Light, refreshing Thai Noodle Salad

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When I sat down to post this recipe I noticed that it had been a month since my last posting.  At the end of that post, I mentioned that my next recipe would be a dessert.  And, I actually made that recipe and it was good, but after making the Thai noodle salad, I wanted to share it first.  This recipe also came from Southern Living-The Slim Down South Cookbook by Carolyn O’Neil, MS, RD.

I love this dish!  I have already prepared this dish for Randy and me and again for an informal get-together at a friend’s home.  Everyone who tasted the salad loved the wonderful combination of flavors and heat from the jalapeños.

Add to that, that the salad is so incredibly easy to make, it has taken its place in my recipe collection and will be prepared many more times over the hot, sultry summer days.  The only ingredient I had a little difficulty finding was the fish sauce.  I shopped several times and could not find it at my local market event though I looked in the ethnic foods aisle.  Yes, I know, I could have substituted the soy sauce but I always prefer to try a new recipe with the original ingredients even if it means searching far and wide and going back several times to the market.  Eventually, I was able to purchase a bottle at my local supermarket.

Thai Noodle Salad

1(8-oz.) package vermicelli

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped

¼ cup fresh lime juice

1 Tbsp. fish sauce*

1 Tbsp. honey

1 1/2 tsp. sesame oil

1/4 tsp. table salt

2 carrots, grated

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced

1 cup finely shredded cabbage

¼ cup chopped fresh mint

¼ cup chopped dry-roasted peanuts

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, rinse, and place in a large bowl; set aside.
  2. Process cilantro and next 7 ingredients in a food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides.
  3. Toss together pasta, cilantro dressing, carrots, and next 3 ingredients. Divide salad mixture evenly among 4 pasta plates. Sprinkle each salad with 1 Tbsp. peanuts, and serve immediately.*Soy sauce may be substituted for fish sauce.

Serving size – 1 salad—CALORIES 326; FAT 7.3g (sat 1.1g, mono 2g, poly 2.2g); PROTEIN 11.3g; CARB 56.4g; FIBER 4.6g; CHOL 0mg; IRON 2.5mg; SODIUM 534mg; CALC 52mg.

I used the fish sauce each time I made the salad; however, the next time I will use the soy sauce just to see what, if any, difference it makes to the overall taste of the dish.

On a personal note, I would like to say thank you to my regular readers, and new readers, for checking in once in a while in my absence to see if I had posted a new recipe or traveled somewhere wonderful.  I have not posted recently because, quite frankly, I am in turmoil over a distant loved one and have had a great deal of difficulty focusing on my own world.

While the problem still exists, I have finally realized that I am not in control and have stepped away in hopes the situation will resolve, hopefully sometime in the near future.  Until then I am back in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes and preparing for a wonderful vacation across the oceans blue.

Enjoy,

Mary

Posted in Cookbook, Food, international cuisine, pasta, vermicelli | Tagged , | 4 Comments

A cold summer salad for a hot summer day

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I love this salad.  This is the second recipe I plucked from the pages of Southern Living-The Slim Down South Cookbook by Carolyn O’Neil, MS.RD.

I love this recipe because all the ingredients are easily purchased at a local supermarket, it is easy to assemble and wonderful to eat.  I love the variety of colors, textures and tastes of this wonderful salad.  I paired it with barbeque pork but it will just as easily go with hamburgers, chicken, fish, Mexican food and more.

Corn and Black Bean Salad:

2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)

1 (15oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup chopped tomato

1/3 cup lime juice

¼ cup finely chopped red onion

½ jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

2 tsp. hot sauce

½ tsp. table salt

½ tsp. ground cumin

½ tsp. ground coriander

½ tsp. black pepper

  1. Preheat broiler with oven rack 5 inches from heat. Place corn on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.
  2. Broil corn 12 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring once. Remove from oven, and let stand 10 minutes.
  3. Combine corn and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Serving size ½ — CALORIES 69; FAT 0.7g (sat 0.1g. mono 0.2g. poly 0.2g); PROTEIN 3.2g; CARB 14g; FIBER 2.6g; CHOL 0mg; IRON 0.8mg; SODIUM 254mg; CALC 19mg

As I have in the past, I sent a portion of the salad to our wonderful neighbors, Bob and Sandy to get their reaction.  Later that evening Sandy called and said she had one word to describe how they felt about the salad, “Delicious”.

