A Co-op Organic Market in Gainesville Florida

We traveled to the University of Florida this past week to attend my son’s tennis camp. While there I was treated to the best Vegan/Vegetarian meals I’d ever had. Who knew that a southern college town would have such an abundance of healthy eating options.

My favorite place of all was this Co-op Organic Market located just north of the campus, called Citizens Organic Co-op Market. 

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They had an abundance of everything and everything looked fresh and their prices were very reasonable. One thing in particular I saw was that they carried 7 types of tomatoes, offered a self serve bulk area, local brewed and unique beers ( including Russian River IPA)and a really cool patio with a play area for kids.

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A Summer Strawberry Cocktail that’s amazingly yummy

I usually detest sweet cocktails, but recently I’ve been making some really yummy ones. So I guess what I really hate is the headache that can often follow.

The key is using top rate liquors and ensure that whatever wine pairing you choose for the meal, will also be compatible with the cocktail.

So if it doesn’t pair well, it’s best to skip the cocktail and go for an appetizer wine instead.

This cocktail is so simple to make…I recommend it with Mexican tappas.

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Ingredients:

1 pint of fresh strawberries

Juice of half a lemon

2 ounces Ketal One Vodka

1 ounce Grand Marnier Liqueur

1 tablespoon (mixture sugar and water, equal parts)

Refined sugar for the rim

The How:

Wash, remove stems and slice strawberries

In a bowl, add the simple syrup mixture of sugar and water and the strawberries

Begin to mash the mixture together until the berries are macerated.

In a cocktail shaker, combine all along with a handful of ice- shake

Strain and serve in a glass (use the leftover lemon to rub along the rim of the glass and dip into the sugar)

Garnish with a strawberry and enjoy!

You can have everything in life you want “if” you will just help enough other people get what they want. —Zig Ziglar

When I’m feeling less than perfect

And I’ve said yes when I should have said no, sorry I can’t.

When I’m crazy busy….and I need to take a breather. 

When I need clarity… MUSIC IS MY MEDICINE

I turn to music………what’s your inspiration, motivation, muse, light….funk!

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The Doobie Brothers

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Crosby Stills & Nash

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Steely Dan

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Santana

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Curtis Mayfield

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King Crimson

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Rickie Lee Jones

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Stevie Wonder

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Chaka Khan

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The Band

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Heart

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Mother’s Finest

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Caravan

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Peter Frampton

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Little Feet

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Parliament Funkadelic

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Government Mule

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Gil Scott Heron

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Aretha Franklin

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Led Zeplin

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The Rolling Stones

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Fleetwood Mac

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Eric Clapton

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Jefferson Starship

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Nicolette Larsen

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Marvin Gaye

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The Faces

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Atlanta Rhythm Section

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Hot Tuna

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WAR

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The Eagles

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Bryan Ferry

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The Police

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The Grateful Dead

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Joni Mitchell

 

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David Bowie

 

 

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Greg Allman Band

 

 

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Thin Lizzy

 

 

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Todd Rundgren

 

 

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Cream

 

 

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The Black Crowes

 

Quinoa in Lasagna…..really…..YES

Quinoa is all the rage right now. Its everywhere. 

While quinoa is usually considered to be a whole grain, it is actually a seed, but can be prepared like whole grains such as rice or barley.  Quinoa is my favorite whole grain because it takes less time to cook than other whole grains – just 10 to 15 minutes.  So for a busy Mom like me, it’s become a staple in my pantry.

Quinoa takes on the flavor of what you pair it with. It has no saturated fat, no trans fat and its low in sodium and cholesterol. It’s also a great source for Magnesium and Phosphorus.

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You’ve got to try this recipe……..it is amazing, simple and healthy!

Ingredients: (serving 8)

2 cups vegetable broth

1 cup quinoa

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup chopped yellow onions

1 cup sliced portobello mushrooms

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups pasta sauce ( I make my own, but jar sauce will work as well)

2 cups ricotta cheese

1 large egg, beaten

1/4 cup Parmesan Reggiano cheese

2 tablespoons minced fresh basil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 cups zucchini, sliced into thin strips

2 cups packed fresh spinach (washed)

1 & 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Equipment:

9 x 13 baking dish

cooking spray

medium saucepan

mandoline (for slicing zucchini)

aluminum foil

large bowl

chef’s knife and two large spoons

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (line your middle rack with aluminum foil to catch the drips!)

