Monthly Archives: February 2016

Beef and Broccoli



Ever once in awhile, I have a craving for   beef and broccoli, and lately most restaurants are not delivering the high quality food they use too and I have been disappointed that many  restaurants dishes do not live up to my expectations.

The secret to home made beef and broccoli is thinly sliced beef and flavor. In this recipe, the tender, thin slices of beef are so juicy, so flavorful as they soak up every savory essence of the marinade, and then the sauce; which is rich, slightly sweet, mostly savory, and just so right!  Are you ready for the  two secret ingredients that makes such a scrumptious sauce?

Oyster sauce and pomegranate juice. Surprised?

If you have done a lot of Asian style cooking,  then you probably know that it  is a staple in Asian cooking.  It is a thick, brown sauce with a balance between sweet and salty with an earthy undertone, due to the oyster extracts.  You can find oyster sauce in the Asian aisle of any supermarket for only a few dollars. But like with any commercial preparation,  not all bottled  oyster sauce is created equal.  The quality of oyster sauce will affect the flavor, so if you want the extra something something to your dish, purchase a good quality good quality sauce for a few dollars more and keep it on hand in your pantry.

Pomegranate juice adds a little musky citrus taste with a depth of flavor you  usually associate with red wine or concentrated beef drippings.This makes the flavor of pomegranates invaluable anywhere you want to add a little depth or complexity.

 And be warned, guard the leftovers, if there are any,  this recipe for Beef and Broccoli will leave you craving more!

Serves 4
For the Beef Marinade:
1 pound flank steak, cut across the grain into 1/8 thin slices, then cut into 2” length pieces
1 Tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 Tablespoon black bean sauce
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Sweet Thai chili sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
For the Sauce:
½ cup 100% pomegranate juice
1/4 cup Tablespoons honey
1/2 cup sweet chili sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 lime, juiced
1/2 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Japanese rice wine or dry sherry
2 Tablespoons chicken broth
5 Tablespoons oyster sauce
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon ginger, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon peanut oil
For the Vegetables:
3 1/2 – 4 cups broccoli florets, cut into bit size pieces
1/2 cup julienned carrots
1/4 cup water
3 medium scallions, sliced

Pour marinade ingredients directly into freezer bag and mix well. Add beef and massage in marinade until well covered. Refrigerate for 2-8 hours. For best results, allow to set overnight.

When ready to cook the beef, whisk the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.In another medium  bowl, combine all the sauce ingredients together. Set aside.

Drain excess marinade off of beef (if there is any).

Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat until very hot and sizzling. Add beef to the skillet and break up any clumps; cook without stirring for 1 minute, then stir and cook until beef is browned and almost cooked through, about 1-2 minutes. Note:  Do not overcook or the beef. for it will not  be as tender.The beef will cook more in the sauce. Transfer beef to a large plate and cover.If your skillet is small, then cook in 2 batches.

Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil to the now-empty skillet; heat until very hot and sizzling. Add the broccoli  and carrots and saute for 30 seconds. Add water, cover pan, and lower heat to medium. Steam vegetables  until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.

Push the broccoli  and carrots to the sides of the skillet and add the sauce mixture to the center of the pan, mashing the garlic mixture with a spoon, until fragrant, about 15 to 20 seconds, then stir the mixture into the broccoli and carrots.

Return the beef to the skillet and toss to combine. Whisk the sauce to recombine then add to the skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened and beef is cooked through, about 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with the scallions, and serve.

DSC02194.JPG Parenting Team FC Contributor


Poulet Yassa (Yassa Chicken)


A traditional chicken dish from the Casamance region of Senegal, Poulet Yassa (Yassa Chicken ), is one of the most famous African recipes and is found in Senegalese restaurants the world over. For best results let the chicken marinate overnight; in Africa, this is essential to tenderize the sometimes tougher African fowl. It is also very good when made with fish, see: Poisson Yassa. For the simplest yassa, make the marinade from just oil, lemon juice, onions, and a little mustard.

Serves 4 to 6

1/2 cup peanut oil (or any cooking oil)
one chicken, cut into serving-sized pieces
4 to 6 onions, sliced
8 Tablespoons lemon juice
8 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 bay leaf
4 cloves minced garlic
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons Arome Maggi® sauce or soy sauce
1 chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
Kosher salt, to taste
1 small cabbage, cut into chunks
2 carrots, cut into chunks

One day before: Cut the onions into thin slices. To make the marinade, combine onions, mustard, lemon juice, chile pepper, salt, and pepper in a  large non-metallic  bowl. Place the pieces of chicken into the marinade, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate over night for the best results.

The next day, remove the chicken  from the marinade. Reserve the marinade to make the sauce.

Cook  the chicken using on the following methods:

  • Cooking method 1: Grill chicken over a charcoal fire (or bake
    it in a hot oven preheated to 375 F) until chicken is lightly browned but not done.
  • Cooking method 2: Sauté chicken for a few minutes on each side in hot oil in a cast iron skillet.