The next recipe on my list from this cookbook will be a dessert.

Enjoy,

Mary

Posted in beans, Cookbook, corn, Food, salad | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Lite Pecan Pancakes

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I love southern cooking.  I love Southern Living magazine.  Every recipe I have ever tried from a Southern Living magazine or their wonderful Christmas edition cookbooks have been deliciously wonderful.  So, when I was book shopping last December and came across a book titled, “Southern Living—The Slim Down South Cookbook” by Carolyn O’Neil, MS, RD,  I was very excited.

Ms. O’Neil teamed up with the editors of Southern Living, “To show that great tasting Southern foods can and do fit in with modern health and nutrition advice”.  I sat down one evening and read through the book and when I was done I realized I had bookmarked so many pages, I just knew I had to get cooking.

The first recipe I tried was the Pecan Pancakes.

Pecan Pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted

1 tsp. granulated sugar

1 tsp. light brown sugar

½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp. baking soda

1/8 tsp. table salt

1 cup nonfat buttermilk

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 large egg

Vegetable cooking spray

  1. Stir together first 8 ingredients until well combined.
  2. Whisk together buttermilk, oil, and egg in a bowl; add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.
  3. Pour about ¼ cup batter for each pancake onto a hot griddle or large skillet coated with vegetable cooking spray. Cook pancakes 2 to 3 minutes or until tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Turn and cook other sides. Serve immediately

Note: Mix the dry ingredients ahead to make breakfast quicker in the morning. Store the mix in an airtight container up to one week.  Makes 5 servings.

Serving size 2 pancakes. CALORIES 230 FAT 12.2g (sat 1.4g, mono 5.9g, poly 4.3g) PROTEIN 6.3g CARB 24.8g FIBER 1.5g CHOL 37.2mg IRON 1.6mg SODIUM 227mg CALC 102mg.

The pancakes were light, fluffy and had a wonderful nutty taste that Randy and I both loved.

I actually made these tasty pancakes for dinner. I find that all too often breakfast is a quick bowl of cereal, yogurt, maybe some fruit because we both have crazy morning schedules. I like to linger over my meals and so, breakfast for dinner was just perfect. A few slices of bacon, cold glasses of orange juice and a little fruit and voilà a wonderful meal at the end of a busy day.

Enjoy,

Mary

 

Posted in Cookbook, Food, pancakes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Chillin on the Patio

View of the golf course from Topper's Tavern patio

View of the golf course from Topper’s Tavern patio

When Randy and I first moved to Spruce Creek Golf and Country Club in 2002 there was a restaurant within the community called the Blue Water Grille.  We loved the atmosphere, the food and the view of the golf course from the dining room.

Since then the restaurant changed hands several times with new names, new staff, new menus and sometimes mixed reviews.  Topper’s Tavern came on the scene last year and what I have been able to glean from conversations with friends and neighbors, the restaurant will be a positive change in our community.

We noticed that some carpet had been replaced, other carpets were mended and cleaned, the fire pit on the patio had been repaired, the kitchen equipment had been replaced, there were new umbrellas on the patio, the bar took on a new look, large screen TVs had been added and the selection of beer offerings had doubled to name a few.

The new management also hired a new chef and experimented with various forms of entertainment including a barbeque rib cookout on the patio, Italian night and wine tasting nights during the fall and winter months.

Randy and I decided we would try dining at Topper’s and see if the changes that taken place would bring us back as regulars to the restaurant.

All of that brings me to a recent visit to Topper’s.  The evening was warm with a light breeze making it a comfortable evening to be sitting outside as sunset started to descend over the golf course.

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Our friend Sandy was celebrating a birthday so, we decided to head up to Topper’s for dinner on the patio.  We got there a little early so I could set up her birthday card; a delicious, filled happy birthday decorated cupcake and ties a fun balloon to her chair.

One thing that has definite improved at Topper’s is the menu.  I have eaten at Topper’s a number of times with Randy, friends and in groups over the last year and have never been disappointed.  And, each time I have chosen a different selection to get a good feel about the quality and taste of the food.

The heat of the day was still lingering as we prepared to make our selections so, we all decided to keep our choices on the lite side.

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Sandy ordered the Chicken Quesadillas filled with grilled chicken, bacon, scallions, red bell peppers, jalapenos and Colby jack cheese. I have had these several times and they are really tasty.

