Nov 19, 2010

Warm, Stuffed Peaches & Oatmeal Cookie Peach Cobbler

Okay, so I realize I am one gigantic tease right now, dangling delicious peach recipes in front of you when your grocery stores and farmers markets are most likely fresh out. Sadly, our fuzzy friends have been replaced long ago with pumpkins, pears and gourds and won't be returning for quite some time.

So why? Why am I doing this to you? Because I love you. Because I want you to have these amazing peach recipes. And because I know that these dishes are entirely too delicious to be thrown on the back burner until next summer, where they will inevitably get lost in the shuffle of all the new grilled, frosty and tropical treats I'll be touting.

Just promise me you'll flag...bookmark...print...whatever you have to do to assure these recipes are in your hands when peaches are once again within grasp. Promise me that, and I'll promise you a delicious breakfast and dessert.

In my opinion, these stuffed peaches are one of the few bearable ways to start a morning. Who doesn't love waking up to a house filled with autumn spices and a plate of warm, soft peaches? They're stuffed with toasted almonds, graham cracker crumbs, dried fruit, brown sugar and spices, baked, and topped with warm peach nectar and creamy vanilla yogurt. They're packed with nutrition, delicious, elegant and great for company on a chilly fall morning. (Just not too late…ahem....into fall.) 

The only modification I made was to use different dried fruits. The recipe calls for tropical fruit, but I opted for a mix that included cranberries, strawberries, cherries and blueberries. (Delish!) I'm sure whatever mix you have on hand would work as well, even raisins. 

And the cobbler, now my all time favorite (and I’ve had my fare share of Grandma’s homemade cobblers) is super easy and super cute, served in individual ramekins and dolloped with a delicious oatmeal cookie batter. That's cobbler and cookies...topped with ice cream. Three desserts in my very own personal dish? Which means I don’t have to share a single bite because that’s the whole point of the personal dish? Um, yeah, it's my all-time favorite cobbler.

If you simply cannot wait, I suppose you could use canned peaches for the cobbler, (eek!) although I don’t recommend using canned peaches for anything but food drives. I intend to experiment with other fruits myself. Apple cobbler...berry cobbler...I assume they all could benefit from a chewy, spiced oatmeal cookie crust, don't you?

But for the stuffed peaches, well, I’m sorry, you’ll definitely have to wait a bit to taste this heart-warming breakfast. Like I said…I’m a tease.

But I promise…from here on out, it’s all foods that you can not only look at and read about, but also make. Imagine! Isn't that just...ahem...peachy?

Warmed, Stuffed Peaches
Maureen Callahan, Cooking Light, JULY 2006
Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 peach half and 1 tablespoon yogurt)

Note: You can prepare and refrigerate the stuffing before you go to bed, then assemble and bake the peaches in the morning. Enjoy one peach half as a pre or post-workout snack. Or have two stuffed peach halves with an eight-ounce glass of skim milk or one ounce of string cheese for breakfast. The peach halves also are a nice addition to a brunch buffet.

4  peaches, halved and pitted
1/2  cup  dried tropical mixed fruit (such as Sunkist brand)
(I used a mix of dried strawberries, cranberries, blueberries and cherries)
1/4  cup  slivered almonds, toasted
2  tablespoons  graham cracker crumbs
2  tablespoons  brown sugar
1/4  teaspoon  ground allspice
1  (12-ounce) can peach nectar
1/2  cup  vanilla yogurt, divided

Preheat oven to 350°.

Scoop out peach pulp to form a 2-inch circle in center of each half. Reserve pulp, and finely chop. Combine pulp, dried fruit, toasted almonds, graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and allspice. Divide the pulp mixture evenly among peach halves. Place stuffed peach halves in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish. Add nectar to pan. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until peaches are tender. Drizzle peach halves evenly with liquid from pan. Top evenly with yogurt.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 134 (17% from fat), Fat: 2.5g (sat 0.7g,mono 1.3g,poly 0.5g), Protein: 2.2g, Carbohydrate: 27g, Fiber: 2.1g, Cholesterol: 2mg, Iron: 0.5mg, Sodium: 30mg, Calcium: 39mg.

