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Involtini Of Beef

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It is a fact. Technology is taking over every aspect in our lives.

For the last decade, the advancement of technology from the medical to industrial to the telecommunications industry (most especially), has truly made leaps and bounds. It is amazing.

So much have changed that I feel the world actually seems so much smaller than ever. The internet has done a huge difference in our day-to-day existence. Instead of writing letters via post/mail that will take days to get to the recipient, we send an email that only takes seconds to be read. Text messages have replaced personal phone calls. Photo albums are now gathering dust somewhere in favor of digital pictures that are saved in our computers. We can now all view videos together even if we are halfway around the world from each other, thanks to YouTube. News can be broadcast within seconds worldwide. Heck, we can now even date online. And with cell phones and every conceivable tracking device there is, “not being able to contact” someone has become short of impossible.

I can go on and on regarding the merits of technology but on the flipside of it are also its disadvantages. Technology has replaced our interpersonal communications that we have lost much of that valuable “personal” touch in the process.

With these techno-gizmos available at our fingertips, a question begs to be asked. Will there come a point that people will actually forget how to communicate personally? Worse, will the English language change to wazup, LOL and BRB, from hello, you’re funny and goodbye?

In a society that’s laden with superficial standards which we don’t feel we always measure up to, computers have become our escape-goats. It is easy to hide behind our monitors to avoid being judged. How long before a personal handshake be completely replaced with the keyboard? Will a robot eventually take the place of a human-to-human, interpersonal communication? Hmmnn… food for thought.

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I miss the good old, simple life sometimes. Yes, technology is good, but there are things in life that cannot be replaced with it. So once in a while, let’s remember those times before the internet, iPhones and iPods, shall we? Let’s make time for our friends and families by speaking to them in person, sending them cards with personal handwritten notes or even visit them in person, ok?

So with this post, I would like to remember our missionary friends (the Logan family) who are in South Africa. I have actually made this for them in the past as mentioned in my previous (older) post, but thought that this dish deserves a post of its own.

This salad is not only pretty, but delicious as well. It is especially good for warm summer days when the last thing you would want to do is stand in front of the stove /oven and cook!

Moreover, this is a breeze to make. You can put this thing together probably within 5 minutes and you’ll have a fresh salad that will transport you to the isles of Capri — with the aid of your imagination, of course! :o)

Insalata Caprese
(from Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis)

1-1/2 pounds tomatoes like vine-ripened tomatoes*
1 pound fresh mozzarella
3/4 to 1 teaspoon fine sea salt or fleur de sel
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup packed basil leaves, torn or cut into thin strips
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
drizzle of fresh lemon juice

1. Slice the tomatoes and cheese into 1/4-inch thick slices. Arrange the salad on a serving platter or individual plates in an alternating pattern.
2. Season with the salt and pepper to taste.
3. Scatter the basil leaves over the top and drizzle with the oil and lemon juice.
4. Serve at room temperature.

NOTE*: I used two types of tomatoes. I thought that the different shapes would help the salad look attractive. If only I found sun-gold yellow tomatoes, then this salad would have look even more summery!

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What’s for lunch? This is a question that Mr. J and I ask ourselves everyday. And do we have as options? McDonalds. Wendy’s. Taco Bell. Burger King. KFC. Pizza Hut …. and countless other fastfoods. These are what confronts us as we contemplate on what to eat for lunch at work everyday.

I have nothing against fast foods. They are convenient and delicious! But the fact remains, they do you no good, especially when eaten on a daily basis. I’m sure you are aware of this, so I don’t have to elaborate on the reasons why. Suffice it to say that if you indulge on fastfood often enough, your buttons will have to eventually explode while your wallet implodes! Hah! (I was alluding to your physique expanding sideways and your wallet being empty, get me?). Not a pretty picture, huh?

This is exactly the reason why we cook a lot at home. The same reason why I made this dish today especially for Mr. J. I wanted to give my dear hubby a good but healthier alternative to his lunch. This pasta, coupled with a piece of fruit for dessert is definitely a much better option.

Bow Tie Pasta With Roasted Chicken Salad
Adapted from: Cooking Light

3 cups uncooked farfalle (bow tie pasta), about 8 oz.
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp stone-ground mustard
2 tbsps sugar
1-1/4 tsps salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 tsp rice vinegar
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (about 2 pcs)*
1-1/2 cups red seedless grapes, halved
1 cup celery, thin cut diagonally
1/3 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
3 tbsps fresh chives, chopped
2 tbsps fresh parsely, chopped

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Omit salt and fat. Cool.
2. Combine orange juice and the next 7 ingredients (thru vinegar) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk to combine.
3. Add cooled pasta, chicken, grapes, celery, red onion, walnuts, chives and parsley. Toss gently to combine.

