Curried Chicken With Dried Cherries

Curried Chicken and Dried Cherries - over head viewHave you ever heard of the Curry Tree? It is a tropical to sub-tropical tree in the rue family, which also includes the citrus. The tree is native to India and Sri Lanka.

Curry Leaf Tree

curry leaves in a skillet with olive oil

Curry Leaves In A Skillet With Olive Oil

The leaves of the curry tree are used in many Indian dishes. The “sweet neem leaves” are often used in curries, as they (the leaves) are highly valued as a seasoning in southern and west-coast Indian cooking, as well as Sri Lankan cooking .

The leaves when used in curry dishes are add with the chopped onion in the first stage of the preparation of the curry dish.

potted curry leaf tree

Image Credit: Garden Amateur

The tree can be home-raised as a potted plant as it is easily grown in warmer areas of the world, or in containers where the climate is not supportive outdoors. In this image is a potted Curry tree in the yard of an Australian gardener.

Our featured dish is  – Curried Chicken With Dried Cherries – and here is what you will need, and no you will not need to hunt down some curry leaves. Unless you have a tree and want to add some leaves to the dish we are featuring.

3/4 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks 

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon avocado oil

1 small red or purple onion, thinly sliced

2 ribs celery, sliced

1/2 cup fresh water or chicken broth

1/3 cup chopped dried cherries

1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder

1/2 to 1 teaspoon Himalayan Salt (optional)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/3 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons flour

cooking chicken meatIn a large ceramic coated skillet or cast iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of avocado oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, stir occasionally until meat is oblique colored and just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate, and set aside.

cooking onions and celeryTo the same pan add the 1 teaspoon of avocado oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sliced celery and cook, stirring for 3 minutes.

adding curry and dried cherriesNext add the cherries and 1/2 cup water and bring to a light boil. Next stir in the curry powder, salt and pepper.

Next, pour in the cream and mix in. You can also use coconut milk, which is used in traditional Indian dishes. When making this dish, we didn’t have any coconut milk, but we did have some heavy cream.

adding in chicken meat to curry mixNext add the cooked chicken along with any juices and mix in.

Curried Chicken and Dried CherriesServe over rice, couscous or eat as is.

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National Eggnog Day

National Eggnog Day

The origins of eggnog and the components (ingredients) of the concoction are still debated. Some say it was invented during the medieval times.  The “nog” part of the beverages name is said to have stemmed from the word noggin, a term that meant a small, wooden mug used to serve alcohol. It was also referred to as a Egg Flip, which was the practice of rapidly flipping the mixture between two pitchers to mix it.

In England eggnog was considered the trademark drink of the upper class. James Humes an author and historian writes that the average Londoner rarely saw a glass of milk.

It is also said that eggnog descended from a hot British drink called posset, which consisted of eggs, milk, with the addition of an ale (beer) or wine.

With the addition of alcohol, the eggnog was aged for several weeks, maybe even months. Yes raw eggs were used, but remember, booze or alcohol can both be a preservative and sterilizer. Very few bacteria, including salmonella, are not able to survive in the presence of alcohol, as has been proven in lab experiments at Rockefeller University.

Whatever the origins may be, a great beverage was invented 100’s of years ago, which has became a traditional beverage throughout Canada and the United States this time of year, that is starting in November and being available in the market through the first of January.

Let’s get to “Egg Flipping.” But before we can do that, let’s make some eggnog, and here is what you will need.

6 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 to 1 1/2 cup bourbon or rum, optional
Nutmeg and cinnamon stick, to serve

Separate the eggs, putting the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another. Cover the egg whites and refrigerate until needed.

Combine the yolks and the sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

Next, add the milk, cream, and liquor (if using) with the egg mixture and mix until combined.

Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. The more liquor you add, the longer it will keep. If you are making non-alcoholic eggnog, store it in a sealed glass container. The beverage should be consumed within a day.

Before serving a glass of eggnog, whisk the reserved egg whites in a mixer on high speed until the whites form stiff peaks, then fold the beaten egg whites into the prepared eggnog and gently stir the whites into the base (this step is optional. You do not have to add the egg whites).

Adding the whipped egg whites will give the eggnog an extra-creamy texture.

Eggnog with nutmeg and a cinnamon stick Serve in individual glasses topped with nutmeg, and a cinnamon stick.

You can also enjoy eggnog with coconut milk, by exchanging out the dairy milk.

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Pumpkin and Pecan Bread Pudding with Toffee Rum Sauce

Pumpkin and Pecan Bread Pudding with Toffee Rum Sauce

For the the greater part of human history, most cultures could not afford to waste food, so a number of uses for stale bread as an example were fashioned. Stale bread was used in many dishes, which were both savory and sweet. One of those sweet dishes became sweet bread pudding.