Oatmeal Cookie Peach Cobbler
Cooking Light, JUNE 2009
Yield: 12 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)

Note: You can make this in individual ramekins with one dollop of dough on top of each. The baking time remains the same.


1/2  cup  granulated sugar
1/2  cup  packed brown sugar
1/2  cup  butter, softened
2  teaspoons  vanilla extract
1  large egg
4.5  ounces  all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
1  cup  old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2  teaspoon  baking powder
1/2  teaspoon  salt

11  cups  sliced peeled peaches (about 5 pounds)
1/3  cup  granulated sugar
2  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
2  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare topping, place first 3 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg; beat well. Weigh or lightly spoon 1 cup flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine 1 cup flour, oats, baking powder, and salt; stir with a whisk. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat at low speed until blended. Cover and chill 30 minutes.

To prepare filling, combine sliced peeled peaches, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, and fresh lemon juice in a bowl; toss to coat. Spoon mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Dollop 12 mounds of chilled dough over peach mixture at even intervals. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 307, Fat: 9.1g (sat 5.1g,mono 2.4g,poly 0.7g)
Protein: 4.5g, Carbohydrate: 54.1g, Fiber: 3.8g, Cholesterol: 38mg, Iron: 1.6mg, Sodium:177mg, Calcium: 43mg.

Nov 5, 2010

My Halloween Costume Made You a Snack (Grilled Portobello Burgers)

Today, I’m writing about my Halloween costume for a chance to score a sweet camera from the lovely ladies over at The Secret’s in the Sauce. But instead of just showing you my costume, I thought I’d let my costume do a guest post. 

Meet Rain, a non-conforming, ironic fashion wearing, patchouli-reeking dirty hipster. And her boyfriend, Noah.


i almost didn't agree to do this post because blogging is so mainstream and conformist. but then i thought, blogging from my iphone while sipping a fair trade latte at a nontraditional coffee shop/venue/turtle farm is like, totally deck, so I’ll drop a few lines.

(p.s. i only use lowercase letters because their value is totally underestimated, just like mine. isn't that poetic? shuhhh...)

last night, after the greasy haired girls concert, i was majorly craving something vegan and nontraditional, but I was fresh out of soy chips. good thing my boyfriend noah had some shrooms in his window garden, so we made these.

i love the fact that they're burgers, but there's no burger. so ironic. 

i hear these are like, totally tasty and everything, but I actually didn't eat one. i try to keep to a strict diet of American Spirit cigarettes and brunch. It keeps my skin nice and pasty and helps me grow rainbow colors in my hair. but for all you three-meal-a-day conformists out there, don't worry, this recipe is so easy, you can make it with one hand tied behind your back holding a pabst. 

first, make a marinade with garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and soy. mmm. i had soy sauce last night at a hole-in-the-wall, underground thai joint. yeah, i'm cultured.

while the shrooms are marinating, put the peppers on the grill. make sure they're organic peppers carried in a reusable hemp bag from whole foods or trader joes or I'll shoot judging laser beams your way through my gigantic black-rimmed glasses.

finally, grill the shrooms and the buns and smash it all together. you're done at this point, so it's perfectly cool to burn some incense, put on an indie electrocrap vinyl record and hold a small vigil to remember what you've just gone through. 

oh, and please ignore the non-slr camera pics and the totally traditional food styling on this blog. i wanted to put the burger on the sidewalk, step on it, add some vintage buttons and take an off-centered, de-saturated photo with my Polaroid camera, but Rachel made me use her photos. Such a poser.
I’m out. Noah and I are going to down a few bronsons, then ride to the thrift store on our fixed gear bikes to buy some ironic t-shirts. Peace.

