Peach & Jalapeno Jam

peach jam3

 

Hello world & Happy Fall, Ya’ll! I can finally celebrate Autumn because the weather is slowly breaking here in N.E OH and according to my calendar, tomorrow (Friday) marks the first official day of fall, heck yeah! Who else really enjoys the fall as much as me!? How can you argue sweaters, boots, leaves crunching beneath your feet, crisp air, picking apples and then turning them into a fresh pie, warm days and cool nights, everything fall scented, fall crafts such as pumpkin painting/carving, bonfires, no bugs or sweat running down your body, goodbye to sunburn and busy nights at work! Fall really is the best season.

For those of you that have missed me, I appreciate your patience in waiting for my next blog post, ya’ll are the best! If you are new to following me, ICYMI: Summers for me working as a banquet captain at a Country Club is very busy. I don’t allow myself a lot of free time to work on cooking at home, crafting, photography and anything else that makes this blog what it is. I tend to disappear every so often because this is only a hobby for me and I only have a small window of free time to do what I love. Thank you to those who do continue to read and follow my blog. You can also follow my facebook page if you are on there as well facebook.com/driven2eat

As I was saying, fall is here and August thru September has the best produce available. -If you haven’t stopped at your local farmers market yet, this is the last week to do it before the season ends! I was lucky enough to make it up in time for the last of the peaches hull. I don’t know how the peaches were for everyone else, but the peaches we had here weren’t all the great 😦 I was disappointed in the lack of sweetness and juice that I expect to have from a peach, they were okay.

When I make breakfast at home, I usually almost always have a toasted English muffin with fresh jam. I had been buying Jam from Amish Country the last few years and haven’t made my way up there in a few months, figured it was time to just make my own anyways. With how easy it is to make jam, there’s no excuse whey I don’t make it more often! I took a look around the fridge and noticed that a few Jalapenos I had remaining were beginning to do the pruning effect on the outside, so it was time to do something with those as well. I remembered one thing my Aunt always liked to bring to a family dinner, cream cheese topped with pepper jam to spread on crackers for an appetizer. That’s when the light bulb went on in my head to take my leftover peaches and jalapenos and make a jam! The lack of sugar in these peaches actually made them perfect for this recipe. Sweet meets heats for a great spread. Peach and Jalapeno are a great combination together. This recipe also makes an excellent glaze on pork or fish for a finishing touch on dinner!

peach jam

Mise En Place:

  • 3 Large Peaches, Diced
  • 3 Jalapenos, seeds removed, diced
  • 2 Cups Granulated Sugar
  • Juice 1/2 Lime
  • 2 Small Mason Jars for storing

peach jam2

Method of Prep:

  • Mix together peaches, jalapenos, sugar and lime juice until sugar well incorporated. Allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  • Over high heat, add mix into a pan and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and allow to lightly simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Liquid should reduce by half and coat the back of a spoon when ready.
  • Turn off heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  • Pour into Mason jars and cool to room temperature. Seal shut, refrigerate after opening.Β *If jam is cooked too long, it may become gelatinous and hard to spread once cooled. Scoop out what you need for spreading. As jam sits on a warm surface it will begin to melt for easier spreading.Β 

peach jam4

*You may blend the jam at the end if you don’t like the candied chunks of jalapeno that will be left behind.Β 

Advertisements

Avocado Toast

IMG_20180606_110918

Happiness is a fresh seasonal avocado. I’ve met a few people who have mentioned they don’t like Avocado’s…those people cannot be trusted LOL. Avocados this year have been amazing so far, I’m happy it’s finally summer and I can have access to all of the avocados…if only I could get more than 2 for a reasonable price!

