Monday, August 11, 2014

Cherie Bender's Glitter Book Of Magical Cooking: Baby Strawberry Shortcakes

Strawberry Fairy Drawing by Cherie Bender
 These baby strawberry cakes are deliciously good for you!
Mixing almonds and oats into the biscuit dough gives an extra nutritional boost: almonds are high in monounsaturated fats, great for your heart. Oats lower cholesterol with beneficial phyto chemicals. Strawberries provide a high vitamin c source, and are a natural skin astringent.

As always, please try to use only organic products:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup plus 1 tbl natural turbinado unprocessed sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
6 tbl (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cubed into 1/2 inches
1 cup chilled heavy cream, divided, saving some for brushing
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, divided
4 cups hulled and sliced fresh strawberries
1 tbl Grand Marnier orange liqueur

To Prepare:
1 preheat the oven to 375 decrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2 pulse the flour, oats, almonds, 1/3 cup of turbinado sugar, baking powder and salt in a food processor until finely ground.
3 add the butter; pulse until only pea-size pieces
add 1/2 cup of cream and 1 teaspoon of vanilla; pulse until  large moist clumps form.
4 on a baking board, knead the dough until it combines. Pat into a 4 x 6 inch rectangle shape. Halve lengthwise, then crosswise into thirds. Arrange on the prepared baking sheet and brush with cream. Sprinkle with 1/2 tbl turbinado sugar.
5 bake and rotate the sheet halfway through cooking until golden brown on the edges, for approximately 20 minutes or when a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
6 set the biscuits on a wire rack, let cool.
(The biscuits may be made a few hours ahead of time and stored in a tight container at room temp)
7 combine the strawberries and the Grand Marnier, in a large bowl, mixing gently with a wooden spoon, tossing the strawberries often, and letting sit for a good ten minutes.
8 whisk 1/2 cup of cream, 1/2 tbl of turbinado sugar, and 1/2 tsp of vanilla in a small bowl until the cream forms peaks.
9 cut warm biscuits in half, place the bottom halves on plates, spooning the strawberries on top and covering with dollops of whipped cream. Top with the remaining shortcake biscuit halves. Garnish with sprigs of fresh mint for decoration.

I love the idea of an indulgent dessert that is also good for you! This is a perfect recipe to celebrate a new baby, a christening, or the addition of a new pet to the family. In fact, I just whipped this dessert up to celebrate, with a few of my closest friends, my adoption of another adorable Japanese Chin named Angel Claire Bodhi Bear. Which makes two; my first Japanese puppy being Dalai Lama Luck Dragon.
I hope you enjoy making this delicious recipe, and indulging in the luscious taste of healthy sweet strawberries!

References: Cooking your way to Gorgeous by Scott Vincent Borba

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Cherie Bender's Glitter Book Of Magical Cooking: Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers are an excellent comfort food which may be saved in your refrigerator or frozen, for those days when nothing will satisfy but indulgence.  This recipe for my Fancy Stuffed Peppers is packed with lots of nutrition.
Fanciful Stuffed Peppers
*All ingredients are organic & free-range*
Serves 4 people:

4 medium sized green peppers
4 baby portobello mushrooms, chopped
6 oz ground turkey
I jar of tomato sauce of your choice
1 cup Jasmine rice
1 diced sweet white onion
6 garlic cloves
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp Kosher or sea salt
ground pepper to taste
3 tbl extra virgin olive oil
5 tbl of red wine
1/2 cup Grated fresh Parmesan to sprinkle on top before baking, and some left over for serving

Trim and core the peppers, making sure the seeds are removed completely
 Par boil the peppers for 5 minutes in a medium size saucepan, lifting them out carefully with a wooden spoon so as not to damage the peppers
and set aside
Saute the garlic, medium heat, diced very fine, in the olive oil, until golden, then add the diced sweet onion, until a fragrant semi transparency. Then add the ground turkey, raising the heat for 6 minutes on high until the turkey is browned on both sides
Add the pepper flakes, and 1/2 tablespoon  of  nutmeg, making sure of an even mix. Add the red wine. Turn the heat down to low, and simmer, covered, for approximately 12 minutes, checking every five to make sure all ingredients are mixed evenly, then add half of the tomato sauce, mixing and simmering for an additional five minutes, or until the juices are absorbed, but the ground turkey is still moist.
Meanwhile, prepare the Jasmin rice according to the package directions
When the rice is ready, combine all ingredients together by adding the rice to the sauteed ground turkey mix in the saucepan. Stuff the peppers with the ground turkey mixture
Place the stuffed green peppers in an oven proof baking dish carefully, making sure they are evenly placed. Cover the peppers with the remaining tomato sauce, and sprinkle with the Parmesan, salt and pepper to taste.
Bake in a 350 oven for approximately 45 minutes, or until the peppers are nicely browned on top, and the tomato sauce is bubbling.
Remove carefully with a wooden spoon and serve. This dish is also more amazing reheated the next day, as a super-comforting lunch.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Cherie Bender's Glitter Book of Magical Cooking: Tropical Salmon

Tropical Salmon
I love this delicious pairing of sweet salsa with an amazingly tasty salmon, grilled and fresh. Perfect for a Summer night's repast. A wonderfully potent combination of anti-aging ingredients, and fantastic taste! A great source of omega-3's and many pluses of beautifying skin replenishing properties, this may even taste better the next day as a cold dish together with a salad. As always, try your very best to only use organic ingredients and ethically farmed fish.