Wow, thanks, Rain. Now, while Ms. Hip didn't try these burgers, I absolutely did and WOW. Simply awesome. My hubby, Noah…err…Luke, inhaled them even though they don’t contain meat, which is pretty much the one requirement for a good burger in his book. 

The mushrooms are super tender and juicy, the red pepper mayo has a wonderful smoky pepper flavor and the onion rolls are THE PERFECT bun for this sandwich. All in all, it's an awesome burger. If it's too chilly to grill, your broiler should work just fine, or a stove-top grill pan.  

or you could just grill outside when it's cold, cause that's nontraditional...shuuhhhh...

Grilled Portobello Burgers with Roasted Red Pepper Mayo
Yield: 4 servings
Bill and Cheryl Jamison, Cooking Light, May 2003

Printable recipe card

Note: Meaty and versatile, marinated portobello mushrooms make great burgers. Half of a roasted bell pepper is stirred into mayonnaise for the sandwich spread. Use the leftover bell pepper as a pizza topping, in salad, or tossed with pasta.

1/4  cup  low-sodium soy sauce
1/4  cup  balsamic vinegar
2  tablespoons  olive oil
3  garlic cloves, minced
4  (4-inch) portobello mushroom caps
1  small red bell pepper
Cooking spray
1/4  cup  low-fat mayonnaise
1/2  teaspoon  olive oil
1/8  teaspoon  ground red pepper
4  (2-ounce) onion sandwich buns
4  (1/4-inch-thick) slices tomato
4  curly leaf lettuce leaves

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag; add mushrooms to bag. Seal and marinate at room temperature for 2 hours, turning bag occasionally. Remove mushrooms from bag; discard marinade.

Prepare grill to medium heat.

Cut bell pepper in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 15 minutes or until blackened, turning occasionally. Place in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 10 minutes. Peel. Reserve 1 pepper half for another use.

Finely chop 1 pepper half; place in a small bowl. Add mayonnaise, 1/2 teaspoon oil, and ground red pepper; stir well.

Place mushrooms, gill sides down, on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side. Place buns, cut sides down, on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 30 seconds on each side or until toasted.

Spread 2 tablespoons mayonnaise mixture on top half of each bun. Place 1 mushroom on bottom half of each bun. Top each mushroom with 1 tomato slice and 1 lettuce leaf; cover with top halves of buns.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 251 (30% from fat), Fat: 8.4g (sat 2.3g,mono 3.7g,poly 2.1g), Protein: 7.3g, Carbohydrate: 37.9g, Fiber: 2.4g, Cholesterol: 0.0mg, Iron: 2.2mg, Sodium: 739mg, Calcium: 81mg.

Nov 4, 2010

Spicy Snack mix

I’m celebrating Halloween with The Secret’s in the Sauce for a chance to win a sweet camera. Today it's all about something we made for Halloween. Enjoy!
Halloween is all about candy.  Lots, and lots of candy. The holiday itself is practically a piñata, bursting at the seams with chocolate bars, caramels and tootsie pops. But what about those of us with a salty tooth? The sort of people who would happily down a plate of nachos over a bowl of ice cream? The weird ones who top their chocolates with salt? The annoying dates like yours truly that go out for dessert and coffee and end up ordering fried mozzarella sticks and beer? What does Halloween have to offer these people?

Well, among the caramel apples and the cider mill donuts and the overflowing bags of candy, there’s one salty treat that I couldn’t get enough of this year.

Now, I’m not huge a fan of popcorn. And I loathe pretzels. Cereal sans the milk? Blah. And let’s just say in my opinion, plain ‘ol peanuts are much better suited for peanut butter than straight-from-the-jar popping. But all mixed together and coated with a garlicky, spicy, buttery sauce and baked to crispy perfection? Delicious.

So, I hereby give to you, a falltastic snack that will satisfy even the biggest salty snack addicts out there, and may even lure in few sweet freaks for a much needed sugar high hiatus.

And while it may have been the perfect snack for toting under butterfly wings or witch capes to a hopping Halloween party, it’s also delightful for munching on any day of the year, whether in front of the TV, behind a hand of cards, or on top of a pillow during a slumber party gossip sesh.

