Wildlife Rescue ~ Another Passion

It’s been a couple of busy months since my first wildlife rescue class, then straight to full fledged grabbing pelicans by the beaks, running like a gazelle netting turkey vultures, snaring sandhill cranes with a open reel fishing pole and thin rope tempting them with 2 inch meal worms, not to mention transporting every type of bird, coon, rat or bat imaginable in my car or truck!  It has interfered with my cooking and blogging, although it’s been much more rewarding, not to mention a new fitness & weight loss program that has evolved from my new obsession! Sometimes you don’t eat all day, maybe a hand full of almonds & raisins chasing it with water because there are too many critters needing rescue so you sweat off the pounds running around in the scorching  Florida sun.  I just need to figure out how to do it full time! 😉

Someday’s can be rather heart wrenching when we loose one of our precious God given creatures.  You just need to think of a rescue that you know is going to have a full rehabilitation and a successful release.  I can’t even imagine what the technicians go through, working long stressful hours and it’s all for the love of the wildlife, meaning no pay, they are all amazing people, all the volunteers too!  I do have to admit, catching pelicans has to be my favorite things to do, minus the fishy hands & peli-poo smell in the truck.  Turkey and black vultures will give you a run for your money, they run like rabbits even with broken wings! Transporting from emergency vet to the wildlife center or vice-versa is something that I can fit in after work almost everyday, it’s always interesting to hear some wild critter chatter in the car on the way home, it reminds me of the kids being little in the back seat again, except I don’t have to threaten them with the, “I’m gonna pull the car over in a minute if you don’t knock it off!”

It seems hard sometimes to balance between work, cooking/blogging, wildlife rescue and everyday lifestyle, hopefully it’s just going to be perfect harmony as is!  I have met some amazing people that have given me a new outlook on life and how important the wildlife is to our beautiful environment, every critter counts.

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Mango Pineapple Salsa

Mango pineapple salsa has to be the most wonderful side dish in the world, and it’s mango season again!  You can scoop it with chips, spread it on corn tortillas, it compliments fish, pork, poultry and shrimp, or you can just eat it out of the bowl with a spoon. 😉  It’s sweet, creamy, tangy & simply spicy to the taste buds.  I have made this dish with so many variation, this one is just for Cinco de Mayo!  Just 5 ingredients chopped & it’s ready for sizzling shrimp fajitas!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Pineapple Peeled and Sliced & Chopped {save 1/2 for sweet & sour sauce, later}
  • 2 Mango Peeled and Sliced & Chopped
  • 1/2 Sweet Onion or Red Onion for Color Chopped
  • 1 Handful Cilantro Chopped
  • Lime Juice From One Lime or Lemon
  • Hot Pepper Flakes/Jalapeno Slices {optional}

Method to the Madness:

Chop & stir all ingredients together, including lime juice, sprinkle with red pepper flakes if not using jalapeno’s.  Let salsa sit at room temperature to allow the juices to flow.

I have added sweet red & orange peppers for color & crunch.

A perfect combination to pair with black bean corn salsa & guacamole, how fresh it is!

Provecho!

 

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Organic Black Quinoa for Breakfast

Quinoa pronounced “KEEN-wah” is a modern day staple for salads, cookies, and side dishes with most health conscious flavorista’s and has been for quite a few years {5000-7000 to be somewhat exact!}  I think of it as the couscous cult from the 90’s that has now converted over, also it reminds me of the cilantro flower turning into coriander.  It has the most delicious, somewhat crunchy and very nutty-flavored wonderfulness to it.  I’m in love with organic red and black quinoa at the moment, it makes a beautiful filling “something different for breakfast” that takes no time at all to make.  There are so many topping variations, apples, figs, dates, walnuts, raisins, raw almonds, just keep it healthy.