  • Coat your baking dish with cooking spray. Bring 2 cups vegetable broth to a boil. Add 1 cup quinoa, stir to incorporate, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes ( the seeds will “pop” open) until the liquid is fully absorbed. 
  • Chop onions and garlic. Add olive oil to a saucepan. Add onions and cook over medium heat, stirring until they start to become translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are softened. Add garlic and stir constantly, when you smell the aroma of the garlic (only a minute or two) then Add the sauce. Image
  • Stir in the sauce and simmer for 3 – 5 minutes and remove from heat and set aside.
  • In a separate bowl combine the ricotta and egg, mix well. Image

Stir in Parmesan cheese, chopped basil, and oregano

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  • Evenly spread quinoa in the bottom of the baking dish

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  • Spread 1/3 of sauce mixture over the quinoa. Make a layer of all the zucchini, then spread a layer of all the  cheese mixture.

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Spread half of the remaining tomato sauce on top of the cheese mixture, then layer the spinach

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Add the remaining sauce and shredded mozarella

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  • Bake for 35 to 45 minutes covered with foil, removing the foil in the last ten minutes of baking.Bon Appetit!

Getting started cooking Taiwanese

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So many times we think about cooking a dish and we run out and get the ingredients for a particular recipe, spending so much more money than we have to trying to create the dish.

However, as a chef I’ve learned that it’s more savvy to equip ones kitchen with essential ingredients so that you are stocked with items that allow you to cook more freely.

The flavors of Taiwan (see Taipei, Family Style) echo those of mainland China and Japan, but the island boasts its own canon of staple ingredients.

Here is a list of items to get you started:

  • Kobacha and other kinds of hard squash—collectively called nan gua in Mandarin—are often stir-fried with ginger or stuffed with sticky rice and sweet Chinese sausage and baked.  Image
  • A clear, faintly sweet variety of Chinese rice wine, sometimes labeled michiu or mi jiu and intended only for cooking, is used for braises and stews. Image
  • Hong Zao, a marinating paste that imparts a complex, sour flavor and pink hue to meats. Image
  • Black VinegarFermenting rice a different way produces rich, tangy black vinegar, which goes into dishes like hot-and-sour soup and mian xian, a garlicky noodle soup, and makes a great dipping sauce for dumplings.   Image
  • White pepper – Musky-tasting white pepper is often used in stir-fries. Image
  • Dried fermented black beans – Which lend a pungent, earthy flavor to stews. Image
  • Sweet potato starch – The Taiwanese are masters of deep-frying, and their preferred batter is made with sweet potato starch, which creates a crisp, light crust (use the coarsest variety you can find). Image
  • Mushroom powder – essentially dehydrated mushroom broth- adds a savory, umami character to many dishesImageSo, there you have it. 

    Just about every city has as Asian market in an existing neighborhood. Here in Atlanta we have a wonderful ethnic community just north of the city on the famous road known as Buford Highway.  Image

    There you can find everything from Japanese, Vietnamese, Mexican, Ethiopian and the list goes on. 

Barbeque Chicken that’s so easy, from grill to oven

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I am awful on the outdoor grill. I don’t know when its hot enough,  or quite when to turn items and everything while not burned, just doesn’t turn out well. 

But, when it comes to barbeque chicken, you just have to use the grill. 

So for us, this was a “tag-team” effort.

Doug’s great at grilling…and I’m…. well I’m the chef.

I came up with this method of grilling first and then utilizing the oven to preserve the moisture in the meat. The result, simply amazing.

Most people use chicken thighs, but Doug loves the breast meat so I just get large skin-on chicken breasts and cut them in half.

Here’s the how:

Clean your chicken!! I cannot express this enough, every chicken should be throughly rinsed under cold water before cooking and watch to make sure you keep your surfaces clean as you go.

  • brine your chicken first ( equal parts sugar and salt is added to cold water) in a bowl and refrigerate for 1hour.  I use organic demerara sugar and kosher salt 1/2 cup of each.
  • rinse and pat dry the chicken with paper towels

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and heat your outdoor grill to medium heat

Tag team time! 

  • Give the “griller” in your family the plate of chicken, and have them place the chicken on the grill, skin side down.  Cooking for exactly 5 minutes per side (we set the timer)
  • transfer chicken to a baking sheet or glass oven dish large enough so the chicken doesn’t overlap
  • place in your preheated oven and cook for 15 minutes
  • Remove and brush liberally with your favorite sauce
  • return to the oven and cook for 25 to 30 minutes more, basting a 2nd time halfway through remaining cooking time.

Tattoos the easy way

I don’t like the idea of permanent ink on my skin. I love the body “as is” fresh and clean and in it’s natural state. However; the idea of a fun temporary tattoo is making me want to try it out.

It would be great for a weekend getaway, summer vacation, date night, perhaps even marking a new goal reached.

I found this great company called  Tattly. They make the most wonderful temporary tattoos and they are only $5 for  a set of two!!

I’ve picked out a few here to give you and idea of what they offer.

“Happy Tattooing!”

Link: http://tattly.com

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