While chicken is browning, remove onions from marinade and sauté them in a large Dutch oven until translucent. Add  the reserved marinade and the vegetables and bring to a slow boil and cook at a boil for ten minutes. Next, add the chicken  to the sauce, cover and simmer over medium heat until chicken is tender, about 30-40 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.

To serve, spoon the vegetables into a soup platter and top with the chicken and ladle the sauce over the chicken.

This dish is also best served with sides like  rice, couscous  or fufu. For a more authenitc meal, Yassa Chicken is also served with  ginger beer or green tea with mint with or after the meal.

 DSC02184.JPG Parenting Team FC Contributor


Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemons and Olives



This colorful Moroccan stew offers deep spices, but stays light and bright with tart citrus, briny green olives and fresh cilantro. For the most authentic presentation, serve it in a  tagine, atop a bed of couscous.

Serves  4


1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
2 Tablespoons warm water
2 large yellow onions, chopped
1/2 cup  coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, plus  more for garnish
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley,  plus more for garnish
4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
6 Tablespoons olive oil
6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 1/2 cups cracked green olives
2 preserved lemons, thinly sliced
1/2 cup  chicken broth


In a small bowl, soak the saffron in the warm water for 10 minutes.

In a food processor, combine the onions, the 1/2 cup cilantro, 1/2 cup parsley and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Add the cumin, ginger, turmeric, the saffron and its soaking liquid and the salt. Process to a pulpy puree. Transfer to a large resealable plastic bag. Add the garlic and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the chicken thighs, seal the bag and massage to coat the chicken with the mixture. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.

Put the olives in a large, heavy fry pan and add water to cover. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, then simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the olives and set aside. Thoroughly dry the pan.

In the same pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the lemon slices and sear until browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan. Remove the chicken from the marinade, shaking off the excess and reserving the marinade. Working in batches, sear the chicken, skin side down, until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to another plate.

Pour the broth into the pan, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Stir in the reserved marinade and add the chicken and any juices. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer until the chicken is opaque throughout, about 40 minutes.

Add the olives, the reserved lemon slices and the remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice to the pan with the chicken. Cover and simmer until the chicken is falling-off-the-bone tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Garnish the stew with chopped cilantro and parsley and serve immediately. Parenting Team FC Contributor


Chicken Pot Pie Fritters

DSC02126 Parenting Team FC Contributor


Drunken Sticky Pomegranate Chicken


February 18 has been designated as “National  Drink Wine Day” and there is no better way to celebrate than this red wine marinated chicken braised to tender perfection, and then glazed in a sweet, spicy and tart pomegranate sauce. You can tailor this recipe to use any kind of sweet wine that you like the best, ,which may include Port, Merlot, Chianti or Shiraz. Who needs a fork? This chicken is  so sticky, icky, finger lickin’ good!



Serves 4 to 6

For the marinade:
2 cups sweet red wine (like a Shiraz)
1/4 cup  brandy
1 carrot, grated
1 red onion, grated
2 bay leaves

For the Chicken:
3 1/2 pounds chicken thigh and legs
¼teaspoon ginger powder
¼teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon cumin
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons olive oil

For the Glaze:
½ cup 100%  pomegranate juice
1/4 cup  Tablespoons honey
1/2 cup sweet chili sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
6 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 lime, juiced
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste

Pomegranate arils, for garnish
Freshly chopped cilantro, for garnish

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a large heavy-duty plastic bag set over a bowl. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.Add the chicken and seal the bag with as little air as possible, leaving it in the bowl. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for a day, turning it from time to time; the bag ensures that all of the chicken is kept moist with marinade.

Preheat oven to 375°F

Remove the wings from the marinade.Thoroughly pat dry the wings using paper towel. Add the chicken to a large bowl and coat with b, spices, salt and pepper.

In another large bowl, whisk together pomegranate juice, honey,chili sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, lime juice, garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Heat a large oven-safe Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add olive oil.Place the marinated, seasoned chicken in the Dutch oven and sear on each side until deeply golden and brown, about 5 minutes per side. Remove chicken and place on a plate. Pour off the oil and lower the heat to medium-low. Deglaze the Dutch oven by pouring the glaze mixture into the pot. Whisk, allowing the sauce to bubble and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. Place chicken back in the skillet and turn and toss to coat. Bake covered for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the chicken,  place on a rack and set aside.

Return the Dutch oven to the  stovetop and cook the glaze, stirring occasionally until the sauce has reduced and thickened. Taste the glaze and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed. Return the chicken to the Dutch oven and toss until well coated.

To serve, remove chicken and  arrange on a large platter. Garnish with chopped cilantro and pomegranate arils. Parenting Team FC Contributor


Croquetas de jamón Cubano

Photo Credit: The Heart of Homemade, 2014

These Cuban-style ham croquetas are everything a croquette should be: smooth, flavorful, and delightfully crispy. Croquetas are found at Cuban food stands as well as birthday parties, weddings and quinceñeras. Croquetas are also very popular at restaurants, walk-up counters and bakeries all over Miami, Florida, where I first discovered them. There are countless versions  where you can also use chicken, fish, potato or cheese as a filling,  so feel free to adapt to your own tastes.