Just a few ingredients you can have a high energy boosting, long lasting breakfast! I sprinkle a dusting of ground flax seed and ground cinnamon, even change up the honey for amber agave nectar from time to time!  Local raw honey is best although it’s hard to keep around the house, this pure clover is my back up! Organic quinoa can be purchased at your local grocery usually in the pasta or rice isle, or at most health food stores in bulk.  The bulk runs around $6.00 a pound.

This is one of the kitchen loves of my life, his name is Mr. Rice Cooker.  If you don’t have a Mr. around the house, you need to think about getting one!  You can make so many different dishes with him including steel cut oats, rice, quinoa, brown rice, it’s a crock-pot, steamer etc. ta’ boot!  Could be the best purchase of the century!

The quinoa is made just like rice, one part quinoa, two parts rice, press start and stand back!  The quinoa can be made on the stove top in a sauce pan as well.  Top with your favorite ingredients!

Bon Appetit!

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Thai Spice Garden Shrimp Curry

The farmers markets in South West Florida have a rather large selection of local organic produce this time of year.  My zucchini, lemon cucumbers, spinach & heirloom tomatoes didn’t weather the frost or fungus again this winter.  It seems to be a ongoing battle to keep the garden organic.  The herbs are a different story, they don’t have any problem growing like weeds!  This is just a healthy quick simple little delicious curry recipe that anyone can make in no time.  It’s fresh, healthy, light and filling.  I didn’t take step by step photos this time, just the end result! 😉  Most all of the ingredients can be purchased at your local grocery store in the ethnic isle or your local Asian market.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs Peanut Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Thai Curry Paste {cinnamon & ginger} is my favorite!
  • 14 oz Can Lite Coconut Milk {can use 1/2 vegetable broth 1/2 coconut milk}
  • 1 Tbs Fish Sauce
  • 1 Tsp Palm Sugar or Agave Nectar
  • 1 Stalk Lemongrass grated
  • Juice from one Lime Squeezed {one for garnish too}
  • 1 Pound Local or Domestic Wild Trap Caught Raw Shrimp cleaned, devained/tails off
  • 1 Sweet Onion
  • 1 Zucchini Cut up
  • 1 Yellow Squash Cut up
  • 1 Red Pepper Cut up
  • 1 Thai Chili Chopped {optional heat}
  • Handful Thai Basil
  • Handful Cilantro

Method To The Madness:

Saute onion in the oil, add curry paste, and cook for 1 minute. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, lemongrass & lime juice, simmer for 20 minutes.  Add the shrimp, zucchini, squash, red pepper, chili and simmer until the shrimp is cooked, about 5 minutes.  Serve over steamed jasmine rice and garnish with Thai basil, cilantro & lime wedge.

The photos below are just some of the organic herbs and vegetables used in this dish.

These are Organic Thai Chili Peppers, yes they are hot!

Organic Thai Basil has the most amazing taste & smell, you can use it so many ways to add flavor such as stir-fry’s, rice dishes, soups & salads.

This Organic Lemongrass, it will get to be 5+ feet tall, I cut it back in the spring and by summer it’s taller than me.  When the stalks are small they are more tender.

I usually grate the lemongrass, sometimes I pound it first & slice it, it just depends if I feel like taking out some aggression! 😉

These are some farmers market organic finds….. peppers, zucchini & yellow squash for the curry, notice the cucumbers are not waxed & shiny, those are for juicing & slices in water!  Don’t forget the most nutritious foods are your dark and colorful ones!

ทานให้อร่อยนะ

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My White Trash Love Treats

Not just for St. Valentines Day these are everyday white trash love treats in my book!  I just happened to pick up a bag of Campfire Roasters Marshmallows that were in the shape of hearts {1/2 off} the day after Valentines day.  In the pantry was a box of Post Fruity Pebbles that were old, stale and I’m sure moved from house to house in 2009! {you couldn’t tell though, too many preservatives} I should have named this blog Frugal Freeduh, I’ve been known to scrimp, scrape & make things work just to save a dime, that’s the creative side in me.

