TURKEY STIR-FRY WITH ALMOND BUTTER

I was not going to blog on this recipe, since it was one of those improvised things, quickly assembled for lunch on a weekday. But I tasted a spoonful straight from the saute pan, and the “Must-Blog-This” alarm went off, loud and persistent. I quickly transferred some to a serving bowl  to be immortalized on camera. The almond butter takes this simple stir-fry to a higher level of deliciousness. Amounts for the recipe are pretty flexible, I was just using stuff that I had in the fridge so you can go with the flow and add a bit more of this, a bit less of that.  If you care about this type of info, this concoction would be low-carb and also Paleo-friendly. But what I really care about is that it is mighty tasty.

 

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TURKEY STIR-FRY WITH ALMOND BUTTER
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1 pound ground turkey (preferably not super lean)
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons almond butter (a must!)
5 ounces baby spinach, coarsely chopped
fresh lemon juice

Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the mushrooms, season with a little salt and pepper, saute for about 5 minutes.  Add the ground meat, Aleppo pepper, a little more salt and regular pepper, cook moving it around every once in a while, until the meat is golden brown.  Add the almond butter, incorporate well, keeping the pan in medium-heat.

Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Right before serving, squirt some lemon juice all over the meat. Adjust seasoning if needed.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

served
Comments: I’ve mentioned many times I was a picky eater as a child. Very. One of my favorite things to eat was ground beef and rice, which Mom called “picadinho.” Ground beef and rice. I know, so exciting, right? One summer we were all in my Grandma’s home in São Sebastião, a beach town between São Paulo and Rio, and my Aunt Sônia was getting ready to feed her three very spoiled Siamese cats.  She cooked a big batch of ground beef and rice for them, and I was fascinated! Those cats were very lucky to get my favorite food on a daily basis.  From then on, whenever Mom would make me “picadinho“, both me and my Dad would call it “comida de gato” (Portuguese for cat’s food). I was actually complimenting her cooking, I suppose Dad was more in his usual teasing mode. Good times. Decades passed by, but ground meat (chicken, pork, beef) is still something I resort to often for my lunch, although usually with additions that would make my younger self leave the table screaming in horror. When I make some, I always ask Phil  “would you like some comida de gato?”  It is blatantly clear that I am a lovely wife…

Wanna say it like a native? Click

Turkey Stir-fry with Almond Butter, from Bewitching Kitchen

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THREE YEARS AGO: Tlayuda, a Mexican Pizza

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TOMATO AND CUCUMBER SALAD WITH ALMOND VINAIGRETTE

The salads we make at home are so simple that they never make it to the blog.  A little bit of slicing and dicing, a drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and nothing else. But this recipe from a recent issue of  Food and Wine, is definitely worth talking about. I had never sautéed nuts to add flavor to a vinaigrette, and was amazed by the outcome. I adapted the original recipe to include Neo, the single cucumber  produced in our backyard. You know, The One. We are good at biochemistry, my friends. Or so we hope. Gardening? Not so much…

tomato almond

TOMATO AND CUCUMBER SALAD WITH ALMOND VINAIGRETTE
(adapted from Food and Wine magazine)

Heirloom tomatoes, sliced thin
yellow cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Cucumbers, sliced thin
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon agave nectar
salt and pepper to taste
fresh basil, in chiffonade

In a medium skillet, cook the almonds in the oil over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about
 7 minutes. Strain the oil through a fine sieve into a heatproof bowl; reserve the almonds for the salad. Immediately whisk in the vinegar, lime juice and agave nectar. Season the dressing with salt and pepper. Allow it to cool to close to room temperature.

Spread the tomato and cucumber slices on a large baking sheet lined with paper towels. Season with salt and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.  On a serving platter, scatter half of the almonds 
and top them with 
the tomato and cucumber slices. Drizzle with the dressing and top with the remaining almonds and fresh basil.  Serve right away. 