The basic recipe for such a dessert, was stale bread, eggs, milk and sugar. Over the years other things were added, like fresh or dried fruits, and nuts.

If two of your favorite desserts happen to be bread pudding and pumpkin pie, then why not enjoy the best of two worlds, that is pumpkin bread pudding?

Our featured recipe combines bread with pumpkin and pecans. But that is not all, this one is accompanied by a toffee sauce that has rum in it. Do we have your mouth watering? Then let’s get to baking. Here is what you will need for the featured recipe: Pumpkin and Pecan Bread Pudding with Toffee Rum Sauce.

1 loaf or 16 oz. sourdough bread, cut into 1 inch cubes

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 ½ cups pumpkin puree, without spices

3 cup half & half or heavy cream

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon Chinese 5 star spice

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup pecan pieces

Toffee Sauce:

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

4 tablespoons butter, melted

½ cup heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons rum

1 teaspoon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

pecans added to bread pudding mixIn a large bowl whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, half and half or cream, melted butter, sugar, vanilla, spice, and salt.bread added to wet ingredients for Pumpkin and Pecan Bread Pudding with Toffee Rum SauceAdd the bread cubes and pecans and toss to coat, making sure all the bread cubes are coated with the egg mixture.

Pumpkin and Pecan Bread Pudding in baking dish ready to bakeSpoon the bread pudding into to 13 X 9 inch glass baking dish and bake 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center just comes out clean.

Pumpkin and Pecan Bread Pudding with Toffee Rum Sauce fresh out of the ovenSet aside on a wire rack to cool slightly.

Pumpkin and Pecan Bread Pudding with Toffee Rum SauceAs the pumpkin bread is cooling you can prepare the toffee sauce. In a small sauce pan, over medium heat, add and mix together the brown sugar, heavy cream, melted butter, and one teaspoon of your favorite rum. Stir toether just until a soft boil, and set aside.

For the whipped cream topping, we personally place a large bowl and the wire whisk attachment or attachments in the freezer for about 5 minutes. A cold bowl and attachments will whip the heavy cream much faster.

In a large cold bowl, pour in the heavy cream, sugar, and rum. Whip until peaks form.

Serve a slice of pumpkin and pecan bread pudding with a dollop of whipped cream, drizzled with some toffee rum sauce, and a sprinkle of pecan pieces.

Try some of our other great bread pudding recipes…

  1. Capirotada – Mexican Bread Pudding
  2. Blueberry Pear and White Chocolate Bread Pudding
  3. Blueberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding

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National Cocoa Day With A Chocolate Tiramisu

National Cocoa DayA hot cup of cocoa is the same as a hot cup of chocolate. Today December 13th according to National Day Calendar, it is National  Cocoa Day. What a great month to have such a day, as the day are getting colder, and a cup of hot cocoa seems the hot beverage to recognize. Even more so, that it is a wintry windy and rainy morning outside at the moment.

National Day Calendar notes that in their research on this day, they were unable to find the creator of National Cocoa Day.

But hey, what a great excuse to make a Chocolate Tiramisu, while enjoying a cup of hot chocolate or hot cocoa. If you enjoy the traditional tiramisu prepared with espresso, you’ll excite your taste buds with a chocolate tiramisu!

Here is what you will need to prepare your own Chocolate Tiramisu, while enjoying a nice cup of hot chocolate.

Chocolate Tiramisu

1¾ cup heavy cream, divided

1  cup coconut sugar or granulated sugar

16 ounces mascarpone cheese

¼ tsp. Himalayan salt

2 tsp. vanilla extract

6 oz semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped

24-30 lady fingers

2 cups prepared hot chocolate, strong, cooled to room temperature

With an electric mixer, beat whipping cream with sugar on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes.

Mix in salt, vanilla, and mascarpone cheese until combined.

Using a pastry bag, pipe a small amount of the cream mixture into the bottoms of 6 – 10 to 12 ounce dessert glasses.

Break lady fingers into pieces first, so they fit, then dip in hot chocolate and place in a single layer over cream mixture. Pipe in some more cream mixture, repeating layers, ending with the cream mixture.

Top with a dusting of unsweetened cocoa powder, and top with shaved dark chocolate or real chocolate sprinkles.

Enjoy at room temperature or chilled.

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Vegan Hot Chocolate

 

Vegan Hot ChocolateEating a vegan diet is both the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, and an associated philosophy that rejects the treatment of farming animals for food.