With a 1/2 stick of melted unsalted BUTTER in the bowl, add a 10 oz bag of marshmallows, these are mixed strawberry & regular white.

Microwave until they are puffy & melted….you can also stir the butter in while melting. {I didn’t, you can see it in the bottom of the bowl}

I love to watch them deflate, then I stir the butter from the bottom of the bowl into the soft marshmallows.

Here are the colorful little krispies, approximately 5+ cups,  you can use regular white ones too!

After stirring well, pour & scoop into a buttered glass baking pan.

You can cut them into shapes, with cookie cutters or shape them by hand if your an artist or sculptor! 😉  The big guy thought these were one of the best inventions yet…..  Coco Krispies are next on the list for Easter! {chocolate bunnies}

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Favorite Signature Lunch

Even though its winter, the organic herbs are growing like weeds.  I even feel guilty if I don’t use them every day.  My tomatoes on the other hand are not thriving as well, so I still need to pick them up at the farmers market on Saturday mornings.

I’m using the basil like most would use lettuce and spinach, just stacking it high for a full of flavor, mouth watering bite!  We often have bacon, basil & tomato {BBT’s} another signature dish, on the menu. 😉

This is a favorite of mine for a light dinner or lunch on the lanai on a whole grain baguette or bruschetta.

Sauteed tomatoes in olive oil & garlic, oregano, lemon zest, balsamic vinegar, sea salt & fresh cracked pepper, simmered until thickened, fresh mozzarella, then topped with a handful of basil.  Quick easy and light with a glass of chilled chardonnay, perfect every time! {Don’t forget the Frank Sinatra Radio station on Pandora} Frank makes everything just taste better. 😉

Buon Appetito!

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Personal Pizza Obsession

Personal pizzas must be one of the best inventions ever, {thank you Pizza Hut} you never overeat therefor, you don’t feel like you sinfully indulged with something you shouldn’t have! {eating a half pie} Personals are perfect for lunch and just cleaning out the refrigerator.

You can use whole wheat flat bread, tortillas, pitas, naan, flax crackers or anything small!  Remember they are personal, so no sharing! 😉  Whether your using a grill, toaster oven, conventional oven, it’s just depends how much time you have.

Prosciutto and arugula with fresh mozzarella, balsamic vinegar and olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt & cracked black pepper is a all time favorite of mine.  Another is anchovies, sundried tomatoes and fresh mozzarella.

Simple yet flavorful ingredients make the best tasting pizza.

With any type of bread & cheese you can make delicious goodness.

  • Whole Wheat Pita
  • Olive Oil
  • Sun Dried Tomato
  • Basil
  • Part Skim Fresh Mozzarella

The toppings are endless when you have leftovers that need to be used.  Here are a couple of idea combos to make a tasty cleaning out the fridge personal pizza.

  • Whole Wheat Pita
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Leftover Chicken
  • Broccoli
  • Part Skim Fresh Mozzarella

  • Whole Wheat Flax Tortilla
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Leftover Chicken
  • Smoked Gouda Cheese
  • Red Onion
  • Cilantro

  • Whole Wheat Flax Flat Bread
  • Marinara Sauce
  • Tomato
  • Low Fat Gorgonzola Cheese
  • Sweet Onion

  • Whole Wheat Pita
  • Tomato
  • Low Fat Provolone
  • Basil

Use your imagination and go wild!

Don’t forget fresh herbs, they always give pizza additional zip!

Bon Appetit!

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Basic and Gourmet Healthy Hummus

Hummus is a staple in the refrigerator at our house.  It can be adjusted so many ways to fit your taste pallet.  Italian, with cannellini beans, sun dried tomato, basil, oregano, garlic & pine nuts.  Thai, with scallions, chili flakes, lime juice & zest with Thai basil, (natural peanut butter replaces tahini). Caribbean fusion, with red beans, cumin, smoked paprika & cilantro, the list is endless.  Plain hummus with dill is great too, it’s just fun to have something exciting and healthy to spread on wraps, sea salt whole wheat pita chips or just dip veggies in! 😉

I like to use garbanzo beans out of a can, when I try to soak them overnight I just can’t get the hummus creamy enough.