And to make things even better, the recipe is wicked easy, although I did make a few alterations to the original recipe. I added the protein-packed peanuts so I could pass it off as a meal (ha!), reduced the popcorn and maybe...just maybe... I cheated and used butter-flavored popcorn when I was supposed to use popcorn "without fat." So sue me.

Try it. You’ll love it. It’s like Chex Mix, but way better, healthier and cheaper than the bagged stuff. And far better for our poor post-Halloween bodies than raiding the candy stash of those younger and weaker than us. Although, I say go for both: salty and sweet. Bite of candy. Bite of snack mix. Smile. Just leave a few tootsie rolls for the kids.

Spicy Snack Mix
Yield: 4 cups (serving size: 1 cup)
Cooking Light, January 1993

3  cups  popped corn (air or microwave popped without salt or fat) 
(I reduced the popcorn and added dry-roasted peanuts) 
1  cup  crispy corn cereal squares 
1  cup  tiny salted pretzels 
1  tablespoon  butter, melted 
1  teaspoon  chili powder 
1/4  teaspoon  ground cumin 
1/4  teaspoon  garlic powder 
1/4  teaspoon  salt

Combine first 3 ingredients in a large zip-top heavy-duty plastic bag; set aside.

Combine butter and remaining ingredients in a small bowl; add mixture in bag. Seal the bag and shake to coat.

Spread mixture evenly into a 15- x 10- x 1-inch jellyroll pan. Bake at 275 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring twice. Cool completely; store in an airtight container.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 64 (25% from fat), Fat: 1.8g (sat 0.3g,mono 0.6g,poly 0.8g), Protein: 1.4g, Carbohydrate: 10.8g, Fiber: 1g, Iron: 0.7mg, Sodium: 256mg, Calcium: 6mg.


Nov 1, 2010

A Halloween’s Past

I miss being a kid in the fall.

I miss drinking hot apple cider after a long day of leaf jumping in the chilly autumn air. I miss the crepe paper-draped school parties and the pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies and the construction paper bats. And I miss the homemade costumes.

While other kids paraded around in overpriced sparkly fairy princess getups, I was at the mercy of whatever creation my mother concocted. Fortunately, I was not left in the hands of a substandard seamstress. My mom’s sewing skills landed me some pretty sweet costumes like this cat, complete with candy corn tail, ears and vest (which I must not have put on before my grandpa snapped this photo). A little dab of lipstick and a few strokes of eyeliner and I was as happy as a clam…err…cat. I didn’t have glittery wings or dollar store plastic wands, but my crafty costume was just perfect. It got the job done, scoring me more candy than I could eat in a year.

I remember bouncing down the street, loot in tow, begging each step of the way to have "just one more piece of candy...please!" Then swinging into the old folk's home, where all the sweet old ladies sat in a circle, offering pennies from their tiny coin purses. Then we'd make our way home and dump out all our candy so my mother could check for needles and sketchy confections, while my brother and I sorted the Snickers and Reese's away from the sub par Tootsie Rolls.

Oh, to be a kid again! I guess I'll just have to wait until I have my own children to experience the same excitement. Although I have learned a thing or two on how to make my own penny-pinching, laugh-conjuring costumes. For details on this year's'll just have to come back for another post!
I’m celebrating Halloween with The Secret’s in the Sauce for a chance to win a sweet camera. I'm in desperate need of a real camera as darker days threaten to make my tiny front porch photo shoots move indoors where the lighting is just a shade better than office fluorescent. So today was all about a memory from Halloween's past. Hope you enjoyed! 

Oct 28, 2010

Tomato-Basil Salsa & Fresh Berry Daiquiris

I wish I could tell you that these super summery treats were meant to be posted in chilly October. That it was my purposeful plan to exclusively accommodate the parched Floridians and West Coasters, or those lucky enough to be enjoying the warm breezes of an Indian summer.