Avocados are a stone fruit with a creamy texture that grow in warm climates. Their potential health benefits include improving digestion, help in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and are a very nutrient rich fruit with beneficial fats to keep you full and satiated. With an impressive list of health benefits, I don’t comprehend how anyone could say they are gross. Avocados are versatile and one of the freshest ingredients to work with in summer dishes. They make a great alternative to mayonaise and butter in many recipes, even dessert! I propose if you are one of the many people who don’t appreciate a fresh avocado, to eat least try it in this recipe listed below. Add a little salt & pepper, maybe some juice from a lime or lemon, give it a good stir and they try again. Avocados might just guac your world.

This recipe is a trend showing up on many menus around the country. I’m certain Avocado Toast is nothing new for you to get excited about. These are just (3) ways I love my avocado Toast. Do you have any suggestions of a good avocado toast pairing? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Avocado Toast with Fresh Strawberries and Balsamic Reduction:

IMG_20180220_093227

Mise en Place:

  • 1/2 Avocado
  • 2 Slices of Bread, Toasted (I use Whole Wheat, or English Muffins)
  • 4 Strawberries, Sliced
  • Balsamic Reduction, to drizzle on top
  • S&P, TT
  • Fresh Mint leaves, optional

Method of Prep:

  • Cut avocado in half, remove from skin and add to a bowl. Season with salt & pepper. Using a fork, mash, then spread on toast. Top with strawberries. Drizzle with a little balsamic. Top with fresh picked mint.
  • Enjoy!

Southwest Avocado Toast:

IMG_20180221_112241

Mise en Place:

  • 1/2 Avocado, sliced
  • 2 Slices of Bread, Toasted
  • 2 Eggs, over medium
  • 2 Tablespoons Chunky Salsa or Pico
  • S&P, TT

Method of Prep:

  • Add sliced avocado to toast. Season with S&P. Top with over medium egg. Garnish with salsa.
  • Enjoy!

Smashed Avocado with Hard Boiled Egg:

IMG_20180606_111310

Mise en Place:

  • 1/2 Avocado, Smashed
  • 1 hard boiled egg, sliced
  • 2 Slices bread, Toasted
  • Hot sauce, optional

Method of Prep:

  • Remove avocado from shell, mash with salt and pepper. Spread on toast. Top with Hard boiled egg. Garnish with hot sauce.
  • Enjoy!

**Not pictured: Avocado Toast with Crab dip

  • Same process as above, just top sliced avocado with fresh lump crab or a seafood crab dip.

 

Sweet Chili & Soy Tofu Vegetable Bowl

IMG_20180311_213937

This is a great recipe for anyone who is also following a low carb regime. I started the keto diet for Lent, in hopes of being able to fast myself from drinking alcohol, and eating sweets. Two things that make up a large part of what I consume on a daily basis (so much for a healthy lifestyle, huh?)Β  I just did a weigh in last week and have lost 5 pounds in 1 month! That’s pretty exciting to me considering I haven’t been to the gym since early December. An unfortunate injury to my tailbone from slipping on ice a few weeks ago has kept me from being able to work out. I’m hoping the bruising will heal soon so I can get back into my fitness routine. 2018 has been off to a rocky start with my health. I started it sick with bronchitisΒ  for all of January into early February and then right when my strength had come back, during an early morning walk with the dog, I slipped very hard on the ice and slammed flat on my tailbone causing severe bruising which is still healing 3 weeks later. I heard rumors that the keto diet is an easy way to lose weight without having to workout. So I figured, if I cant go to the gym to lose weight, I’ll have to sacrifice some of my favorite things for 40 days to see if this diet actually works, and we’ll go from there.Β 

As you may have read, I recently adopted the pescatarian diet (Vegetarian including the source of fish or other seafood as protein) I will however still eat small bites of meat on the rare occasions like a tasting menu at work or my husband and I are at a restaurant known for their food. I’m not super strict or hardcore about this change, I just chose to eat less animal fats and focus more on healthier alternatives for personal reasons. During this change, I have been eating more vegan “meat alternatives”, a ton of seafood, lots of vegetables, berries, whole grains and soy products such as tofu. You may see a lot of tofu recipes on here but that’s because I happen to enjoy cooking and eating it.

