Sunday, 28 April 2013

Product Review: Jell-O No Bake Cheesecake

Sometimes, we just don't have the time or energy or to make a dessert from scratch, especially something like cheesecake, or sometimes we just don't really know how. Maybe we need a dessert in a hurry, something that will impress, but something that isn't too complicated or time consuming. You can never fail with cheesecake; that's a fact! Well, actually, that's the more common belief. Unfortunately, I've never been a big cheesecake fan. Most cheesecakes I simply will not eat and few others are tolerable. I've made my own before, and I must admit, I enjoyed it thoroughly. That's the thing about a lot of foods I have tried before: I never really enjoyed them until I made them myself. It might sound weird or silly, but it's true. Back to the topic on hand...
A cheesecake here (in Trinidad), 8" and above goes for TT$100.00 and up. Some people don't always want to spend that money, some can't. The Jell-O No Bake Real Cheesecake Dessert goes for TT$25.00 or less for the smaller box, and less than TT$50.00 for the large box.

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The awesome thing about this is that it's easy to personalize and it tastes great. I topped mine with caramel. (I wanted to mix in chocolate chips but I had no minis.) It takes minutes to mix and just an hour to set. It can stay in the refrigerator for days, so it's a great make ahead dessert. You can add/top it with fruit, chocolate, caramel, jelly... anything you desire. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.

Here's a few awesome posts of recipes using this product:

Thursday, 18 April 2013

You Are What You Eat

How cute and clever is this post on http://www.buzzfeed.com/
It's a little compilation of food quotes that they love!
I love pasta, as everyone knows, so I shared these. Check out the link for the original post!



Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Yeast Phobia

Recently, my sister tried using yeast for the first time. It seems that quite a lot of people are intimidated by yeast, or were at some point. But once you have a proper recipe, and you follow instructions right, it's a breeze! It's not that difficult to use, and oh the possibilities! So many things you always bought because you didn't know you could so easily make yourself: bread, bagels, donuts, pizza! When she discovered it, she realized how easy it actually is to use, and she got a little overexcited and started baking every day. It's okay though, there's nothing like freshly baked bread right out of the oven! According to her, it's intoxicating!
Here's a pizza she made:




The crust was thin and crispy (how she likes it), and quite flavourful. This crust is one you definitely won't throw out. It was topped with homemade pesto (instead of tomato sauce), bacon, artichokes, fresh basil and a combination of mozzarella, cheddar and parmesan. I'll be asking her to share her recipe soon!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Kitchen Essentials: Pumpkin

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The thing about pumpkin is, especially in Trinidad, we don't always know what to do with it. We think our options are often so limited, mostly because we have this particular perception of pumpkin, or a stereotype of it, and we are not adventurous enough to try it in a different way. A lot of us know pumpkin as a food option on a "curry" plate or to use in soup, or recipes that it's not a main ingredient. We often overshadow that which is the fabulous pumpkin, because we don't see or appreciate it's greatness (and diversity). If you use pumpkin in other ways, and really use it, you will be surprised at the outcome.

Pumpkin in History
The word pumpkin originated from the Greek word Pep├Án which means large melon. The word gradually morphed by the French, English and then Americans into the word "pumpkin." Pumpkins and squash are believed to have originated in the ancient Americas. These early pumpkins were not the traditional round orange upright Jack-O-Lantern fruit we think of today when you hear the word pumpkin. They were a crooked neck variety which stored well. Archeologists have determined that variations of squash and pumpkins were cultivated along river and creek banks along with sunflowers and beans. This took place long before the emergence of maize (corn). After maize was introduced, ancient farmers learned to grow squash with maize and beans using the "Three Sisters" tradition. (source)

Let me give you a couple of reasons to head to the grocery/vegetable mart:
  • It's cheap. Pumpkins are often sold by the pound, in pieces. If you want whole pumpkins, you can find that too. Usually you'd get that from the trucks that sell them straight from the garden. However, when cooked down, you can get about 1-2 cups of pumpkin puree from a piece of pumpkin sold for approximately TT$5.00 (less than US$1.00).
  • It grows well. You can have organic pumpkin for even cheaper if you grow it yourself. And they are pretty tolerant in different types of weather, so it's even better.
  • It freezes well. Freezing pumpkin is good for a number of reasons. It will stay for a while in the freezer and you will always have some available. When you freeze pumpkin, it thaws soft, and can be made into a puree without cooking. So that's less time and energy for you!
  • It's quick (and easy)! Especially if you use thawed (frozen) pumpkin, it's very fast to prepare. Pumpkin is full of its own unique flavour so it's easy to cook with minimal ingredients.
  • Diversity! If you're willing to be a little adventurous, there are many ways to prepare pumpkin that you may be able to manipulate to your liking. Just try it!
  • Even the seeds are edible!
  • It's healthy. Come on, it's a vegetable! Or fruit! However you want to classify it, it's good for you!
Check out this CNN video of the health benefits of pumpkin as well as a recipe!