*NOTE: For an even quicker preparation, use rotisserie chicken from the deli like i did. I made it the night before and threw in the dressing in the morning before hubby leaves for work. This is an excellent way to use left-over chicken from dinner.

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One Sunday morning, Mr. J and I found ourselves at home. This is not normal for us since our Sunday mornings are usually spent in church. Nope, we didn’t skip; we just went a day earlier. We were invited to a Saturday night service to one of Mr. J’s friend’s church (that’s a mouthful). We went and boy, was I thankful that we did because their guest speaker was awesome and spoke about a challenging and thought-provoking message on missions.

Anyway, before I digress here way too much, since Mr. J and I were home, I thought that it would be a good time for us to visit a local Farmer’s market which I heared, takes place every Sunday from morning until noontime. We’ve never been able to go because by the time we’re done with church, the market would already be over, or just about to be over. So off we go. I was so excited as I’ve never been to a Farmer’s market here in Miami and this would be a first for me… Farmer’s market, here we come!

Unknowingly, I was in for a great disappointment. When we got there, nobody was around – well at least the place where the market should be was empty. Where is everybody??? Well, to make a long story short, I learned that the market ended the week before. Apparently, the Farmer’s market here only takes place during spring, from February to April, mid-April to be exact. The heat this year came a little to early so they decided to end the market earlier as it was getting to be too much for the farmers here in South Florida. My oh my… so much for the Farmer’s market.

What now? Well, the next best thing to do is to go to Wild Oats (owned by the same company as Whole Foods). We were there for maybe a couple of hours. Going around the store made me feel a little bit better. So, my Sunday didn’t totally suck…

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Here’s a dish that is remembrance of that fateful Sunday. The sausage you see is something that I got from Wild Oats that day. It is a roasted-pepper with apple organic chicken sausage. Hmmn… even the sound of that already tastes good, doesn’t it? And you bet, it is… The sausage is a little spicy and sweet, hmmn.. perfect for the gnocchi and fennel. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I should add the red bell pepper since the sausage already has roasted-pepper in it. But I added it in the last minute anyway because fresh pepper would add a different taste to the roasted one. And of course, the red color just made this dish that much more attractive to the eye, don’t you think?

As for the sausage, you can always change it up according to your preference. It’s up to you, the sky’s the limit.

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Gnocchi With Chicken Sausage, Bell Pepper And Fennel
(adapted from Cooking Light)

1 (16-ounce) package vacuum-packed gnocchi
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
6 ounces chicken sausage*, casing removed and sliced
1 cup fennel, thinly sliced
1 cup red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup (2 ounces) Pecorino Romano* cheese, grated
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp butter*
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1. Cook the gnocchi according to package directions. Omit salt and fat. Drain the gnocchi but reserve 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Keep gnocchi warm.

2. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Remove sausage from skillet using a slotted spoon.

3. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in pan. Add fennel, bell pepper, and onion to pan; cook 13 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add sausage, gnocchi, cheese, black pepper, and reserved cooking liquid to pan; cook 1 minute or until cheese melts, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in butter. Mix till butter is well incorporated. Add parsley for garnish.

*NOTE: As I mentioned above, you can always change up the sausage. Original recipe suggested basil and pine nut chicken sausage. For the cheese, you can also use Asiago cheese or Parmesan if you like. As to the butter, you can omit it. I just added a tad bit to mine for a richer flavor.

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Restaurant menus, most of the time, have dishes under the appetizer section that are enough to serve as an entree, for me that is. And I do order those appetizers as my main meal once in a while, especially when I am trying to save enough room for dessert later.. ;o).

The dish I have here is actually meant as an appetizer,usually served as is, or with bread. But to have it for our dinner, I had to pair it with something substantial. So I served the scallops with pasta in alfredo sauce.

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Seared Scallops With Parsley And Garlic
1 lb bay scallops (or 16 large scallops)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pcs anchovy fillets
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced

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1. Sprinkle scallops with salt and pepper.
2. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat.
3. Add scallops, saute 2-1/2 minutes on each side or until browned. Set aside and keep warm. Repeat procedure with the remaining scallops. Wipe pan clean with paper towel.
4. Add butter to pan; reduce heat. Add anchovies and cook, stir until fillet has dissolved and melded into the butter.
5. Stir in garlic and parsley. Cook 15 seconds. Return scallops to pan. Toss to coat. Remove from heat and add lemon zest and juice.

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I used my favorite bottled 3-cheese alfredo sauce with garlic for the pasta.

NOTE: To perfectly brown scallops, I suggest that you cook them in batches. Add the scallops a few at a time so that the pan will not lose heat. Wait until the oil is hot (when you see ripples in the pan), then add the scallops – do not move them anymore until it is time to flip. The key to browning the scallops is – patience!.

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