I could do all sorts of things to potatoes. There is no way that the potato can be prepared that I would dislike. If I had to pick one vegetable that I couldn’t live without, it would be the…(you guessed it). These days, as I’m trying to watch my weight because summer is just around the corner (and no that’s not the only reason one should be conscientious when it comes to eating and eating healthy) *smiles* , I’ve decided to find healthier ways to use my potatoes. This recipe is simple and it calls for baking these potatoes as opposed to the conventionally frying. They were very tasty and near guiltless.
Now I must say that for most of the English speaking Caribbean, when we islanders say rice and peas it means rice and peas OR beans. I have never heard “rice and beans” said of a rice dish that contained red kidney beans. Which is exactly what this dish is: rice and red kidney beans. Saying rice and peas is so much easier. It just kinda rolls off one’s tongue. I know you mightn’t see it that way but I do *giggles* Over the years, I’ve eaten my fair share of rice and peas (which includes rice & lentil peas, rice & pigeon peas and rice & kidney beans). Over and over and over again. Rice is a huge part of Caribbean cuisine. Almost all meals are served with rice. Curry? Rice. Stew Beef? Rice. Jerk Chicken? Rice. To be honest, when I make chili, I make rice to go with it. I’ve done the cornbread thing but man nothing like some rice and chili. Do not scoff. Today, I’m sharing with you this rice and peas (beans) recipe. I hope you try it and like it.
As much as classic recipes are good and fun, one ingredient addition can take things to a whole different level. Years ago, if you gave me a BLT Sandwich, I would be the happiest person ever but one day I tried it with avocado and have never looked back. Every time I make a BLT Sandwich I add avocado to the mix. BALT sandwiches are so delicious. Remember THIS ONE? It was so scrumptious. Recently, I was craving a BALT sandwich but had no bread on hand. I wasn’t upset because the less carbs, the better. No? I went ahead and made this salad. Can someone say YUM?! It’d be the perfect the perfect accompaniment to steak or even chicken. I found it just great on its own.
When I made this lovely cornbread, I was craving Chili (which luckily for me I had a container in the freezer) so I heated that up and decided to whip up a simple cornbread. Alas, there was no cornmeal but there were boxes of Jiffy corn muffin mix in the pantry so I decided to spruce things up by doctoring up the mix to make this lovely cheddar and peppers cornbread. Between this and my Go Hard Or Go Home Chili, I was in heaven on earth!
Every Christmas (yes, I’m still talking about Christmas (in January of 2012) *grins*), Caribbean nationals usually have a pot of stewed pigeon peas on the stove. That, usually, is my second favorite thing to eat on Christmas day (the first, being “salt ham” ). We (my family), for a few years, used to have a plot of land with pigeon peas planted and every December, I would either have to help pick the peas (off the trees) or shell the peas or even do both. Man, it was not easy work. But on Christmas Day at lunch time when I got a large portion of stewed peas, all the stings from the trees (and insects therein) and all the pain my thumb and index fingers endured (having turned the color of the peas too for shelling soooo many), faded away. It would always be worth it. Unfortunately, I’m now in the great big U.S of A. and fresh pigeon peas? Well I wouldn’t even know where to look. So I have to resort to canned pigeon peas which does not taste as great as fresh ones but when the spirit of Christmas overtakes you, man, you’ll eat whatever you can get just to sustain tradition!
Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot of black eyed peas recipes popping up and the introduction to these recipes usually spoke of them being a New Year’s Eve tradition associated with good luck and prosperity, I suppose within the coming year. Now from what I understand, what you eat on that first day of the new year is very detrimental to how the rest of one’s year will turn out so black eyed peas accompanied by some part of a hog (usually ham) symbolizes good things. Hmmmm. I wonder if me eating this 4 days into the New Year would change much of anything? Because, although I’ve love black eyed peas from since I was a child, I just wasn’t up to eating it on New Year’s Day. I eventually got around to it but let’s hope it wasn’t too late for its “magic charms” to work. I’ll tell you how my year went on December 31st.
Cornbread is a staple in our house mainly because my PIC loves it but sometimes making the same old looking cornbread gets a little monotonous for me. Sometimes, I’m just forced to switch things up. That’s where these lovely corn muffins come into play. They are easy to handle (no cutting/slicing) and they’re cute. Wouldn’t you just want to sit and eat like 4 of these babies in one sitting? What I like best is that they’re sweetened with honey, which gives a different flavor than sugar (delicate with floral tones) Yum. These muffins are truly addictive and I think they would make the perfect accompaniment to some fiery chili or some good ole BBQ!
Beans are always in this house. Always. Among my favorite type of beans are black beans. They, like many other type of beans, are cheap, healthy, and absolutely filling. These beans right here are slow-cooked, and do require some time but thanks to the recipe’s layers of flavor which start with a base of simmered onions, ham hock, garlic and bell pepper, it’s totally worth the time put into it. It really is a one-pot wonder and is so very fantastically tasty! I’ve been known to eat them with just white rice and call it a meal but they make a fitting side to almost any meat, especially seafood and grilled chicken. They are a greaaatttt thing. Oh and just incase you’re wondering why in the heck I’m not posting any Christmas-like dishes….well those come AFTER the holiday once I’ve made them for/on the big C day!