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The first adjective that came to my mind when I tasted the salad was “intense.”  The toasted almond flavor permeating through the oil is a real game-changer. Other nuts could be used instead. Consider  a macadamia, pistachio, perhaps a hazelnut version. I must make it again soon to profit from summer tomatoes, still so juicy and delicious. Not much hope for another homegrown cucumber, but there’s always next year…  Next time I will slice the cucumber a bit thinner. Other than that, it is a winner.  If you check the original recipe in Food and Wine, you’ll notice it called for several types of fresh herbs, but I only had basil around, so that’s what went into it.  I already feel the sadness of summer leaving us. Might as well make batches of tomato salad while we can. With a tissue nearby in case I get too emotional…

Tomato Cucumber Salad with Almond Vinaigrette, Bewitching Kitchen

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ONE YEAR AGO: Eggplant Tomato Stacks

TWO YEARS AGO: The Couscous that Wasn’t

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SEVEN YEARS AGO: Friday Night Dinner

 

 

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THE FABULOUS THREE

Bogey1
For four long years we had to deal with serious dog aggression issues between Buck and Chief. Serious as: if left alone Chief would get killed by Buck. Simple like that. It was a huge challenge to keep it all under control for such a long time, and for obvious reasons we were worried about bringing Bogey, an adult, strong-willed dalmatian to our home. After getting advice from our friend Cindy and also reading a lot of stuff online, we planned our strategy. Phil would pick up the dogs at the kennel, I would stay with Bogey in the house.  When he arrived, we would take first Oscar and Bogey for a walk together. I would be outside the house (neutral territory) with Bogey on a leash, Phil would bring Oscar with him, also on a leash.  We would go up and down the street, then release them in the backyard.  Let them be there for a while, then do the same with Buck (the problem child) and Bogey.  I cannot tell you how nervous and anxious I was. First thing that happened, Oscar and Bogey snapped at each other. Not too bad, but that was their first hello, and my world seemed to collapse a little. Phil did not let that bother him, decided it was a normal reaction and we should follow with our plans. Soon they started sniffing each other’s behinds, and apparently they liked what they sniffed. They hung out together in the backyard, no issues.

walk

Then, with my heart racing, we did the same with Buck, and there were two pretty serious snapping episodes from Buck, matched with a scary growl, but then he calmed down.  I was so anxious that I could not witness the release of the beasts in the backyard. I was sure it was going to end in a horrible dog fight. Well, I was wrong. They were totally fine!  Next step was to have the three together outside, and you can see for yourself how it went:

 .

Here’s the amazing turn of events: Buck behaves like a pot of honey, whereas the one causing a bit of trouble is Oscar, very jealous of me. He is always following Bogey and showing his displeasure for him being around.  He lies on Bogey’s bed the moment Bogey stands up and leaves his spot, grabs his toys and takes them away, just like a spoiled brat. Yeah, that’s our Oscar.  But he is not a fool and knows not to pick a fight with a dog who outweighs him by more than 40 pounds. So we turned a big page and life should slowly get back into a new routine.  Bogey has a lot of adjustment to go through. He was used to sleeping in a bed cuddling with his Mom, he was always inside staring at the window and furiously barking at passing cars and dogs…  Now he will be part of The Pack of the Fabulous Three.  I thank my friend Elaine for the term, by the way, although truth be told, her real term was “The Fabulous Five.”  Is she super nice or what?

😉

 

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ONE YEAR AGO: Turkey-Chorizo Burger with Green Chile Dressing

TWO YEARS AGO: Taco Salad

THREE YEARS AGO: Semolina Sourdough Boule 

FOUR YEARS AGO: Forgive me, for I have sinned

FIVE YEARS AGOCracked Wheat Sandwich Bread

SIX YEARS AGO:  Au Revoir, my Bewitching Kitchen

SEVEN YEARS AGO:  French Bread

BLOGGING HIATUS

I am taking a break from the blogosphere due to the unexpected death of my sister-in-law. We are in Portland, and will head home later this week in a long drive taking a new member to join our family. Meet Bogey, a 6-and-a-half year old Dalmatian, full of energy, and very sweet. We cross our fingers for a smooth adjustment to his new life. He’s been through a rough time.

Bogey

 

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RIO OLYMPICS 2016: A GOLD MEDAL MENU

Corcovado_statue01_2005-03-14By Klaus with K – CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1970179

Olympic games are going at full speed, these are two exciting weeks! So much to follow, we tend to stay up late trying to catch up with the events we enjoy the most: swimming, running, track and field, synchronized diving, gymnastics, volleyball, beach volleyball, soccer, and this time even golf  is keeping us glued to the TV screen… Three words for you: Simone Biles rocks. 

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In this post I share a full menu with Brazilian goodies published in previous years, but first I offer a new take on Shrimp Moqueca, adapted in honor of the games.

