Banana Pear Smoothie With a Twist (or two)

>> Thursday, May 27, 2010

One of the things I really look forward to in late Spring and all throughout the Summer is the abundance of fresh and exotic fruits and vegetables available. I have already started taking advantage of all the fresh fruit that is overflowing at my local fruit and vegetable shops. This time of year is also great for me because I crave more fruits and vegetables in my cooking and for snacking, so it helps in making good healthy choices. Smoothies are a good snack or even lunch obviously because of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that fresh fruits and vegetables contain and because a good smoothie will leave you feeling full for hours. But let's not go crazy here, because drinking your fruits and veggies can be more caloric than just munching on fruits and veggies. The reason is that many people go crazy on adding additional sweeteners, adding too much milk or yogurt , and the addition of toppings like whipped cream. I try to stay away from adding these ingredients as much as possible unless I need more vitamins or calcium for my daily intake. The point to this is to keep a healthy snack-drink-dessert just that healthy and low fat. So today I have another fruit smoothie recipe it's a Banana Pear Smoothie With a Twist (or two).

Where do the twists come in? from the Almond milk (home made) and from the Matcha. Matcha you say?, that's right I told you guys I am really enjoying experimenting with this favorite ingredient of mine. Using almond milk gave the smoothie an additional flavor that ordinary milk would not have. Also almond milk has 90 calories in 1 cup as opposed to full fat milk having 146 calories in 1 cup. The flavors of the pear,banana, almond milk and Matcha came together quite well. It was a delicious thick and velvety creamy drink that left me full for a few hours , which was perfect to quit the hunger pangs hours before dinner time. So here's the recipe and hope you enjoy it too!

Your Ingredients:
1 large green Concorde Pear
1 small banana
pinch of Match green tea
1/2 cup or 118 ml Almond milk
Honey, to taste (optional)


1. Peel and core pear, then cut into small chunks. Peel and slice the banana. Add both the pear and banana to a blender. Next add the pinch of Matcha and as much honey as you like. Then pour in the almond milk, put the lid on the blender and blend.
2. Blend until the fruit has blended into a smooth thick mixture. If you would like a thinner smoothie feel free to add as much almond milk as you like.

For a cooler version:
Add some ice cubes to the ingredients and then continue to blend.

I am excited to tell you that I will be participating in Natasha's (Five Star Foodie) May smoothie & shakes 5 Star Makeover, check it out!


More Awards

>> Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Over the past month or so I have received a few more awards. Thank you Liv, Catherine and Biren! I would like to apologize for not publishing these earlier I just wanted to do them all together.

I have received the Happy 101 award (again :) ) from Biren at Roti n rice. Thank you Biren, and please visit her blog for some mouthwatering recipes.

I would like to pass this award on to the following bloggers: (Winners please list 10 things that make you happy when you accept the award on your site)

Conor :

Chef Dennis :


Pacheco Patty :

Rick :

Tanatha :

The next award I received was the Sunshine Award from Liv Wan at "Egg Wan's Eastern Food Odyssey" . Thank you Liv! Please stop by this amazingly talented and extraordinary blogger/Chef's site.

I would like to pass this award on to the following bloggers:
Conor :

Chef Dennis :



Pacheco Patty :

Rick :

Tanatha :

Elin :

Lauren :

OK and the last award I received came courtesy of Catherine at Living the Gourmet. Thank you Catherine! Please also stop by Catherine's site, she has a fantastic collection of finger-licking recipes. You'll leave hungry :)

I would like to pass this award on to the following bloggers:

Liv Wan :

Conor :

Chef Dennis :



Pacheco Patty :

Rick :

Tanatha :

Elin :

Lauren :

I highly recommend all of the blogs I have mentioned above, they are all ones I like and visit often. So stop by and hi to them!


Matcha Blueberry Corn Muffins, a real treat

>> Sunday, May 23, 2010

I must admit ... I have a new addiction, Match Tea. There's no other green tea quite like Matcha, both in the taste an versatility of uses. We all know how we can simply just enjoy a cup of Matcha and be fully satisfied and content. In Japan the tea is also used in an assortment of sweets like ice cream, cakes, cookies, breads, mochi, chocolate and candy. ( By the way Matcha candy is energy boosting and really tasty.) I love this tea so much, if you remember from a previous post I told you guys how I'm always looking for ways to use it in my cooking and baking. Today I have another new experimental creation using Matcha, and let me tell you it was good!
The recipe is based on my Blueberry Corn Muffin recipe, keeping the recipe pretty much the same but adding Matcha to the batter. It may sound a bit strange corn meal -blueberries and Matcha? what? Yep! You've really got to give it a try yourself. The muffins come out moist, not too sweet , fruity and velvety with a hint of Matcha. As always I try to use the healthier and least amount of fats/oils and sugar in both my cooking and baking. So only small amounts of sugar in this recipe too.