This recipe is for two:
Salsa Ingredients:
1 Whole pink grapefruit, sectioned and diced
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup finely cut chives
3 tablespoons finely cut fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon either/or  red pepper flakes or 1 jalapeno pepper stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon honey or turbinado brown sugar

Salmon Ingredients:
Four or one large 6-once salmon filet, skin on
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Marsha's special Christmas seasoning, or Zatarain's Creole seasoning, or any other spicy seasoning of choice

Preparation: Tropical Salsa
In a glass bowl, combine all  of the ingredients, blending. Cover and store in the refrigerator for thirty minutes to marinate, before serving with the grilled salmon.

Preparation: Salmon
Preheat the grill to medium
Brush both sides of the salmon with the olive oil. Season the salmon on both sides with the seasoning of choice. Place the salmon on the grill skin side down, and cook for 3 minutes, then turn the fish 45 degrees and cook for another 3 minutes. Turn the fish over and cook for an additional 3 minutes, or until the desired amount of doneness, when the center of the salmon is tender and the surface springy.
Tip: the trick here is to watch the fish carefully during the grilling process and turning at the 45 degree angle really makes a difference, before grilling skin side up.

To Serve:
Remove the fish from the grill and spoon the salsa over the top, carefully removing and serving without the skin.
Garnish with a fresh sprig of mint.
Serve immediately in your finest serving dish, with a white Zinfandel, or sparkling white wine. A side dish of baked organic potato and organic baby carrots together with organic steamed broccoli is highly recommended.
I guarantee this dish to win over everyone's heart, absolutely delicious!

References: Cooking Your Way to Gorgeous, by Scott-Vincent Borba

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Cherie Bender's Glitter Book of Magical Cooking: Sexual Healing & A TGIF Hibiscus Cocktail

Hibiscus Flower: Photo by Cherie
The Queen Hibiscus; For Fun and Feminine healing!
Lets start with an infusion of this beautiful tropical flower, which can be found in the garden right about now, Summertime. You make an infusion the same way you might make regular tea using the leaves and flowers: for dried 1 oz. or 2 oz. for fresh flowers and leaves, to 1 pint of boiling water.
Put the herbs in a warmed teapot, pour on boiling water, leave covered to infuse, about ten minutes, until the flowers lose their color, and then strain.
Honey and lemon may be added, with a touch of grated ginger to taste. This amazing Hibiscus flower tea helps heal sexual feminine traumas, balances the psyche and is a natural diuretic, which means good for cleansing and detoxing the body. In the summer heat, it is also good iced. A few cups daily either warm or as iced tea, helps balance and heal the sexuality of women.
The beautiful Hibiscus flower may also be made into a tincture, which is a concentrated extract of dried herbs and flowers: Use a ratio of 25% undiluted alcohol, such as brandy, gin or vodka, to water. And, one part herbs, to two parts of liquid.
Place the herbs in a large jar and pour the alcohol and water mixture over it. Leave to macerate, shaking daily for two weeks.
Then, using a wine press, or pressing with a wooden spoon, press out the liquid and discard the herbs, which make a very good compost! Store in labeled dark bottles, keeping away from sunlight.
Hibiscus as a tincture, is conveniently effective, as it is concentrated and can be taken when traveling or away from home.
As an exotic drink, this Royal Hibiscus Margarita helps fight cholesterol and tastes delicious!
 Just Perfect for that "Thank God Its Friday" feeling. Here, in this recipe, it is paired with fresh squeezed Orange juice, and agave nectar; which sweetens and is good for you.
Hibiscus Reduction:
2 ounces dried hibiscus leaves, and petals.
3 ounces filtered water
Truvia Baking Blend
Sour Mix:
4 ounces raw agave nectar
4 ounces fresh squeezed orange juice
6 ounces water
Margarita Hibiscus TGIF:
2 ounces tequila of your choice
2 ounces hibiscus reduction
2 ounces sour mix
To Prepare:
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix the hibiscus, water and Truvia. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until the color has gone from the petals. Remove from the heat, adding more Truvia to taste. Strain and cool.
2.For the sour mix, combine the agave nectar, orange juice, and water
Finally, shake together the tequila, hibiscus reduction, and sour mix. Strain over ice and serve in your most enticing Margarita glass.
This should yield a tart and crisp flavor. You may add more agave nectar per cocktail for added sweetness, and garnish with squeezed lime and a fresh hibiscus, per glass. To be drunk in good health, a Nectar fit for the Gods!
Photograph of Hibiscus by Cherie Bender
Flower Power: by Anne McIntyre
Cooking Your Way To Gorgeous by Scott-Vincent-Borba