Does anyone remember the speech I gave about macaroni pie in my Baked Mac and Cheese post. If you don’t, here’s a quick recap. Americans say Baked Mac and Cheese and people from the Caribbean say Macaroni Pie. The end. I made some macaroni pie. My way. And guess what? Out of everything else on his plate, the American ate allllll of his macaroni pie. HA! So I guess my macaroni pie is here to stay. Now for those who are wondering what’s the difference, well a macaroni pie (do not scoff at the name), is basically a dressed up baked mac and cheese. The one I’m sharing today is very simple and delicious and probably isn’t as scary as the name may sound to you.
I love avocados. I know, I know, I love a whole lot of things but it just happens to be so. I can and will eat avocados with almost anything. Peleau, curry chicken, stewed chicken, fried fish. Name it and I have probably already eaten avocado with it. When I go out to restaurants the toss up for appetizers is usually between guacamole, calamari and buffalo wings. All classics. All delicious. While I have made buffalo wings at home on numerous occasions, I have never attempted calamari nor guacamole. Calamari, I’ll save for another day because today I give you this amazingly delicious and easy guacamole.
I LOVE when my Mother-In-Law (who I affectionately call Mom) makes Sweet Potato Casserole. I remember the first time I “put in my order” for it. I was like “You have to make sweet potato casserole for me pleassseeee!” because she is the first (and only) true Southern cook I know personally *waves to Paula Deen, who is somewhere out there*. So, whenever I’m in Georgia, I want real home cooked Down-South food. I first tasted sweet potato casserole when I was in college. Around Thanksgiving, the dining hall would have a pre-Thanksgiving dinner and I would never miss it. Mashed potatoes, turkey, stuffing, beans and sweet potato casserole. Sweet potato casserole as a side dish, not a dessert. It was there I fell in love with it. After I left college I never had sweet potato casserole again. At least not for many years. Then in 2009, I attempted to make it using Bruce Yams *long sigh*. That ended up in the trash. “Yams?”, you say. Well, I didn’t know the difference. In 2010, I decided to go the simple route and just make mashed (real) sweet potatoes (not yams) *another long sigh* Garbage again! So in 2011, in the heart of a Georgian kitchen, do you think I’m going to pass up the opportunity to beg my MIL to pity my soul and make some sweet potato casserole? Ha! You must not know me, if you said yes. I asked alright, and that Sunday in April, lined up next to my fried chicken, ham, squash casserole and cornbread was a hearty helping of sweet potato casserole. The BEST I ever had! This past Thanksgiving, of course there was my beloved Sweet Potato Casserole on the table and I was probably the happiest person there. Before I left, I asked my MIL for the recipe and she kindly gave it to me. To ensure that I didn’t mess up her recipe, she even obliged me when I begged for the sweet potatoes in her kitchen and she also offered me one of her Pyrex dishes. So with all of this in hand, you know I was NOT going to fail. Today I give you MBT’s Sweet Potato Casserole!
I think I might have a problem when it comes to cooking. There, I said it. A fault confessed is half redressed, so at least I’m making strides. My issue is that I always find a way to incorporate alcohol or pork products into almost ALL of my savory dishes *hides face*. Lard, ham hocks, bacon, fat back, just name it, it’s prolly in my food. The other day I was making hash browns from scratch and where it called for oil, I had some bacon broiling in the oven, I poured the oil (that the bacon produced) into the pan I was about to fry the hash browns in. Somebody save me from myself please! Then, where any type of slow cooking is involved, I whip out the alcohol. Vodka, cognac, brandy, wine, whiskey….and more recently beer. I’m begging, somebody help me!!!! Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that pork and alcohol make everything better, I mean…I DO know! *stifles giggle* Ok, yes, it all this stuff might kill my liver and arteries, but at least I will go very happy. My latest concoction was entirely from scratch, laced with dark beer and bacon and delicious as ever.
Have you had Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay biscuits? O.M.G. I have not been to Red Lobster in over 4 years but I can remember the smell and taste of those biscuits as if I just had them 5 minutes ago! If you don’t know about those biscuits, let me be so kind as to inform you. And I’ll say this much upfront: If you go to Red Lobster and do not like their appetizers, entrees, desserts or drinks, you still are guaranteed to lovveeeee those biscuits. These bad boys are cheesy, fluffy, buttery, garlicy and YUMMY. I don’t know what they put in those biscuits but anytime I hear anyone mention “Red Lobster”, my mind run on these. So in my quest for biscuits similar to Red Lobster’s, I came up with this recipe that gives me biscuits that come reallllyyy close and will sure to be a hit with whoever tastes them.
Rice is often overlooked and sometimes goes unappreciated, but today it’s time for it to get some attention. Even though it’s mostly used a side dish, there is not reason why it cannot be the star of the show. When seasoned and cooked properly, rice can be a flavorful addition to any menu. Rice is easy to make, and it’s one of the least expensive staple foods out there. My vegetable rice was whipped up in a snap and it complemented my wings very nicely!
Of all the things you can do to potatoes, mashing and/or smashing them is my favorite. When I want a creamy, clean, smooth tasting starch, I opt for classic mashed potatoes but there are times when I just want a side dish that is rustic with great texture and loads of flavor: that’s when I pull out my recipe for smashed potatoes. Wait. Not just smashed potatoes but Garlic-Parmesan Smashed Potatoes. I shouldn’t have to say but if you’re watching your carbs and counting calories, then this dish is definitely dangerous to have around. However, if it’s any consolation, by keeping the potato skins on, you’ll get the added bonus of some extra nutrients. Great, right? I know you’d agree! The best part of this dish is that 1. It is super easy! and 2. It can go with practically anything. Fish, chicken, veal, seafood, beef, pork…you get the picture. Sometimes, I just eat this all by itself. Yes, it’s THAT good!