This recipe takes my favorite Asian flavors of soy, and sweet chili sauce to coat the tofu and lay on top a bed of sauteed vegetables with garlic and sesame oil. If you enjoy Asian cuisine, I’m sure you’ll love this recipe. Feel free to substitute Chicken or another protein of your choice if Tofu isn’t your cup of tea πŸ˜‰

IMG_20180311_213745

Prep Time: 30 Minutes

Cook Time: 15 Minutes

Total Time: 45 Minutes

Mise En Place:

  • 1 Pack Firm Tofu (Pressed to remove liquid, cut into bite size chunks)
  • 1 bag of Frozen vegetable Medley of choice (you may use fresh vegetables if you prefer)
  • 1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
  • 1 Cup Raw Spinach
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • S&P, TT

For the Sauce:

  • 1/3 Cup Soy Sauce
  • 1/3 Cup Sweet Chili Sauce ( I used Mae Ploy)
  • 1/3 Cup Honey

Method of Prep:

  • In a saute pan over medium high heat, generously oil pan with vegetable oil. Add in tofu cubes and sear on each side 4 minutes or until golden brown all around.
  • As tofu is cooking, in a small sauce pot, whisk together all ingredients for sauce over medium heat until well combined. Bring to a boil and adjust heat to low. Allow liquid to simmer and reduce for 20 minutes. Taste and adjust to your liking. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Once tofu is browned on all sides, remove from pan and place on a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up the oil.
  • Using the same saute pan, over medium heat, oil the pan again then add frozen veggies and minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until hot and vegetables are cooked through. Finish with sesame oil.
  • Dump vegetables into serving bowl. Top with spinach, allowing the steam from hot vegetables to lightly cook the spinach. Stir to combine.
  • Place saute pan back over medium heat, add in tofu and half the sweet chili sauce. Toss together until tofu is well coated and hot again. Pour onto bed of vegetables and spinach. Serve immediately. (Add extra sauce if you choose)
  • Enjoy! *Can Also be served with rice

IMG_20180311_213902

Buffalo Tofu

buffalo tofu

Hot sauce is one of my beloved addition to food. I like the added heat it gives the meal furthermore, the acidity from the vinegar based condiment gives the flavor an extra pop.

My love for Buffalo sauce has expanded beyond the chicken wing. Now that I have cut meat from my diet, I have begun experimenting more with vegetarian and vegan friendly alternatives for protein. I’ve always enjoyed Tofu, yet for some folks, these bean curd blocks can be an acquired taste.

I’ve tossed buffalo in vegetables such as cauliflower and the outcome was still delicious! I wasn’t sure what to expect when using Tofu, but the conclusion showed fine results. This recipe combines my love for both blue cheese and hot sauce. Only change from the classic buffalo wing is I am using vegetarian friendly proteins πŸ™‚ Omnivores, please feel free to still use this recipe with the protein of your choice πŸ˜‰

Buffalo tofu2

Mise En Place:

  • (1) Package Firm Tofu
  • Buffalo Sauce
  • (1) Cup Broccoli, Roasted
  • (2) Tablespoons Blue Cheese Dressing
  • (1) Tablespoon Almond Milk
  • S&P, TT
  • Evoo

Method Of Prep:

  • Drain liquid from the Tofu package and press for 30 minutes or until moisture has been released (Place block in between 2 kitchen towels to soak up excess liquid. Place a bowl or something heavy on top to “press” the moisture out of the tofu.)
  • Cut up broccoli into bite size florets. Toss in 1 Tablespoon of EVOO and season with salt and pepper until well coated. Place in the oven on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until broccoli is well roasted. (You’re looking for lightly blackened edges)
  • Cut Tofu into size & shapes of your choice (cubes or planks). Season both sides with Salt & Pepper.
  • Heat up a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 Tablespoons of EVOO to pan. Place enough Tofu to cover the skillet. Sear for 4 minutes or until golden brown. Turn over and sear an additional 4 minutes. Continue for all sides of the Tofu (4 total, no including the front & back edges)
  • Allow tofu to rest on top of (2) paper towels to soak up oil.
  • Once broccoli is roasted, toss in blue cheese sauce.
  • Once Tofu is all roasted, toss in Buffalo sauce to coat.
  • Serve & enjoy!