But no. I’m simply a slacker. A procrastinator. An overworked advertising writer who finds her weekends filled with the same things that fill her weekdays. Work. Not to mention the apple orchards and the out of town guests and the trips around the country that far beat the eye twitch inducing staring competition with a blank Word doc.

But amidst the pumpkins and the parties, I have good news... I finished my cooking project! I successfully cooked through a year of Cooking light recipes. But like most good news, mine is inevitably followed by bad news: I won’t allow myself to celebrate until I’ve posted all of my hard work on this here blog, because somewhere along the way, documenting the project became just as important as the actual project itself. 

So while my crammed calendar has been robbing me of the time my perfectionist nature needs to meticulously pick photos and write entries, fear not! I’ll soon be caught up and the champagne will surely flow.

In the meantime, clap silently for my secret victory and take a break from your pumpkin-spice confections to enjoy a fresh, fruity drink and a summer salsa I made back in….err…July.

This salsa recipe creates a super easy, six-ingredient, 11-measly-calorie dip that’s far…FAR… better than the bottled stuff. It was my first attempt at peeling a tomato (you can peel tomatoes!) and let me tell you – a vegetable peeler is not the way to go, my friends. Instead, this method is great for sanity-saving peeling and this trick gets every last seed out in seconds.

Once you’ve made it past that step, a few chops, a splash of red wine vinegar and a dash of S&P are all you need to put garden-fresh salsa on your table.  And if you're going to eat salsa in October, you might as well have a frosty cocktail to wash it down, right?

These daiquiris take a little more patience than the salsa, but I promise they’re worth it. If you’ve ever found yourself craving the icy, fruity sweetness of a seaside cabana daiquiri in the comfort of your own home, but hate the corn syrup-filled and artificially flavored crap that lines the grocery store shelves, you’ll love these fresh treats.

First, make simple syrup (boiled and cooled sugar water). Then, puree your berries of choice (raspberries, blueberries or strawberries), sieve them to remove skins and seeds and blend them with ice, lime juice and rum.

Then drag your lawn chair out of storage, pretend this frigid fall weather is really a summer heat wave and enjoy your fresh salsa and chilled tropical drink. Mind over matter, right? Think warm…feel warm. And then say a prayer that I can post a few dozen more recipes before the snow falls so you’re not enjoying frozen treats in the presence of icicles.

Tomato-Basil Salsa
Yield: 2 cups (serving size: 1/4 cup)
Cooking Light, JULY 1998

Note: Aside from tortilla chips, this salsa is also great served with grilled vegetables, beef, or poultry. Or try it as a condiment on a grilled-chicken sandwich or toasted bagel with cheese.

2  cups  chopped seeded peeled tomato
1/4  cup  chopped fresh basil
2  tablespoons  chopped red onion
2  tablespoons  red wine vinegar
1/4  teaspoon  salt
1/8  teaspoon  black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 11 (16% from fat), Fat:0.2g (sat 0.0g,mono 0.0g,poly 0.1g), Protein: 0.5g, Carbohydrate: 2.5g, Fiber: 0.6g, Cholesterol: 0.0mg, Iron: 0.2mg, Sodium: 77mg, Calcium: 5mg.


Fresh Strawberry Daiquiris 
Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 2/3 cup)
David Bonom, Cooking Light, JUNE 2008

1  cup  halved strawberries
1/2  cup Simple Syrup (recipe to follow)
1  tablespoon  fresh lemon juice
3  cups  crushed ice
1/2  cup  rum (Captain Morgan spiced rum is perfect.)
3  tablespoons  fresh lime juice

Combine first 3 ingredients in a blender, and process until smooth.
Strain mixture through a sieve into a bowl, and discard solids.
Combine strawberry mixture, 3 cups crushed ice, rum, and lime juice in blender, and process until smooth.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 107 (1% from fat), Fat: 0.1g (sat 0.0g,mono 0.0g,poly 0.0g), Protein: 0.2g, Carbohydrate: 16.7g, Fiber: 0.6g, Cholesterol: 0.0mg, Iron: 0.1mg, Sodium: 1mg, Calcium: 6mg.

