— like heart attacks and strokes—which are risks associated with the manufactured drugs. Isn’t Mother Nature clever?


That old adage about “an apple a day” is right on target. Turns out that apples contain a group of chemicals that could protect the brain from the type of damage that triggers neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. One of those compounds, a flavonoid called quercetin, has been shown to protect the brain from oxidative injury in animal studies.

Other chemicals such as phenolic acids and different flavonoids protect the apple itself against damage by bacteria, viruses and fungi—and if they protect the fruit, just imagine what they can do for us! Studies suggest that eating apples not only may help reduce the risk of cancer, but diminish the risk of neurodegenerative disorders too.


Turmeric, the yellow spice found in many curries, contains curcumin, which also has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It may even prove useful in treating Alzheimer’s; one study showed a reduction in beta amyloid deposits, the plaques associated with the disease, in the brains of animals fed curcumin-enhanced food. In another study, elderly people who ate curry often or very often did better on tests of mental performance than those who never or rarely ate curry.


The egg has gotten bad press because of its cholesterol-rich yoke and the associations between dietary cholesterol and heart disease. However, that same yolk contains one of the most important nutrients for building better brains: choline.

Getting adequate amounts of choline, especially early in life—during fetal development and early childhood—may help us learn more readily and also help us retain what we learn. What’s more, sufficient choline intake early on may give us the mental building blocks we need to help keep memory intact as we age.


We’ve all heard that fish is “brain food,” and there’s good reason for it. Fatty fish like budget-friendly sardines contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to be instrumental in maintaining brain function from early development throughout life. DHA, an omega-3, is present right in the brain, so having those good-for-you omega-3s in your diet is thought to boost brain function.

In addition, components of fatty acids in fish go straight to the synapses of nerve cells, so they play an important role in how neurons communicate with one another, which may have a positive affect throughout life on learning and memory.


Speaking of seafood as brain food, consider the oyster, which is one food rich in both iron and zinc. If your mind wanders or you have memory lapses here and there, you may need more of the minerals zinc and iron in your diet.

A lot of research has linked decreased iron and zinc levels with poorer mental performance in children, but newer studies on adults suggest these elements help keep grown-ups’ minds sharp as well. In those studies, marginally low iron reserves reduced adults’ ability to concentrate, and lower levels of zinc slowed test participants’ ability to recall words.


When it’s time for a treat, chocolate is not a bad way to go, for your brain as well as your taste buds. Several studies have shown that eating flavonol-rich cocoa can improve blood vessel function, boosting circulation throughout the body and blood flow to the brain. The beneficial compounds found in cocoa may even reduce the formation of damaging clots, which may cause heart attacks and strokes.

However, while cocoa, the ingredient that carries “chocolate” flavor, is rich in beneficial compounds, it’s often combined with high-fat ingredients in chocolate bars and other desserts, so it’s best to keep chocolate treats to a healthy minimum.

Here we are the day after Easter and if you’re like me then you probably have quite a few hard boiled eggs in your fridge. You could snack on them as is with a little salt and pepper or make some egg salad or some traditional deviled eggs. But if you are looking for something different with a whole lotta flavor then have a go with these curried deviled eggs.


6 hard boiled eggs

  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 3/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 green onion, green part only, diced
  1. Slice the eggs in half lengthwise and remove the yolk.
  2. In a bowl combine yolks, mayonnaise, curry powder and turmeric. Mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Spoon filling into the eggs or place filling in a plastic bag and pipe it into the eggs.

Laugh, learn and liven up your taste buds!



You have luscious peaches my dear August 20, 2010

Filed under: Side Dishes - you Lovely Dishes — celebrationgoddess @ 4:31 am

FOODIE FRIDAY – (enjoy a new recipe to try this weekend!)