 

ShrimpMoquecaGolden

SALLY’S GOLDEN SHRIMP MOQUECA
(from Bewitching Kitchen)

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons coconut oil (or dendê oil, if available)
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Serrano pepper, minced
salt and pepper
roasted bell pepper, cut in large squares (preferably yellow)
2 cans (15 ounce) yellow tomatoes, drained, briefly processed in blender
a lot of cilantro (a lot)
about 1/2 cup coconut milk (full fat, please)
lemon juice to taste
hot sauce to taste

Squirt a little lemon juice all over the shrimp and reserve.

Heat the coconut oil in a large saute pan with a lid. Add the onions and cook until golden and fragrant. Add the Serrano pepper and roasted bell pepper, cook for a couple of minutes, stirring often.  Add the garlic, cook for about 30 seconds, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper. Now pour the processed yellow tomatoes, season with salt, pepper, a dash or two of the hot sauce of your choice. Cover the pan and let it all simmer for about 10 minutes in very low heat.

Add the shrimp, simmer until cooked, just for a few minutes, then add coconut milk and cilantro to the pan, stirring until warm. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and more hot sauce to taste.  If you’d like, sprinkle fresh lemon juice right before serving. Perfect over white rice.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

If you don’t have canned yellow tomatoes, use red.  I like to process them to have a smoother sauce. Yellow bell peppers would reinforce the golden color of the dish, but our store did not have any this time.

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A BRAZILIAN MENU TO CELEBRATE THE OLYMPIC GAMES

Let’s get a trio of appetizers going, starting with Pão de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread).  This is a very easy recipe using a blender and a few minutes of your time. If you’ve never had Pão de Queijo, don’t blink. Make them right now!  They were born gluten-free, which is an added bonus to many.

cheesebread12

For the recipe, click follow this link.

Another great, traditional option,  Pastéis (a bit like empanadas, but fried).

pasteis1

for the recipe, follow this link.

And perhaps my favorite, the one that gets the Golden Medal of Appetizers,
Mandioca Frita (Fried Yucca Root)

mandiocafrita1For the recipe, follow this link. 

To serve with the Golden Moqueca I recommend basic white rice and a nice helping of Brazilian Farofa, to help soak up the flavorful tomato-coconut sauce.

farofa

For the recipe, follow this link.

 

You definitely need the Brazilian national drink to get into the Olympic spirit!

caipirinha1

recipe for Caipirinhas can be found here.

Finally, for dessert, let’s share a triple round of goodies, starting with Brigadeiros,
because how could you not have brigadeiros during a Brazilian feast?

ready12

For the recipe, click here

But it’s hard to beat the level of deliciousness of Cocada de Forno (Baked Coconut)

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to get the recipe for Cocada de Forno, jump here.

 

And perhaps my favorite of all, as Brazilian as Brazilian gets, Mangas Flambadas, served  comme il faut, with vanilla ice cream (but if you use Dulce de Leche it won’t hurt my feelings at all).

mango2

For the recipe, click here.

Top the meal with what my Dad used to call um cafezinho esperto (a smart coffee), and dream with Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals around the neck of your favorite athletes.
Let’s keep in mind that medals are great but the effort each athlete puts into being there to compete, that’s what impresses me the most. Imagine the personal ordeals they go through to finally be part of the Olympic team.  Commitment, hard work, mental and physical struggles most of us could never face.

Quoting a great phrase from an advertisement for Under Armour: 

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Watch the video in full here. It is moving, truly mesmerizing.

Golden Shrimp Moqueca, from Bewitching Kitchen

ONE YEAR AGO: Tomato Tatin

TWO YEARS AGO: Headed to Colorado! 

THREE YEARS AGO: Farofa Brasileira

FOUR  YEARS AGO: Thai-Inspired Pork Tenderloin

FIVE YEARS AGO: A yummy Brazilian cake: Bolo de Fuba’

SIX YEARS AGO:  Summer’s Tomatoes

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Leaving on a jet plane… 

RIO2016

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POST-WORKOUT CHIA YOGURT BLISS

After blogging for more than seven years, every once in a while I wonder if I could be repeating myself?  Have I mentioned this before?  Have I said this in the past? Of course, a search in my own site could be helpful, but I prefer to go with the flow, if a thought crosses my mind and seems relevant enough, it becomes printed material.  So, if you’ve read before that I was probably the last person to join the Chia Seed Cheerleading Department, here I go with the encore. Truth is, the more I have it, the more I like it. They are gelatinous in nature, a bit slippery even, so if you have issues with some types of texture, they could be challenging for your taste bus. This texture thing bothered me at first, then a little less, and now I find chia seeds playful, fun, happy little beings. In this picture, you can see three variations of chia-yogurt concoctions that I like to have after working out.

compositeChia

 

CHIA-YOGURT BOWL OF BLISS

Basic mixture:

1/2 cup yogurt (full-fat)

1 heaping tablespoon chia seeds

1/8 cup of coconut milk, almond milk, or cashew milk

Optional additions:

Sweetener (agave, honey, brown sugar, date syrup)

Matcha powder

Mix it all together and leave in the fridge at least one hour, but overnight is best.

