Caprese salad is always a favorite … thick slices of juicy tomatoes, hunks of creamy mozzarella and fresh basil leaves drizzled with olive oil on a platter or in stacks. I thought this would make a colorful addition to a family diner in lieu of the usual green salad so scaled down the ingredients to miniature size and added some fresh herbs planted by the Grands. Next time, I’ll double the recipe for leftovers as it was quickly gobbled up!
Variations: You could skip the added herbs and keep it classic with just the basil, and also try different flavored olive oils. A drizzle of balsamic vinegar across the top would make for a nice presentation and burst of flavor (my daughter is not a fan, so we didn’t add to ours).
There is something soothing about sitting down to comfort food during these tough times, plus they are also inexpensive and easy to make. Turkey is a healthy alternative to beef, but tends to be drier so the pasta sauce gives needed moisture without being greasy.
I used to stuff my peppers by cutting off the top with the stem but have found that by slicing them lengthwise the meat mixture heats quicker which allows the peppers to remain firm instead of getting mushy. (Plus they don’t tip over in the pan and are also easier to cut and eat.)
These make a nice, low-carb meal with added hidden veggies and a side salad rounds it out nicely. Bell peppers are high in vitamin C, with a single one providing over 150% of the recommended daily intake. They also provide vitamin K1, E and A, and folate and potassium.
Variations: You can use whatever color bell peppers you like or be really creative and mix it up with red, orange, yellow and green for a pretty presentation! You can also use red tomatoes instead of the yellow that I used (it’s what I had on hand), kale instead of spinach (which I absolutely detest!), different types of shredded cheese and different flavors of pasta sauce. You could also use straight up tomato sauce but would need to add some herbs to make it more flavorful.
During this pandemic, I have the privilege and pleasure of homeschooling my Grands two to three days a week so my daughter can do her job as a behavioral therapist for special needs children, an essential service so the children don’t fall behind with their development.
In addition to school work and online meetings, I try to come up with creative and fun hands-on activities and cooking is something that both Grandsons enjoy. Measuring and mixing are great for math and organizational skills and I’m attempting to expand their palates as well.
This recipe was simple enough that my almost-eight-year-old Grandson could do it all by himself with just my supervision! Although he thought the can of cream of celery soup looked like “slime” and the mixture was “gross,” he loved it when he tasted the finished product.
I treasure my memories of cooking with my Nana and know that although the virus has been a tough time to live through, this will also be remembered as a time when family was truly put above all else and we created some great meals together.
This is my husband’s favorite meal and is packed with rich flavors in every scrumptious bite. It is NOT a quick and easy recipe and I won’t be preparing it when we are underway on long passages. It’s for special occasions and fills the cabin with an amazing scent for hours as it simmers.
I made this on a Thursday during the Pandemic. The special occasion? Because Aaron gets up early every day to go to a job in a very scary time to support our family. My job is to help care for our Grands so my daughter can work, keep our home clean and tidy, and feed him. Because I now shop only once a week and we have a teeny fridge and no freezer, I’ve been sticking with simple proteins and veggies. But once a week, I plan something special to show him my appreciation and love … and he eats up both! 🙂 Bonus is that Tiki gets the beef bones!
The key to this recipe is to start early and simmer for hours, allow another few hours to sit covered, then put in the oven for the final hour. No knives are needed when it has been cooked all day … it is falling off the bone and fork tender. It truly is OHMYGOD delish!
Homemade horseradish sauce is so easy that we haven’t had store-bought since I discovered how to make it myself a few years ago. It literally takes minutes and can be enhanced with flavored vinegar and salt, kept traditional, or made creamy and the sharp flavor down-played by adding sour cream.
One five-inch piece makes about three cups of traditional horseradish sauce. It can be stored in a glass jar with a tight lid in the fridge for many months and does taste stronger the longer it sits. When mixed with sour cream, it should be used within a week, so just take out a few tablespoons at a time for the creamy version and store the remainder.
Top with finely chopped chives for a nice presentation.
Why squid ink pasta? Well, because I bought all the other ingredients for this recipe and forgot the pasta and just happened to have this in my pantry. The bold black color seemed odd when I was cooking it, but actually made for a dramatic presentation. Most often used in seafood dishes, squid ink pasta does have a distinct flavor of sea salt not found in other pasta. I didn’t add any salt to the recipe and it came out absolutely delish!
Hubby loves pasta and we most often feature an Alfredo sauce or he makes his famous red sauce. I wanted to try something different and found turkey tenderloins on sale so did a bit of recipe research and then developed this one with my own twists. It’s rich and creamy comfort food and the celery adds a nice little crunch. It can be prepped and assembled in advance and then popped in the oven 35 minutes before you are ready to serve.
Winter is all about the soups for me. I love filling my floating home with the scents and warmth of long-simmering yumminess. While my husband will never-ever give up beef, I could probably be a pescatarian. Most likely, when we are cruising we’ll probably rely mostly on fresh seafood, fruits and veggies, so I’ll be a happy camper.
Lentils are dried and easy to store. They and chick peas are a great source of protein, making them a great meat alternative. They are also full of iron, which is sometimes lacking in vegetarian diets. Other vitamins include B, magnesium, zinc and potassium, as well as containing fiber.
Mmmmmmm! If you love asparagus, this is a quick, easy and creamy soup that presents beautifully. Serve with a crusty loaf of bread to sop up all the goodness! It is very rich and makes a filling main course, or serve with a salad or lighter protein such as grilled or poached fish to round out the meal.
Asparagus is a good source for vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as fiber and folate. It also contains chromium, a trace mineral that assists in getting glucose into your cells, which is important if you are diabetic or monitoring blood sugar. It is also believed to be good for brain health and fighting cancer.
Fun fact about the stinky urine caused by eating asparagus, according to Smithsonian magazine: Asparagus is the only food to contain the chemical asparagusic acid. When this aptly named chemical is digested, it breaks down into sulfur-containing compounds, which have a strong, unpleasant scent, and are released in the urine. They are also volatile, which means that they can vaporize and enter the air and your nose. Asparaguisic acid is not volatile, so asparagus itself doesn’t smell. There are no harmful effects to eating asparagus or the scent. (So now you know!)
Variations: Change the color but not the taste! American and British asparagus is green, but you can also find it in purple (French) and white (Spanish and Dutch). It can be made vegetarian by using vegetable instead of chicken stock, and vegan by using dairy-free butter or olive oil, and blending equal parts soy, rice or oat milk and coconut cream instead of half and half.
Result: Amazingness! Consensus around the table was that it was the most moist and flavorful bird any of us have ever had.
I believe the secret to the deliciousness is to use similar spices in the brining and cooking to layer the flavor profile. You can use this recipe whether you are smoking as we did or cooking your bird in the oven.