4 servings

fruit salad:
2 peaches
2 pears
1 small cucumber
100 ml/ 0,42 cup cooked bulgur
10 walnuts halves
zest from 1 lime chopped finely or cut into thin, thin strips

50 ml/ 0,21 cup rum
50 ml/ 0,21 cup water
100 g/ 3,5 oz sugar
1 pinch of vanilla powder (ground vanilla pods) or 1-2 tsp vanilla extract

– Start with the syrup: put the ingredients in a small pan and let it simmer until it has thickened into a syrup. Leave to cool.
– Cut the fruit into pieces, if the skins are thick peel them off, otherwise keep them as it adds a bit of colour.
– Peel the cucumber and dice it finely. Chop or crush the walnuts.
– Put fruit, cucumber and walnuts in a bowl, add as much of the syrup you want, the lime zest and stir. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes.
– Add the bulgur and serve.

Laugh, learn and liven up your taste buds!



Babaloo!!! How about some plantains and bongo music? April 19, 2010

Filed under: Side Dishes - you Lovely Dishes — celebrationgoddess @ 2:31 am

When I asked what I should bring to the birthday party on Saturday, my brother in law teased that he wanted plantains.  Plantains? I LOVE plantains! So I think I’ll teach ya’ll about plantains. You can slice and fry them in oil like potato chips, slice them and sauté them in butter and brown sugar, or make them like mashed potaters.

What is a Plantain?

Plantains are a member of the banana family. They are a starchy, low in sugar variety that is cooked before serving as it is unsuitable raw. It is used in many savory dishes somewhat like a potato would be used and is very popular in Western Africa and the Caribbean countries. It is usually fried or baked.

Plantains are native to India and are grown most widely in tropical climates. Plantains are sometimes referred to as the pasta and potatoes of the Caribbean. Sold in the fresh produce section of the supermarket, they usually resemble green bananas but ripe plantains may be black in color. This vegetable-banana can be eaten and tastes different at every stage of development. The interior color of the fruit will remain creamy, yellowish or lightly pink. When the peel is green to yellow, the flavor of the flesh is bland and its texture is starchy. As the peel changes to brown or black, it has a sweeter flavor and more of a banana aroma, but still keeps a firm shape when cooked.

Plantains grow best in areas with constant warm temperatures and protection from strong winds. They have been grown in scattered locations throughout Florida since the 16th century. Because of the occasional freezes, Florida is considered a marginal area for plantain production. They are available year round in the supermarket.

Cuban Fufu is a sweet plantain stuffing mashed with bacon and onion. I got to try it when vacationing in Cancun.


  • 4 sweet plantains (peeled and cut into uniform pieces)
  • 1/4 pound of bacon (cut into small pieces)
  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (finely chopped)


1. In a saucepan, cover plantains with lightly salted, cold water and bring to a boil.

2. Cook until plantains are soft (about 10 minutes).

3. Drain and mash the plantains. Set aside.

4. In a frying pan, sauté the bacon until brown. Add the diced onion and chopped garlic. Continue sautéing for about 5 minutes.

5. Remove the frying pan from the heat and drain excess bacon drippings. Leave about 2 tablespoons of grease in the pan.

6. Gently fold in mashed plantains until thoroughly mixed. Transfer to a dish, cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

Serves: 8 people

Laugh, learn and liven up your taste buds – BABALOOOOO!!!!




Squishy Baby Cheeks April 17, 2010

Filed under: Side Dishes - you Lovely Dishes — celebrationgoddess @ 11:54 am

I’m going my grand nephew’s first birthday today. I’d love to squish his fat little cheeks but no touching! With my icky cough, I’d better not. Here’s the recipe for Lemon Basil Pasta I’m bringing. Never made it before but it sounds springy!


  • 1 pound farfalle pasta
  • 4 plum tomatoes, cut into 1 inch dice
  • 3/4 cup peas
  • 8 basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish


Fill a large pot 3/4 of the way with water and place over high heat. Add plenty of salt and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente. Remove the pasta and rinse under cold water to cool down. Cook the peas in the pasta water for 5 minutes and then drain.

Put the pasta in a large serving bowl and add the tomatoes, peas basil, 2 teaspoons, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Toss well and garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Laugh, learn and liven up your taste buds!