Blueberry Daiquiri Variation
Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 2/3 cup).
Substitute 1 cup blueberries and increase simple syrup to 3/4 cup.
Nutritional Info: Calories: 140 (1% From Fat), Fat: 0.1g (Sat 0g, Mono 0g, Poly 0g), Protein: 0.2g, Carbs: 25.3g, Fiber: 0.6g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Iron: 0.1mg, Sodium: 1mg, Calcium: 4mg.

Raspberry Daiquiri Variation
Yield: 6 Servings (Serving Size: 2/3 Cup).
Substitute 1 (6-Ounce) box raspberries and increase simple syrup To 3/4 Cup.
Nutritional Into: Calories: 141 (1% From Fat), Fat: 0.2g (Sat 0g, Mono 0g, Poly 0.1g); Protein: 0.4g, Carbs: 25.1g, Fiber: 0.6g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Iron: 0.2mg, Sodium: 1mg, Calcium: 9mg.

Simple Syrup
Yield: 1 1/2 cups (serving size: 3 tablespoons)
David Bonom, Cooking Light, JUNE 2008

Note: This Simple Syrup recipe makes enough for three batches of strawberry daiquiris or two batches of the blueberry or raspberry variation. The syrup is also handy for sweetening iced tea.

1 1/4  cups  sugar
1  cup  water

Combine sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 1/2 minutes or until sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Refrigerate until chilled.

Nutritional Information:
Calories: 121 (0.0% from fat), Fat: 0.0g (sat 0.0g,mono 0.0g,poly 0.0g), Protein: 0.0g, Carbohydrate: 31.3g, Fiber: 0.0g, Cholesterol: 0.0mg, Iron: 0.0mg, Sodium: 1mg, Calcium: 1mg.

Oct 21, 2010

Jamaican Jerk Beef Kebabs

I'll never forget the first time I tried Jamaican food. I was on a date. A very awkward first date.

It remember that Tuesday afternoon like it was yesterday. My date and I were making nervous small talk as we drove through town, both staring straight ahead, only glancing at each other for brief moments at a time. Still, I noticed his over-gelled spiky hair and I'm sure he noticed my overly done up face.

We arrived at Coconut Grove, a brand new Jamaican restaurant that stood out like a soar thumb amidst the frat boy bars and grease traps that lined the vicinity of our college campus. Maybe that's why we were the only customers in the place. Or maybe I was just too nervous to notice anyone else.

We sat down in a tiny two-seater booth and began the unconscious game of avoiding direct eye contact while fiddling with straw wrappers. Thankfully, being the only customers meant our chipper waiter checked on us often and was soon rattling off daily specials. I scanned the menu, full of weird fruit chutneys and foreign pork dishes until I found something that my uncultured taste buds could hopefully choke down, a jerk chicken sandwich.

While we waited for our food, the date went something like this: He’d tell a joke. I’d laugh. Then we’d both take sips of our sodas and pretend to read the table toppers to avoid an inevitable awkward silence. Silence wasn't something we wanted. Silence meant we might have to acknowledge the one thing we’d been avoiding since he picked me up that afternoon. The subject of the night before.

Less than 24 hours earlier, we’d put on a fundraiser for our school's ad club. Did I mention that we were classmates? Buddies? We were, in fact, two people who normally would've joked the night away in a circle of friends, complete with arm jabbing and teasing. 

But this fundraiser had free beer. And for those of you who don’t know, free beer has been known to come along with an overdose of confidence. And that’s why I kissed him.

Alas, after several beers and a few fruity blue-colored shots, two good friends had their first kiss, surrounded by all their confused classmates. From there, the night was a whirlwind of confessions. “I’ve liked you for so long." "Me, too." And we both assured each other this was the beginning of something perfect. And that the best relationships start out as friendships. And that things wouldn't, just couldn't, be weird the next day. No, we would surely dodge the curse of most friends-turned-something-more. So we planned a lunch date to prove it to ourselves.