When ready to enjoy it, add the toppings of your choice. My favorites are toasted shredded coconut, toasted slivered almonds with a bit of cinnamon, toasted walnuts, blueberries, raspberries, diced apricots. I also love a little sprinkle of cocoa nibs. Every time I make it a little different, every time I tell myself I should make this exact version again “because this one is a winner.”   What can I say? I am easily amused.

to print the basic “recipe” click here

Something about this mixture of yogurt with chia seeds is quite satisfying after working out. During the week, I exercise before lunch or dinner, but on Saturdays and Sundays I really look forward to these little chia bowls. I make sure to get my basic mixture ready in the fridge the night before.  I once tried using store-bought blended yogurt with fruit, but decided it was too sweet for my taste. Full disclosure: very soon I will experiment with a different type of yogurt, a strike of genius from Sue. Take a look at her post, and be ready to be amazed! I can hardly wait to give it a try, but if you do it let me know in the comments (and of course, let Sue know too!).

😉

Chia-Yogurt Post-Workout Breakfast, from Bewitching Kitchen
ONE YEAR AGO: Tomato Tatin

TWO YEARS AGO: Best Thing I Ever Made: Chocolate Chip Cookies

THREE YEARS AGO: Farofa Brasileira

FOUR YEARS AGO: Thai-Inspired Pork Tenderloin

FIVE YEARS AGO: A yummy Brazilian cake: Bolo de Fuba’

SIX YEARS AGO:  Summer’s Tomatoes

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Leaving on a jet plane… 

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STIR-FRIED CHICKEN AND CABBAGE WITH SPICY ALMOND SAUCE

This is by far my favorite type of lunch. A lot of protein in a flavorful, spicy preparation, with some veggies to make things more interesting. The inspiration came from this post by Lydia, hostess of The Perfect Pantry. I substituted ground chicken for beef, almonds for peanuts, but the basic idea was unchanged. Of course you can take this simple method in countless directions, adding green beans, sautéed corn kernels if you’d like a bit more carbs, sautéed spinach, chickpeas, use cashew butter, sprinkle toasted cashews at the end. I adore this type of recipe!

GroundChickenStirFry

 

STIR-FRIED CHICKEN AND CABBAGE IN SPICY ALMOND SAUCE
(modified from The Perfect Pantry)

3 Tbsp almond butter
3 Tbsp coconut aminos  (or soy sauce)
1 Tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp Sriracha sauce, or more to taste
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 lb ground chicken
1 shallot, thinly sliced
12 oz shredded cabbage
1/4 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
salt and pepper to taste

In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, beat together the almond butter, coconut aminos, agave, rice vinegar and Sriracha until the mixture is smooth. If too thick, loosen it a bit with water.  In a large skillet or wok, heat the coconut oil (or another fat of your choice), then saute the shallots until translucent, add the ground chicken and cook until  golden. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Pour in the almond butter mixture, and stir to combine with the meat.  Add the shredded cabbage and slivered almonds, and cook for 30 seconds or until the cabbage wilts slightly, but does not soften completely.

Serve with additional Sriracha sauce.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

served

Comments: Stir-fries using ground meat are not  eye-candy, I admit it. But this concoction is so flavorful, I hope you’ll overcome its looks and give it a try. The picture above was from my third day in a row enjoying it for lunch with leftover roasted butternut squash. Instead of more Sriracha sauce I drizzled Gochujang all over it. Wonderful things happen when Sriracha meets Gochujang. Clearly, it’s a Batman and Robin thing.

Chicken Stir-fry with Spicy Almond Sauce, from Bewitching Kitchen

ONE YEAR AGO: Fifteen Years!

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THREE YEARS AGO: Sourdough Blues

FOUR  YEARS AGO: Headed to Hawaii

FIVE YEARS AGO: A yummy Brazilian cake: Bolo de Fuba’

SIX YEARS AGO:  Hidden Treasure

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Avocado Three Ways