Your ingredients:

1 cup of white flour
1 cup corn meal (medium grain)
1/4 cup organic cane sugar (also know as Turbinado sugar)
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. Matcha Green Tea powder
1 whole egg
1 TBS. Sunflower oil
1/3 cups of plain white yogurt,creamy
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup of fresh blueberries

1. Preheat the oven to 375c / 190c. Prepare the tins or molds by either lining with paper cups or cover the molds/tins with a little oil then dust with flour. (this is a great tip because it will help the muffins come out of the molds easier)

2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl dust the blueberries with white flour, this is to try to prevent them from bleeding too much. Make a small well in the dry ingredients and in the center add the egg,oil,milk and the yogurt. Start mixing all the ingredients until you have a smooth well blended batter. Gently fold in the blueberries, and mix all ingredients thoroughly. If you over-mix the blueberries will break down and the batter will turn purple( of course it doesn't affect the taste only the color, so it could be a fun thing to try.)

3.Fill the tins/molds 3/4 of the way and bake for 20 minutes in center of the oven. After about 15 minutes check by inserting a toothpick in the center to see that they have baked all the way through. If the toothpick comes out with batter you'll need to continue baking until it's dry.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving them. If you are eating them the next day and would like them warm you can always microwave the muffins.
If you would like to see my recent Strawberry Green Tea Smoothie where I used Matcha and I give you some health information on this amazing tea you can see it here.


Five Star Foodie's Spicy Aioli atop Grilled Bison Steaks:Guest Post

>> Friday, May 21, 2010

Today I have a very special treat for you guys, Natasha the 5 Star Foodie is stopping by to share one of her 5 Star recipes. Natasha was the winner of my first giveaway, she won a Le Creuset mortar and pestle set, As part of the price she was invited to share with us a recipe using her brand new mortar and pestle. Kindly Natasha accepted and wait till you see what she cooked up. I'm sure many of you know Natasha's blog 5 Star Foodie, and are well aware of what a truly amazing and talented cook she is. Her recipes are well, just mouthwatering delicious! But they are not just for us grown ups she has many family friendly recipes for all of you looking to cook scrumptious meals the whole family will love. Alright I can't keep you guys waiting any longer , so here it is ( you can start drooling now) :

A few weeks ago I was lucky to win a mortar and pestle in a giveaway at Spicie Foodie blog. I was very excited as I've been wanting to get this essential kitchen tool for a while. It is great for grinding spices or preparing homemade pesto, guacamole, or aioli. I find it especially useful for making these recipes in very small portions. Today, I'd like to share a recipe for aioli with spicy picante peppers served atop grilled bison steaks.


2 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
4-5 small whole sweet picante peppers, peeled, seeds removed, chopped
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 bison steak fillets, about 6 ounces each
1 tablespoon oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon crushed black peppercorns


Place garlic and salt together in the mortar and mash slowly with the pestle.

Add picante peppers and grind the garlic and peppers together into a paste. Whisk in the egg yolk with a wire whisk. Add the oil in a slow stream while whisking with a pestle until the mixture achieves the consistency of mayonnaise. Strain through a fine mesh if necessary.

Brush the steaks with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill for about 3-4 minutes per side. Place the steaks on the plates and let them sit for 1-2 minutes. Spoon the spicy picante pepper aioli on top of each steak. Serve with corn sauté or fried potatoes.

Thank you Natasha for sharing such a delicious recipe :) , I can't wait to try your spicy Aioli. I also want to remind you guys to submit your smoothie or shake recipe with a twist for this month's 5 Star Makeover, there's a neat prize too. I'm working on mine for my first entry, can't wait!


Caramelized Pears on Goat Cheese Crostini

>> Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Caramelized pears with ash coated goat cheese and topped with crushed almonds on top of whole grain toast. Crostini is Italian for toast and it sounds nicer than just saying toast. Don't you just love Italian , it makes even the simplest things sound marvelous :) The goat cheese I am using is one of my favorite types of goat cheese , it it covered in ash. Ash? yes that's right! Though you do find some cheeses with cow milk that have ash, Ash is most commonly added to goat cheese to help tone down the acidity. Some cheeses have the ash added on the outside and others have a layer of ash in the center diving two layers. There is nothing to be nervous about when it comes to the ash, it's flavorless and perfectly safe.

All this talk about cheese is making me really miss France. When I lived in Paris my flat was just down the street from our local Fromagerie. Ah a cheese lover's paradise, even with the horrible smell. Mexicans don't eat a lot of cheese so for me cheese was something I grew to love. My husband started introducing me to all sorts of cheeses, that I know love. But living in cheese paradise France I quickly felt like I knew nothing about cheese, (Ok I still don't know that much). Going to the fromagerie was always an adventure to try new cheeses. ( After closing hours if you walked down the street from the shop you could still smell the cheese , hehe). At restaurants we quickly took to loving the assiette du fromage (cheese plate) for dessert. But even just taking a walk down the "cheese isle" in our local Champion grocery store was an exhilarating experience. There were so many different choices of deliciously creamy and wonderfully stinky cheeses, I honestly can't remember them all.