Buffalo Sauce:

  • (5) Tablespoons Butter
  • (3) Ounces Hot Sauce

 

  • Melt butter in a sauce pot over medium low heat. Whisk in hot sauce until well incorporated. (If sauce begins to break, pull off of the heat, continue whisking until blended)

Blue Cheese Sauce:

  • Mix ingredients together in a bowl until well blended. (Add more milk for a thinner sauce, more dressing for thicker)

Buffalo tofu3

Homemade Fajita Seasoning

fajitas2

I’ve been in the hospitality industry for over 10 years now. I started in the back of the house ( kitchen) as a line cook and moved my way into the front of the house (dining room) as a banquet captain where I continue to grow in my career as a hospitality professional.

As a Chef, the greatest question I was asked, was what’s your favorite thing to cook? Β I’ve always had a passion for ethnic cuisine particularly Indian and Thai. I’ve become proficient in learning to cook the above regions, however those styles of food require a great deal more prep time, and ingredients into each dish. Leading to the decision of looking for a meal to prepare in 30 minutes or less, i.e Tacos.

I would say at least 70% of my diet revolves around tacos, chips & salsa (Tex-Mex) followed by the other 30% of rice based dishes in Indian, Thai and even Chinese cuisine given the time and cash money needed to prepare the more complicated recipes. I’ve always said the ways to my heart are as follows: 1.) Buy me tacos 2.) Make me tacos 3.) Be tacos. I guess you could say I’m basic! My all time favorite taco would have to be blackened Mahi Mahi but seems that I live in Ohio and can’t get the good fresh Mahi I was spoiled with having access to in South Florida, I’m going to settle with Skirt Steak tacos, which lead me to this recipe of {Steak} fajitas. I’m a firm believer that the best food is made from the ingredients that go into the dish starting with the seasonings. I’ve developed a recipe for a [common] fajita seasoning to first rub onto your steak and let sit for a minimum of 1 hour before grilling and making into a taco. Please feel free to adjust the measurements to your liking, I went a little heavier on cumin & paprika based on my taste liking. I find the best way to test your seasoning before rubbing it onto the final product is to take a very tiny spoonful to taste. From there you should be able to decide what you may need to add more of.

fajitas3

Mise en Place:

  • 1 LB Skirt Steak
  • Tortillas of choice
  • Fajita toppings of Choice (Sour Cream, Shredded Cheese, Diced Tomatoes, Guacamole, etc
  • 1 Lime, cut into wedges
  • 1 Teaspoon Olive Oil

For the Seasoning:

  • 1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Hungarian Paprika (Smoked works wells too!)
  • 2 Teaspoons Chili Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Cumin

Chimichurri Sauce:

  • 1/2 Bundle Cilantro removed from the stems
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
  • S&P, TT

fajitas4

Method of Prep:

  • Mix all spices into a small bowl until well incorporated. Taste and adjust if needed.
  • Place raw skirt steak into a large bowl. Rub well with seasoning mix on both sides. cover and chill in refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour up to 1 day.
  • For the Sauce:Β Add all ingredients into a vita mix (blender) and blend until mixed well, approximately 2 minutes on a lower speed, Set aside.
  • Add olive oil into bowl and rub over coated steak.
  • Toss steak onto a hot grill or sear in a pan over medium heat for 3 minutes on each side.
  • Allow meat to rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes before slicing.
  • Cut across the grain and serve in flour or corn tortilla shells. Add toppings of choice and garnish with chimichurri sauce.
  • Enjoy!

fajitas