I use a food processor and follow below:

Note: Save the drained bean juice for later in the recipe.

Ingredients for Basic Hummus:

  • 1 garlic clove mashed
  • 1 15-oz can of garbanzo bean (chickpeas) drained
  • 1 Tbs of roasted tahini (sesame seed paste) also (optional)
  • 1/2 lemon squeezed, I use the zest off the lemon also.
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • drizzles of the juice from the garbanzo beans to get it to a perfect constancy
  • couple sprinkles of kosher of salt with your fingers

Method to the Madness:

Mix the above in a food processor until creamy and smooth, adjust any flavors to your liking.  I usually make a well in the middle of the dish for extra virgin olive oil, you can dip your pita in it too!

Bon Appetit!

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Apple Dumplings

I use to make individual serving apple dumplings years ago, selling them for $5.00 a dozen.  The dumpling was made by scratch rolled out, sch-lacked with egg wash bath & raw sugar.  I’m over my rolling pin (unless it’s rolling pizza crust) and have discovered Pepperidge Farms pastry sheets.  It kills me when I pay the price of them, although the flaky pastry shell taste better than my regular pie crust, that’s fo sho! 😉

These apple dumplings are HUGE, (that’s because I’m too lazy to cut them into smaller squares!) I used 3 apples in each dumpling and could easily serve 4 people.

If your a regular reading this blog you know how excited I get when I get produce from Michigan delivered to Florida, this time I scored gala apples from Traverse City, Michigan!  They are crisp, sweet, juicy & simply amazing.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sheets of puff pastry
  • 6 gala apples, peeled, quartered and sliced thin.
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp butter (optional)
  • 1 egg, beaten

Method to the  Madness:

Preheat oven to 400° In a bowl mix together apples, raisins, sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon. Place the slices of apple and sugar mixture in the center of the two square pastry sheets.  Cut butter into 8 pieces and lay  four on each apple dumpling mixture before folding up the corners and pinching the ends closed.  Brush the tops with the egg wash, sprinkle with sugar & cinnamon.
Bake for 20-30 minutes until lightly brown & bubbly.

You can cut the pastry sheets to make small individual dumplings, also, add nutmeg, clove or other spices to your liking.

Bon Appetit!

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Pumpkin Fluff

It’s that time of year again, pumpkin fluff is in the house!  Even if you don’t like pumpkin, you will love this light, delightful fluffy bowl of whip you can dip with ginger snaps, apples, graham crackers, salty pretzels, even just a spoon or finger.  It’s not overwhelming pumpkin taste like a slice of pie, who knows, you may never have pumpkin pie again! 😉

These are the only ingredients you need, skim milk is optional.  DO NOT use almond milk, I can tell you first hand your fluff will turn into an elastic ball and fly through the kitchen with help from the electric mixer!  There are two recipes, one with milk, one without.

There are many versions of these recipes as well, I’m going to give you one with milk and one without.  You can use butterscotch pudding if you don’t have vanilla. You can also change the spices and amounts to your liking, ground ginger adds a kick for something different.

Ingredients:

  • 1  large 3.4 ounce package instant vanilla pudding mix (fat free & sugar free)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup lite whipped topping

Beat first 5 ingredients until thickened, fold in the whipped topping & serve.

 

If you prefer no milk you can use the following recipe:

Ingredients: No Milk

  • 1 15oz can of pumpkin puree
  • 1 large 3.4 ounce package instant vanilla pudding mix (fat free & sugar free)
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 12 oz container lite whipped topping

Beat first 4 ingredients until thickened, fold in the whipped topping & serve.

Bon Appetit!

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