In Prague the choices of local cheeses are somewhat limited and there aren't any fromageries here. But recently a small gourmet shop opened up in my neighborhood. Of course I had to know what was being sold there, and to my surprise they have FROMAGE!! lots of French cheeses, Dutch , German and Italian varieties. I was thrilled to see the ash coated goat cheese as it was always one of my favorites in Paris. I can't wait to go back to try some new cheeses, yum. So today I am sharing a simple recipe to use this very versatile cheese, a crostini.

Your Ingredients:
1 pear (your choice)
goat cheese, spreadable
balsamic vinegar
black pepper
almonds, slivered or freshly crushed

1. Peel the pear and either slice or dice it. In a pan melt a knob of butter, just enough to coat the pan, then add the pears. Stir the pears then add some honey to coat the pear pieces. I used about 1 spoonful, adjust to your liking. Next drizzle a bit of balsamic vinegar and stir the mixture. Sprinkle in a pinch each of salt and black pepper and again stir to combine the mixture.
2. Cook until the pear pieces have become soft and transparent, they will have caramelized. Prepare the bread by toasting then spread some goat cheese on the toast. Top the toast with the cooked pears and spread on a even layer. Sprinkle the almonds and serve.

Makes a great light lunch or snack with it's slightly salty and sweet then a slight crunch from the almonds. Enjoy!


Bratwurst mit Sauerkraut

>> Friday, May 14, 2010

Bratwurst mit (with) Sauerkraut and a beer is a meal made for a man! Okay us ladies will also really enjoy this meal for it's flavors and if it's your turn to cook dinner for it's convenience. Sauerkraut is the German word for a fermented finely shredded white cabbage. Sauerkraut is somewhat sour and has a slight crunchiness or crispness to it. It is a common ingredient in not only German but several Slavic dishes and let's not forget a delicious French dish called Choucroute Garnie made with sauerkraut, sausages and some salted meats. I really liked Choucroute but other than that I mostly have seen or have used Sauerkraut used as a topping for grilled sausages and both as a side dish and inside of Polish Pierogi dumplings.

Bratwurst means sausage in German, the sausage is made of either Veal,pork or beef. The Bratwurst I like the most is the one made from Veal and it is the one that I will use for this recipe. In the US when you think Bratwurst you think of a grilled sausage inside a hot dog bun or roll, usually served with mustard, grilled onions and or sauerkraut. On our trips to Germany and Austria, we have been served Bratwurst with sauerkraut and either mashed or boiled potatoes. Usually there is some assorted mustard and breads on the table to go with the meal. If you are looking for fast food style Bratwurst in either Germany or Austria you can find such a variety of Bratwurst ,depending on the region, just from small cafes or vendors. Oh, and don't forget to try their famous Currywurst, made from pork and seasoned with a sauce made of ketchup and curry powder.

Every trip we make to Germany and Vienna we always have at least a couple of Bratwurst meals. It's a meal we both enjoy and want on more occasions than just on trips. This is my recreation of this yummy dish, did I mention that it's super easy and fast to make? Well it is just perfect for nights when you don't have a lot of time to cook.

Your ingredients:
Serves 2

1 bag of Sauerkraut ( 500 grams / 17.64 ounces ), drain most of the liquid
6 juniper berries
Pinch of salt
Pinch of black pepper
1 large onion, sliced
Sunflower oil

3 Bratwurst, use as many sausage as you want or each person eats

Mashed or boiled potatoes

1. Slice the onion, in a large frying pan heat about a spoonful of oil and fry the onion until it becomes translucent. Next add the juniper berries and the partially drained sauerkraut, salt and pepper. Stir and combine all the ingredients, cover and leave to cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauerkraut will start to turn golden , this is what you want. Don't allow it to burn , if you need to you can add a little water to prevent the cabbage from sticking to the pan.
2. While the sauerkraut is cooking you can either grill the Bratwurst or cook in in a frying pan with a little bit of oil.

If you want you can also fry some more onion to put on top of the Bratwurst. You could also serve with mashed potatoes or boiled potatoes on the side and mustard. Ah don't forget that beer goes great with this meal, your man will be very pleased :)
Here are a couple of snapshots from two different trips one to Berlin and the other to Vienna. I unfortunately couldn't find a snapshot of Bratwurst with mash potatoes from our trips.