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cherie Bender's Glitter Book Of Magical Cooking: Organic Fusilli Pasta

Organic Fusilli Pasta Dish
Pasta is food for the soul and spirit.
My dish is prepared with fusilli pasta but angel hair pasta is also delicious. Here's a traditional tri-colored pasta with oregano, basil, and chives from my garden; with organic tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, asiago or Parmesan shredded cheese and loads of organic garlic. I like to add a little fresh red pepper flakes dusted on top together with the traditional black ground pepper: Garlic, besides tasting good, is also wonderful for your skin, as it stimulates collagen production and is a natural disinfectant for the whole system. Be sure to eat this dish with love for yourself and with love for the wonderful people you will share it with!
Ingredients: (All ingredients are recommended organic and/or home grown)

This recipe is for four to six people:
Fusilli Pasta: 1 package
tomatoes:  2 Heirloom   
fresh cut chives: 1/2 cup
fresh cut oregano: 1/2 cup
fresh basil: 1 1/2 cup, cut with scissors, saving one floret
extra virgin olive oil: 5 ~ 8 tbl 
garlic: 6 cloves crushed
Cooking time: 22 minutes 
First, set the pot of filtered water to a rolling boil. I never find it necessary to add olive oil, you may add a dash of Sea Salt.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, start to saute the crushed and minced garlic in the extra virgin olive oil on medium heat. When the garlic reaches a golden color add the tomatoes, chives, and oregano. Turning the heat down slightly, add the basil, reserving a floret for decoration. 
As these ingredients are sauteing, the water should now be at a rolling boil. Quickly add the fusilli pasta, using a wooden spoon stirring a few times to make sure none stick to each other or the bottom of the pot. Boil for approximately 10 minutes or until a taste test for al dente. Which means "to the tooth" with a slight resistance in the center when the pasta is chewed. 
Strain the pasta in a large colander, never, never rinsing with cold water: this is a popular misconception but only results in tasteless pasta! When the pasta is completely strained, turn the sauteing ingredients down to low heat, quickly toss the pasta evenly in the pan. Transfer to a decorative dish and top with grated pepper, a pinch of Sea Salt, the grated cheese and  the saved sprig of basil.  
Voila!  Food for beauty, health and longevity.
Food for all the angels in heaven and earth: enjoy!


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

~ Azulene ~ Pastel & Swarovski Crystals

~ Azulene ~
 ~Azulene~ the name of the essential oil extracted from Matricaria Chamomilla, or German Chamomile, is a wonderfully magical shade of deep, dazzling blue. Just gazing at this color induces relaxation. Combined with the delicious scent of the essential oil: magical wonders are created for soothing stress.
Our English word Chamomile originally stems from the Greek chamai-melon or "earth apple" because they thought it smelled like fallen apples.
In the language of flowers, Chamomile is a symbol of energy and patience in adversity. Given in a flower bouquet in the Victorian 1800's, the flower represented support and love.
The Chamomile flower was revered by the Egyptians for its medicinal virtues and dedicated the flower to Ra, the god of the sun.
 Today, the Chamomile flowers are taken as a relaxing and sleep inducing herbal tea, or they may be crushed and made into an aromatherapy sniffing ball to induce sleep. A netted bag containing dried or fresh chamomile flowers may be immersed in a warm bath to soothe tired and aching muscles and bring peace.
Azulene, the essential oil, is wonderfully relaxing as a facial. Just one drop on a warm facecloth, breathe it in, and all of the cares of the world drop away. Beautifully.
 In my drawing  ~ Azulene ~ pastel with Swarovski crystals, I wanted to capture all of the healing and soothing magical properties of the Beautiful Chamomile flower and the fragrant scintillating blue of the essential oil, Azulene.
Pastel Drawing of ~ Azulene ~ by Cherie Bender

References: Magical Aromatherapy, the power of scent, by Scott Cunningham;
Flower Power, flower remedies for healing body and soul by Anne McIntyre

Thursday, May 15, 2014

La Petite Amoureuse

* La Petite Amoureuse *
Amouse Bouche: * small tidbits * of delicious food meant to tempt and tantalize *
One of the surest ways to anyone's heart, well known from antiquity until present times:
Enticing is an art form which starts with Ambiance, Candlelight, perfect linen, crystal, fine wines and scrumptious food. Setting the stage, music also plays an important part.
One of my favorite small tidbits, demonstrated to me by my grandma, involves caviar, with toast points, crumbled egg, finely chopped onion, and a squeeze of lemon.
Serve the  fine caviar in a sparkling crystal bowl, arranging the toast points, cut to a triangle shape with crusts removed, together with piles of the chopped egg whites and yolk, and white onion,  on a decorative serving platter. One may also add sour cream with Blinis. But that Blinis recipes is for another day, as it is about to storm outside and I must turn off the computer, living in the tropics, now, as I do!
I hope you enjoy and experiment with my *Amouse Bouche * Featured Art: La Petite Amoureuse, drawing by Cherie.