So there we were. On our lunch date. It felt surreal that the same man who used to make me laugh was now was making me nervous, and I knew things would forever be different. We’d kissed, and there was no changing that. I'd just have to try and get over the weirdness of it all.

The arrival of our food, usually a comfort on awkward dates, added only more weirdness. The spicy sweet jerk flavor was all too new to my taste buds, which at that point in my life were loyal only to chicken fingers and the occasional quesadilla, 86 the onions. Yes, at a time in my life I didn’t like onions, which I now eat straight out of the pan when I’m carmelizing them. So you can’t blame me for not jumping for joy over the exotic sandwich staring back at me. But in all honestly, I couldn’t taste much anyway because my brain was too focused on the man across the table to allow my gustatory system full function.

Needless to say, I accidentally left my leftovers on the table when we left.

After lunch, we decided to skip class and watch Fight Club back at my apartment, which really meant we sat there over thinking what to do and how to sit, wondering if we looked ok and had anything in our teeth, all the while making sure we still reacted to the important parts of the movie to maintain our cover that we were actually watching it.

Then, finally, in another act of boldness, we kissed again. Sober. And we knew it was real. All our nerves were put at ease and the world made perfect sense. I could date my friend. I really could. 

In fact, in just a few days, we’ll be celebrating our two-year wedding anniversary. 

So now that I'm married to the jerk-loving man, I thought I'd give Jamaican flavors a second chance. Thankfully, my tongue has come along way since my college years, because these fragrant kabobs are to die for. Just blend up the quick sauce and throw them on the grill or cook them under the broiler.

The sauce, a sweet-spicy mix of Christmas and the Caribbean, pairs perfectly with the juicy beef, red pepper and plantains, which get nice and crunchy on the grill. We ate our meal with toasted pita, black beans and rice and a few slices of grilled pineapple, which I totally recommend. It's absolutely delicious. And this time, there were no leftovers to leave behind.

Jamaican Jerk Beef Kebabs
Cooking Light, August 2001
Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 kebab)

Note: Jerk is a Jamaican seasoning blend used on beef, pork, chicken, lamb, and fish. Traditionally, jerk is a dry rub, but you can mix it with liquid to form a paste or marinade. Choose yellow plantains with black spots to ensure that they're ripe.

1/2  cup  chopped green onions
1  tablespoon  ground allspice
2  tablespoons  red wine vinegar
1  teaspoon  salt
1  teaspoon  chopped fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2  teaspoons  low-sodium soy sauce
1/2  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
1/8  teaspoon  ground nutmeg
2  habanero or serrano peppers, seeded
1 1/2  pounds  boneless sirloin, trimmed and cut into 30 cubes
1  red bell pepper, cut into 18 pieces
2  black-ripe plantains, peeled, and each cut into 9 pieces
Cooking spray
Diagonally cut green onions (optional)
Lime wedges (optional)

Prepare grill.

Combine first 9 ingredients in a food processor or blender; process until smooth. Place onion mixture, beef, and bell pepper pieces in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator 20 minutes.

Remove beef and bell pepper pieces from bag; discard marinade. Place beef, bell pepper pieces, and plantain pieces in a large bowl; toss well to coat. Thread 5 beef cubes, 3 red pepper pieces, and 3 plantain pieces alternately onto each of 6 (12-inch) skewers. Lightly coat kebabs with cooking spray. Place kebabs on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Cook 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare or until desired degree of doneness. Garnish with green onion pieces and serve with lime wedges, if desired.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 260 (25% from fat), Fat: 7.1g (sat 2.7g,mono 2.9g,poly 0.3g), Protein: 26.9g Carbohydrate: 21.3g, Fiber: 2.4g, Cholesterol: 76mg, Iron: 3.4mg, Sodium: 358mg, Calcium: 20mg. 
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