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Sandy’s husband, Bob, ordered the Trio Salad Plate with the house-made chicken, tuna and egg salad served on a bed of greens with tomatoes, cucumbers and warm flatbread points.

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Randy and I ordered the Topper’s House Salad.  We both love the combination of mixed greens tossed in herb vinaigrette with candied pecans, craisins, and diced provolone cheese.

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Now, add a couple of pitchers of ice-cold beer and you have a wonderful meal on a warm, spring evening.

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What made the evening even more enjoyable was the music of entertainer Joe Carter.  With his very pleasant voice, Joe sang a nice variety of country and rock and roll songs. Do you like the songs of Elvis, Tommy Edwards, Josh Turner, Jerry Lee Lewis, Toby Keith?  Well, Joe can sing their songs and so much more.  I learned that Joe entertains every Thursday evening on the patio.  At one point I turned and asked Randy to dance, the next thing I knew others joined us.  There was no dance floor, just a little patch of patio but it sufficed.  A little later we noticed that several golf carts had stopped on the golf course to listen to the music too.

Choosing Topper’s was a wonderful idea.   The evening could not have been better.   The atmosphere was inviting, the service prompt and friendly, the food delicious and the entertainment was great.  We all had a great time, especially Sandy.

Enjoy,

Mary

Posted in quesadillas, salad, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

A sea day packed with food, fun, games and entertainment

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Beautiful sunrise (5:39am)

This was our last day at sea and I did not want to waste a minute of it.  I was up before dawn and waited on the balcony for the sun to rise.  How wonderful to see this ball of fire we call the sun come up over the horizon.  What a spectacular sight.

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By 7:42am, we had already watched the sun come up, had our breakfast and found our lounge chairs at the Solarium pool.  Randy armed with magazines and I with my kindle have settled in for a morning of sunshine and relaxation.

 

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DSC02934DSC02940bOur afternoon, however, was one fun event after another.  First on our agenda was to attend FreedomFest held on the promenade.  Just for a moment think about the art festivals, craft fairs and food festivals that have been held in your own home town and how much fun they were.  A day filled with booth after booth filled with delights that made you smile. Now, imagine that happening on ship slowly cruising on the beautiful blue sea and you have FreedomFest.

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DSC02939There were booths all along the promenade booths with crew members demonstrating animal towel animal folding, fruit, vegetable and ice carving, sharing bar trick secrets, several chefs shared expert culinary tips and so much more.  While talking to the chef, I asked if he would share the recipes of all the chilled soups served over the week.  He assured me I would receive a copy of all the recipes during dinner.  I also bought the newest copy of the cruise line’s cookbook, Carte du Jour 2nd Edition.   The cookbook is a wonderful collection of delicious recipes from the dining room and the specialty restaurants on Royal Caribbean ships.

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DSC02944While the festival was in full swing, I attended a cupcake decorating class at the Cupcake Cupboard.  When I signed up, I was a little worried that everyone else attending the class would be children but to my surprise there were two teenage girls and five other women.

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DSC02946DSC02942The class was a lot of fun and in the end we all created delicious looking cheeseburgers and French fries all from cupcakes, colored icing and fondant.  I will definitely participate in this activity again on future cruises.

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Along the promenade are restaurants and shops that we tried our best to visit during our cruise.  One that we visited during the festival was the Bull & Bear English Pub. After looking over the extensive list of choices we decided on a pale lager from the Netherlands called Grolsch Premium Lager.  The lager was a little different taste than I am used to but very tasty.

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One thing Randy really enjoys doing is exploring so off we went to explore parts of the ship we had not visited.  On one of the decks at the bow of the ship there were several benches and just out of the corner of my eye I noticed something and had to investigate.  As I got closer, I realized it was one of those toy monkeys with long legs and arms that my granddaughter Maddy had hanging from her bedpost at home when she was younger.  Not sure if a passenger hung it there or a crew member; it did not matter, it was cute.  Of course, I had to take a picture of it.

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Our afternoon was not over yet.  Just before dinner we lined up with many other passengers for the DreamWorks® Move It! Move It!® Spectacular Parade.  The parade was filled with many crew members and production cast members dressed in colorful costumes and, along with DreamWorks characters Po, Shrek, Fiona, Alex the Lion King, King Julien, Gloria the hippo and Puss n’ Boots, marched and danced their way around promenade much to the delight of young and old alike.