Green Curry Noodle Soup

>> Monday, May 10, 2010

green curry soupI love experimenting with food ! This was the result of one such experiment, an amazing tasting soup! I had no plans to make soup for dinner it just went that way. It all came together when I was cleaning the refrigerator and came across a very small amount of leftover Thai green curry paste I made to use in a fish curry. I grew up in a home where my Mother put all the leftovers , no matter how small, in the refrigerator. Her logic is that some one will get hungry and need a little snack. Her logic was correct someone always ate the leftovers. Growing up like this thought me to not be wasteful and now in my own home I too put all the leftovers in the fridge - no matter how small. So being that the leftover curry paste was not enough to cook another curry or any other big meal I came up with the idea of adding it to or making a soup with it.

I don't know about you but I've never come across green curry soup. I quickly started picturing in my head how to use it as an additional flavor to a light soup to serve as an appetizer. I don't have exact measurements for you since it was just throwing in a little bit of this and a little bit of that, so I'll be giving you rough estimates. You can experiment with the ingredients to adjust it to your own taste, maybe less spicy or even spicier. I also had 4 small button mushrooms in the refrigerator so I added those too.
Thai green curry soup

Your Ingredients:
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 TBS. soy sauce
1 TBS. fish sauce
Juice from 1 lime
1 tsp ground lemon grass
1 TBS. green curry paste
4 ginger slices
2-3 garlic cloves minced
4 fresh button mushrooms, sliced
Rice noodles, quick cooking
4 cups ( 1 liter) water

fresh cilantro
chopped scallions
lime wedges
sliced red chilies ,optional

1. Fry the garlic, onion and ginger first - once garlic is cooked add curry paste and fry another 3 minutes. Next add ginger and lemon grass powder, mix and cook another 3 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook another 5 minutes.
2. Add water , bouillon cube , soy sauce and fish sauce. Stir to combine/ mix ingredients well. Cook until the mushrooms are completely soft and cooked through about 15 minutes,Or longer to allow flavors to combine better.
3. Right before you are ready to serve the soup add the quick cooking noodles to the soup and boil until the noodles have cooked through 5-8 minutes. You could also cook the noodles separately and add them to the broth right before serving.
curry noodle soup
Serve with fresh chopped cilantro, lime slices , sliced chilies (optional) and chopped scallions.

The soup was tasted so so good it was both spicy and a bit tangy. But it also had a very fresh taste from the fresh cilantro, which I think also helped it feel lighter for warm spring weather. My recipe may sound a bit strange at first but trust me the soup was so good that the main course was ignored until all the soup was gone. I can't wait to make it again soon and I think it will be the main course instead of just an appetizer.
spicy thai soup


Liberation Day Festival, V-E day

>> Sunday, May 9, 2010

The 8Th of May is Liberation day and it is an official holiday that is celebrated by many countries across Europe. To Americans this day is also know as V-E day or Victory Europe day. This day or holiday commemorates May 8Th 1945 ,the day during World War 2 when the allies celebrated the defeat and surrender of the Nazis and the end of the Third Reich. Many people took to the streets to celebrate the end of this horrible war,and to this day it is a day that is still very much remembered by those few still alive and their descendants. This year marked the 65Th anniversary and across Prague, and many other cities across Europe, there were festivals and parades to remember the day. This year I grab my little point and shoot camera and headed to the festival. Here are my shots I hope you enjoy them and I apologize I didn't take more "foodie" shots, everyone was hungry and the lines were long and blocking the food stalls so not many photo opportunities :)

The Czech Flag

There was live traditional folkloric music and dances

Soldiers waiting for their lunch

Grilled Klobasa (sausage)

XXL Palacinky (crepes)

Wild boar

The poor dog was drooling over the Wild Boar

WW2 Field Kitchen ( Klobasa was on the menu)

Waiting for the parade to start

Russian troops marching in!

American MP (military police)

WW2 abacus and extra uniforms

Russian soldiers trying to keep warm

Rations and extra supplies from a Russian soldier's pack.

Pernik (gingerbread) sweets and an assortment of candies.

Z Lasky ( With love)

History is not my best subject to write to you about, even though it does interest me it has never been one of my strongest subjects. Having said that I feel very lucky to live in a place where there is so much history to see and learn. Merely walking out my door I am reminded of all that has happened in this land by the plaques dedicated to their fellow compatriots. It serves as a reminder of all that were shoot down during their struggles and fights against the occupying army. Going to the city center is a historian's paradise. If you are a history buff I highly recommend you make a trip to Prague, this Golden city will amaze you and fill your brain with so much knowledge. Even if you are not a history buff you'll love just looking at the beautiful architecture, enjoy a good hearty Czech meal, or a cold drink while you sit in the middle of Old Town square, or sitting in the historic theater where Mozart debuted Don Giovanni. This magical city of a thousand spires will have you wanting to come for another visit. I am very lucky indeed....


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