Being a vegan is clearly more of a lifestyle choice and a philosophy than a diet, writes Christian at Medical News Today.  He also writes that the vegans lifestyle doesn’t use animal based products for clothing as well.

The magazine “Food Technology” published (October 2012) explaining that plant-based diet can either minimize or completely eliminate people’s genetic propensity to developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes type II, cardiovascular disease, and cancer (Science Daily).

Most who profess to be vegan do not eat honey at all. Though some may, as Sophia explains at Sophia Gubb’s Blog, stating, “As for the ethics of being a vegan who eats honey, I see it as somewhere between eating animals and eating plants. At times, I’m even unsure whether the harm to plants might be more intolerable. Bees, like plants, have short life cycles, making the death of a bee less tragic than the death of a long lived animal. I also get the feeling that the worker bees are made to be more expendable somehow than most animals are. They often die when attacking to defend their hive.”

To enjoy a delicious beverage that is vegan, doesn’t mean you have a practice the lifestyle, but rather just enjoy the flavorful ingredients that are simple and easy to purchase at your local market in the organic section.

Now for our featured beverage recipe – Vegan Hot Chocolate – and here is what you will need.

socking cashews in water1/4 cup raw cashews – soak overnight in fresh water
1 3/4 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 tablespoons raw cacao brew (or cacao powder)
1 tablespoon raw honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

ingredients for Vegan Hot ChocolateWe used Nog coconut milk by SO Delicious with added cane sugar and nutmeg, as well as an organic raw honey with cinnamon. If you use the cacao brew, you will need to strain the hot chocolate, as cacao brew is grainy just like ground coffee beans.

adding raw honey

Place everything in a blender (we used our Nutri-Bullet), and blend thoroughly.

adding blended liquid to sauce potAdd to a small sauce pot bring to a boil around 165 degrees. Set aside to brew for 5 minutes, with a lid on the pot. Drain through a strainer (if using cacao brew).

Vegan Hot Chocolate - image 2Makes about 2 six ounce cups of hot chocolate. Enjoy the flavors and taste of Vegan Hot Chocolate.

Archaeologists discovered that cacao has been around for 3,500 years or possibly longer. The culture accredited with growing and harvesting cacao is the Olmec civilization dating back between 1500 B.C and 400 B.C.

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Lentils and Purple Sweet Potato Stew

Lentils and Purple Sweet Potato Stew

Lentils as well as any legume are an inexpensive source of protein, as well  as fat-free, high in fiber and rich in a number of essential nutrients. Adding lentils to your diet offers a number of health benefits, from controlling your weight to promoting heart health.

varieties of lentils You need 25 to 30 grams of fiber everyday, and one half cup of lentils will supply 8 grams of that fiber. Fiber in foods helps suppress appetite, helping you to manage and maintain a healthy weight.  Eating a diet that is rich in dietary fiber also decreases LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in your body.

If you have diabetes or are at risk of developing diabetes, fiber rich foods can also help in the regulation of sugar in the blood stream.

According to the World Health Organization iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disorder in the world, and 1/2 cup of lentils provides 3.3 milligrams in a 1/2-cup serving.

Keep in mind though, that your body can’t absorb as much iron from plant-based foods, including lentils as it does from meat sources. Eating lentils with a food rich in vitamin-C, such as sweet peppers, can help improve absorption.

As you might have guessed by now our featured recipe has lentils, and to  help your body take advantage of the iron in them, the recipe includes vitamin-C sources, including green beans, carrots, and celery.

Our featured recipe is: Lentils and Purple Sweet Potato Stew, and here is what you will need.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 medium rainbow carrots, sliced (colors include yellow, purple, and red)

2 medium celery stalks, sliced

1 bay leaf

1 garlic clove, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder

2 cups dried green lentils, picked over and rinsed

2 medium purple sweet potatoes, 1/2-inch dice

9 ounces fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch slices

1 – 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Himalayan salt and fresh ground black pepper

Whole leaf cilantro and plain Greek yogurt, for garnishing

chopped vegetables for Lentils and Purple Sweet Potato Stew

Prepare vegetables and in a extra- large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and bay leaf. Cook the vegetables while stirring until they are softened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Next add the garlic and curry powder and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Next add 7 cups of fresh water and the green lentils. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook 10 minutes.

Next add the sweet potatoes and continue to cook, with the pot covered, until the lentils and sweet potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes.

Nest add the green beans and can of diced tomatoes with juice, and cook until warmed through, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove bay leaf from stew pot, and add the chopped cilantro and stir until combined. Season with salt and pepper.

Bowl of Lentils and Purple Sweet Potato Stew

Serve with a dollop of yogurt and whole cilantro leaves. Enjoy!!

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