DSC02976bAfter such an exciting afternoon, I decided I just wanted some comfort food for dinner and had the chilled pineapple and lychee soup and the roasted turkey.  As promised, the executive chef indeed sent an envelope to our table with the seven chilled fruit soups we enjoyed each evening.  Now the funny part; the recipes were for servings of 100 to 500.  I started to laugh and thought: Well, I will just have to put my math skills to work when I return to my kitchen.

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I always love the farewell shows on ships.  There were song and dance routines by the production cast, a showing from comedienne Jim David, an aerial act by Ilia and many of the DreamWorks characters took to the stage.  The show was fun, fun, fun.

The entire day was just wonderful but it was time to go back to the cabin pack and get a good night’s sleep.

Tomorrow we disembark and head home.

DSC02928 - CopyEnjoy,

Mary

PS–I love looking at all the art around the ships I travel on.  I especially liked this wonderful piece by artist, Koichiro Yamamoto called Liquid Piece V. Half Full Jug & Glass

The description read: The artist is inspired by cooking, eating and drinking.  Most objects of our daily life are an inspiration for him and are turned into works of art.  He creates illusions by using the pre-conceptions that we have of form.  Wonderful!

Posted in cruising, travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Just a lazy day at sea

 

Up early and watching the sun break through the clouds!

Up early and watching the sun break through the clouds!

 

 

Island tours are done, the ship is now homeward bound.  We will be at sea for two days.  Two days of sleeping in, sitting by the pool and just enjoying cruising on the vast ocean blue.

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On our first day at sea, I stepped onto the balcony to a warm breeze, clear blue skies and wonderful puffy white cumulus clouds.  No whitecaps today just rolling mounds of blue sea water.  Every once in a while if you looked closely you could see tiny flying fish skittering across the water.  These tiny little fish remind me of little hummingbirds.

Doesn't this look yummy?

Doesn’t this look yummy?

Once again we enjoyed a delicious continental breakfast of sliced fresh fruit, pastries and coffee before heading upstairs in hopes of finding lounge chairs at the Solarium pool.  We did not.  They were all taken.  However, we did find a stack of chairs near the hot tub and availed ourselves of two.  The location was perfect; in the shade.

Solarium Pool

Solarium Pool

The hours just drifted by as I read my second Vince Flynn novel since coming on board and Randy read his motorcycle magazines.  It really was a great location as we could hear the music from the main pool and all the activities happening there.   We managed a quick break and had a quick lunch at the Windjammer Café.   At 1:00pm the belly flop competition got underway.  Even in our spot we could hear the cruise director announcing each competitor, rally the crowd.  It was really fun to hear.

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Before we knew it, it was 2:30 and it was time to fold our towels and returned them to the towel station.  We had an invitation to a top tier event at4:45 and needed to head down to the cabin to shower and get dressed.

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Top pier events are designed to say ‘thank you’ to those on board who come back over and over again to cruise with Royal Caribbean.  It is always a simple affair with a few hors d’oeuvres, champagne, rum punch.  The captain puts in an appearance as does several other top crew staff followed by a little dancing before going to dinner.

Roasted peach soup.  YUMMY!

Roasted peach soup. YUMMY!

Dinner was simply delicious this evening.  I ordered the chilled roasted peach soup and Thai Chicken with edamame and shiitake sauce bok choy and steamed rice.  The chicken was very tender and the red curry sauce mild and delicious.

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DSC02896DSC02894On our way to the theatre, we stopped at the Promenade Café to pick up Randy’s daily coconut cookies and my chai latte.  The entertainment this evening was a production show called “Once Upon A Time”.  The show is based on famous fairy tales, performed to music from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.  The costumes were eye catching, the cast wonderful, and the sets amazing and, of course, we loved the music.  Like all really good shows, it seemed as if it was over just as it got started.  Very entertaining.

We had talked about going back to the pool for a little night swimming but decided instead to go back to the cabin.  I did not realize just how tired I was.  It did not take long for me to drift off with pleasant dreams floating around in my head.

Tomorrow, another fun day at sea.