Makes 12 to 24 Croquettes

For the filling (masa):
4 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup onion, minced fine
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1   1/2 cups whole milk, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 Tablespoon dry sherry
1 Tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
1 pound smoked ham, ground
1 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground  black pepper, or  to taste

For the breading:
2  large eggs, beaten with 1 Tablespoon water
1 cup dry bread crumbs, mixed with 1/4 cup  all purpose flour*
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying


Melt the butter in a 3-quart saucepan, add the onions, and sauté until translucent.

Whisk in 1/3 cup flour to make a roux ;  add more butter if necessary to make a smooth roux. Gradually whisk in the milk to form a smooth sauce. Continue cooking until the sauce thickens. Whisk in nutmeg, sherry, and parsley. Fold in the ground ham and one cup bread crumbs.

Let the filling mixture simmer for five minutes on low heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. NOTE: The ham probably has enough salt already.

Spoon the mixture into a baking pan and refrigerate until well chilled for at least one hour. NOTE: The mixture needs to be firm enough to form into rolled “logs”. If your mixture is too soft or sticky, add some additional bread crumbs.

Shape the ham mixture into logs about 3/4-inch thick and three inches long.

To set up the breading station:
Make an egg wash by beating the eggs with water until frothy in a small bowl.

Combine the bread crumbs and flour in a second bowl; add salt and pepper.

Dip the logs in the egg wash and roll the logs in the seasoned bread crumbs. Dip a second time and re-roll in bread crumbs.

Place the croquettes in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan lined with parchment paper and cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. NOTE: You may also freeze for the croquettes for later use.

In a Dutch oven, or a deep fat fryer, add enough oil so that it will cover the croquettes. Heat the oil to the frying stage at about 360 to 375º F. Fry the croquettes in small batches,for about three to four minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown. Always let the oil come back to 375ºF between batches. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.

Cook’s Notes:

* For a lighter crispier breading, you can use about 1  1/2 sleeves of saltine crackers,finely ground in food processor or blender. Another option is to use 12 ounces of  cracker meal in place  of the bread crumbs when making the breading.

For a variation, an equal amount of  COOKED chicken, can be substituted for the ham. Grind the cooked chicken in a food processor. Add a dash of fresh lime juice to the ground chicken. In omitting the parsley, add a handful of chopped cilantro to the ground chicken for a nice flavor twist.

The breaded croquettes can be frozen in plastic wrap or aluminum foil indefinitely. Just thaw them before frying.

The traditional way to serve croquettes is without any sauce, but some restaurants serve them with a cilantro garlic sauce for dipping. They are also good dipped in ketchup! Parenting Team FC Contributor


Persian Fried Chicken Smothered in Peaches with Curry CousCous





So what happens when I didn’t make it to the grocery store before the arctic polar vortex hits,  the East Coast region? Well, I was left to forage in the nether regions of my  refrigerator, freezer and pantry with such a diverse mix of ingredients.

And what happened was the creation of dish inspired by my Grand’s kitchen; the Sunday Chicken Smothered in Peaches.

So, my version of my Grands’s beloved chicken dish  is the perfect  marriage of multicultural cuisines from the Deep American South, North Africa, The Middle East and India:Persian Fried Chicken Smothered in Peaches and Almonds on a bed of Minted Curry Couscous. I think I out did myself with  this global fusion dish!


Enjoy! Parenting Team FC Contributor


Red Velvet Maple Bacon Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches



Red Velvet Charlotte Royale



DSC01717 Parenting Team FC Contributor


Persian Chicken with Pomegranate and Walnuts

Persian Chicken with Pomegranate and Walnuts
Photo Credit: Scott Phillips

The slow cooker makes this classic Middle Eastern dish a breeze, mostly because the spices mellow slowly into a sweet, aromatic sauce. The walnuts should be finely chopped into bits smaller than grains of rice, or even ground if you want a somewhat smoother sauce. Serve the chicken over long-grain saffron rice.


Serves 4 to 6

1 1/2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon  ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon  ground turmeric
1/4  teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon  ground allspice
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, halved
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 cups toasted walnut pieces, very finely chopped or ground
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
Fresh pomegranate seeds, for garnish
Long grain rice, for serving

Mix the sugar, cinnamon, turmeric, nutmeg, allspice, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Add the chicken and coat evenly. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the onion; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the walnuts and continue cooking, stirring almost constantly, for 2 minutes, until the nuts are lightly browned.

Stir in the pomegranate molasses, then scrape the contents of the skillet into a 6-quart slow cooker. Spoon the spiced chicken on top of the cooked onion mixture, scraping any spices that cling to the bowl into the slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low until the chicken is tender and cooked through, 3 1/2 to 5 hours. Season to taste with salt, stir in half of the pomegranate seeds, and garnish with the remainder.

Serve family style. Parenting Team FC Contributor