Here's a few lovely recipes I've found using pumpkin, that I'm sure you'd love!
  1. Allrecipes.com Pumpkin Bread - This is an honestly fabulous recipe for pumpkin bread from Allrecipes.com's user Laurie Bennett. It has over 6,000 five-star ratings, which is well deserved. Try it, it's a great alternative to the more traditional "sweet bread" we enjoy in this country.
  2. Paula Deen's Pumpkin Pie - You know this lady would not lead you astray! 
  3. Spicy Pumpkin Pasta - This pasta was my inspiration to try my own. I have made pumpkin pasta time and time again since the first, and I never get tired of it. It's definitely one of my favourite quick-and-easy go-to meals! (I shall post a recipe soon for my version of pumpkin pasta [including alternatives].)
  4. Pumpkin Soup - It's a classic, right? There are so many wonderful variations, you should try as many as you can. Pumpkin soup with some toast, or even a grilled cheese sandwich? Yum!
  5. Pumpkin Coconut Curry (with Chicken) - "Curry" sort of pumpkin, but not nearly the same as we're used to. Try something new!
  6. Pumpkin Chili - I kid you not.
  7. Pumpkin Pie Martini - It isn't only for chewing, you know.

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I won't lie to you... Pumpkins are too fabulous to leave behind. Go get some!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Evening Thanksgiving

In Trinidad, we all love curry. We can't get enough of it. And everyone loves a little (what we call) "prayers food" or "curry". Last Saturday, my family had a Thanksgiving for my dad, for his health, strength and all his good fortune, as well as ours. My family follows Hinduism (not strictly), and we do not serve meat at Hindu Prayers/Thanksgiving.
I've always been the "channa and aloo" only type with salad and bit of "mother-in-law" (pepper salad), but I decided to try some other things this time. But, nothing really hits the spot like a big plate of channa and aloo with mother-in-law and roti. I just love my salad, so I eat about twice as much salad as anything else on my plate.

Channa & Aloo, Pumpkin, Bhagi, Curried Mango, Mother-in-Law, Fresh Salad

ROTI!!!

Mother-in-Law

Always remember to be grateful and show appreciation for everything you have, whether it be to family, friends or God.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Kitty-sitting For Easter

Last weekend, the Easter weekend, besides indulging in the lovely brunch, I had an exceptional weekend with a new friend. I was sitting for the weekend and it was brilliant. I really just instantly fell in love with this cat, and I miss him now that's he's gone. He was so loving, well-behaved and clean!


I loved the way he loved to cuddle to sleep. He was really great.


And curious.




Everyone in my family fell in love with him, actually. I hope he's all snuggled in and having a great night.



This is one of my favourites, even though I did not have my camera at the time and ended up taking it with my phone.


I miss you, Kitteh!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Easter Sunday Brunch at Jaffa

Last Sunday (Easter Sunday), I went to brunch at Jaffa [at the Oval] for the first time. I mention "for the first time" particularly because I intend on going back. I was unable to get any proper pictures this time, but I will definitely return and take some photos. There's was a wonderful wide variety of things to choose from, both breakfast and lunch options.


Here's a brief description of some of the things included (there was so much, I can't remember it all):

Juice Bar
- Orange
- Fruit Punch
- Mauby
- Iced Tea
- Several Others...

Soup
- Curry Soup

Breads
- Coconut Bake
-Fried Bake
- Sweet Bread
- Several Others...

Omelette Station including numerous add-ins, prepared fresh right before your eyes.

Pancakes with Toppings

Breakfast
- Breakfast Sausages
- Bacon
- Quiche
- Drumettes
- Vegetable Samosas
- Tomato "Choka"
- "Baigan Choka"
- Several Others...

Crackers, numerous cheeses, deli-meat, marinated olives...

Salads and Seafood
- Cole Slaw
- Apple, Celery and Walnut Salad
- Carrot Salad
- Pasta Salad
- Shrimp Cocktail
- Mussels
- Crab Salad
- Several Others...

Lunch
- Roasted Potatoes
- Stir-fried Noodles with Beef
- Mixed Vegetables
- Mahi Mahi
- Curried Chicken
- Cabbage Saute

Carvery
- Stuffed Leg of Lamb
- Roasted Pig

Dessert
- Ice Cream
- Chocolate Mousse
- Caramel Mousse
- Creme Brulee
- Creme Caramel
- Carrot Cake
- Brownies
- Strawberries and Pine with Chocolate Fountain
- Several Others...

The lunch was good, but the breakfast items and dessert were brilliant! The caramel mousse... Mmm. I will definitely be returning to enjoy some more of their breakfast.