DSC02922Enjoy,

Mary

Posted in cruising, Thai cuisine, travel | 7 Comments

Port of call: Philipsburg, St. Maarten

Gazing down at the calm, clear blue waters of the Caribbean

Gazing down at the calm, clear blue waters of the Caribbean

How wonderful to wake up to yet another beautiful, sunny day.  We slept a bit late today but rose in time to watch as the captain pulled the ship into port with ease.  Eventually we made our way up to the Windjammer Café for a light breakfast before heading for the pier.

Entering the port of Phillipsburg, St. Maarten.

Entering the port of Philipsburg, St. Maarten.

We visited St. Maarten several times and always enjoyed visiting Orient Beach.  Randy had visited the French side of the island several years before we met, so we decided to catch a cab over to St. Martin.

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Waterfront at Port la Royale on the French side of the island (Marigot, St. Martin)

We were fortunate to catch a van outside the port with five other travelers.  Before long we were on our way to the capital of the French side of the island, St. Martin, Marigot.  There were six ships in port today so the traffic on the road was very crowded.  Fortunately, our driver knew a great deal about shortcuts and delivered us to Marigot within a short amount of time.

Marina Port la Royale

Marina Port la Royale

There were some spectacular sights of the bay on our way to the French side but, because we were in a taxi there was no stopping for photos.  We arrived in a section of Marigot that was a concentration of small sidewalk cafes along the waterfront and a small outdoor market.

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The Marigot Market was filled with small stalls with local residents selling all manner of wonderful spices, meats, fresh fish, rums and handcrafted items.  What caught my eye was this beautiful stone statue, erected by sculptor Martin Lynn, commemorating the black female market sellers.  There was a wonderful poem, The Market, on a stone tablet that told the story of the market that I really enjoyed reading. The following is the first stanza of the poem.

The Market

Many souls, thousands ten thousands have trodden

Through my open air gallery.

Fish, fowl and beast are my treats.

Selling, purchasing, the exchange of coins is like music to my ears.

I am the Market in splendid beauty, color and sound.

I reign.

I am the Market…

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DSC02828We continued walking and saw several frescos painted on several walls opposite the market by local artist Chance Damien depicting the many activities in and around the market.  We then made our way to a small indoor, high-end mall that was obviously not doing well as a number of storefronts were empty.

 

L'Arhawak Bay Restaurant Glacier

L’Arhawak Bay Restaurant Glacier

In our travels around the waterfront we passed many cafés and decided to stop and have a bite before returning to the ship.  I was dismayed to find that what I had built up in my mind was not at all what I found.  I expected small French cafes with menus filled will French pastries and specialty coffees were actually restaurants with typical tourist fare of pizza, sandwich, hamburgers and hot dogs.

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DSC02834After stopping and reading the menus of several cafes, we stopped at the L’arhawak Bay Restaurant Glacier because they offered strawberry jam crêpes.  The  crêpe was very sweet and very good.

There was a fort within walking distance but upon exploring how far we had to walk up to the fort I decided it would be too taxing while I was recovering from a bout of pneumonia.

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Soon after lunch we caught a cab back to the port and walked around a bit and found a magnet for Kristine that showed both sides of the island then stopped by Sharkey’s for a Caribe beer before going back to the ship.  We both love watching all the tourists as they walk by taking pictures, laughing and carrying prized possessions back to the ship.

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DSC02863bOnce back on the ship we headed back to the cabin for a short rest, shower and then get ready for dinner.  Dinner was delicious as always.  I really enjoyed the chilled honeydew and melon soup and the arugula, a Bosc pear salad and two Angus beef sliders on a tomato brioche with steak fries and tarragon aïoli.  All choices were light and refreshing

 

The entertainment for the evening was FREEDOM-ICE.COM.  Randy and I saw this show several years ago on the Oasis and loved it, so we decided to go again.  What a treat!  The skaters were wonderful, the costumes was colorful, and the musical numbers just plain fun.

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DSC02871bDSC02874We stopped by the Schooner Lounge for a drink and played 70s trivia.  We played terribly I am afraid to say.  Then we stopped by the promenade to see what was happening at the “Dancing in the Street” 70’s party.  Some passengers actually brought 70’s era costumes aboard and looked great.  High above the promenade was Alex The Lion from Madagascar leading the dancing.  The music and dancing was fun but we were tired and, so we headed back to our cabin and a good night’s sleep.

Tomorrow we are at sea.

DSC02865bEnjoy,

Mary

Posted in crêpes, cruising, Food, international cuisine, travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments