Monthly Archives: October 2014

Stone Crabs And Bubblies Galore For My Birthday


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October is a celebratory month in my family because there are 4 birthdays including mine. This past weekend, I celebrated my birthday with succulent stonecrabs and delicious bubblies, in the company of my amazing family.  I do realize I’m getting a “little”older, but I refuse to grow up, because age is just a number. The important thing is that I feel good, both physically and mentally. In my family, we celebrate with food and wine,  and this year, they decided to take me out for deliciously mouth-watering stone crabs.  The season just started here in South Florida, and it runs from October 15th through May 15th of the following year. Stone crabs are usually served chilled with a mustard sauce, and already cracked for your convenience. We went to Billy’s Stonecrabs in Hollywood and had a fantastic time. The decor is very modern and romantic, and has a fabulous view of the Intracoastal. The seafood is always fresh and delicious.  The stone crabs are succulent with the mustard sauce. I also use some lemons at times (instead of the mustard sauce) which is as tasty.  A little secret to keep in mind, take it easy on the mustard sauce, otherwise, you will get filled up on it and eat less crabs.  Most of my family ordered, “all you can eat” and we paired them with sparkling wine and Champagne. It was a match made in heaven, and we all had a feast. Our waiter Wilson took very good care of us and made the evening enjoyable. I highly recommend this place for special occasions.

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Very appealing to the eyes and melt in your mouth

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Great bubblies

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My family, My Life

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Stone Crabs Galore

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A delicacy

This was definitely a splurge but it was all worth it. The food, the drinks, the company, the ambiance, all worked together in perfect harmony. It was another wonderful birthday celebration with my loved ones, and they made me feel very special. In closing I’d like to share this famous quote:

“What a grand thing, to be loved! What a grander thing still, to love!” ~ Victor Hugo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Grateful For Another Monday!

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Most people dread Mondays because it is hard to get up after a long weekend of catching up on errands, and letting your hair down a little. Look at it, as a fresh start to new beginnings, and it will set the tone for a wonderful new  week.  Make the best of it, because complaining about it, will get you nowhere.  It’s all in the attitude and how we perceive things, don’t allow anyone one to ruin your serenity.

Take time out for yourself, even 5 minutes of meditation can do wonders.  Life can be overwhelming at times,  learn to prioritize and compartmentalize, and all things will fall into place eventually.

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Eat well, drink well, and feel well!

Happy Monday from Gina’s Corner!

Shrimp Scampi, Oh-So-Yummy

Pasta is big in my family and there are so many ways to enjoy it. There is a variety of shape to choose from, and the recipes that you can create with them are endless. Today, I would love to share with you my Shrimp Scampi recipe, it is easy and delicious. You can use any size shrimp for this dish.

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Serves: 6 – 8
Difficulty level: Easy

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb of pasta, preferably linguine
  • 1.5 lb extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil + more for drizzling
  • 2 tbsp. butter + more as needed
  • 3/4 cup of dry white wine
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 head of garlic, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parsley for garnish
  • Pasta water, as needed
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, (Parmesan cheese)

PREPARATION:

1) In a large pot, bring water to a boil, and add desired amount of salt.  Drop the Linguine and cook according to package direction. There is NO need to add oil to the water, IF you’re going to stand there and give it a good stir once in a while. This will prevent the pasta from sticking together. I prefer al dente, it literally means, to the tooth.  It’s when the pasta is cooked on the outside but firm on the core. You get this result by reducing the cooking time by 1-2 minutes. Use the package directions as a guideline. I recommend this method because the pasta will cook again in the Shrimp.

2) While the pasta is cooking,  season shrimp with salt and pepper. Over medium-high heat, in a large frying pan, heat the oil and 2 tbsp. butter, sauté shrimp for about 3-4 minutes on one side, turn them, add the garlic, and sauté for another 1-2 minutes. Those are extra-large shrimp and need more cooking time, for smaller shrimp,  cut the cooking time, otherwise, they will become overcooked and rubbery. Shrimp are considered cooked when they become opaque, and obtain a nice pink/orange color.

3) Deglaze with the wine and lemon,  simmer for about 2-3 minutes. Swirl in more butter for a creamy texture, and to add richness to the dish.

4) Drain the pasta (save some pasta water) and pour it in the shrimp, mix well. If you feel like the pasta is too dry, add 1/4 cup of pasta water. This step may not be necessary, please use your judgement as to the consistency you’re looking for.  Add a liberal amount of cheese and stir again until it’s melted. I use this method because everyone in my family loves cheese, otherwise, place it on the table.

5) Plate the pasta, garnish with parsley and drizzle with olive oil. You can serve it with a crostini, which is like a garlic bread, to dip in the sauce and wipe your plate clean. At my home, if the plate is not empty, I take it as my food wasn’t good enough. When someone asks for seconds, I know, I have a winner and it feels wonderful.

My family devoured this dish, and I hope you will enjoy it as much as they did.  It is such a simple recipe, quick and very flavorful. Go ahead, give it a try, you will like it!

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In closing, I’d like to leave you with Sophia Loren’s famous quote: “Spaghetti can be eaten most successfully if you inhale it like a vacuum cleaner.”

Wine pairing suggestions: A nice chilled unoaked Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or a lovely Verdicchio. The choice is yours.

Bon Appetit from Gina’s Kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Costa Rica, Paradise in Central America

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Enjoying the spectacular view of the mountains and the Pacific Ocean

Somewhere in Central America, there is a little paradise called Costa Rica, meaning “rich coast”.  In 2009, it was ranked the greenest country in the world.  It has enchanting rainforests, beautiful tropical birds and adorable monkeys, indigenous to the region. Education is a main priority in Costa Rica, it has a literacy rate of 96%.  The main language is Spanish, however, many people speak English as a second language.The people are warm, and always welcome you with their characteristic phrase, Pura Vida. It literally means pure life and is used as a greeting to wish you “good living”. Part of their food culture is this condiment called Lizano sauce.  It has a sweet, smoky flavor with some tanginess, and makes everything taste better. I always bring a bottle back with me to the US.  They put it on a variety of food,  including their traditional breakfast called Gallo Pinto. It is considered their main breakfast dish of rice and beans mixed together with onions and bells peppers.  This condiment is a staple in every household, and restaurants across the country has it displayed on their table.  Part of their diet includes lots of local fresh fruits and delicious veggies. They also like fresh seafood, chicken and meat. There are many traditional and flavorful dishes, and I always relish them during my visits. This country is known for its delicious coffee,  Cafe Britt.  You will also find more affordable ones at  the supermarkets. 

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Rice with Chicken and veggies

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Delicious Fried Fish

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Seafood Ceviche

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Chicharon, Fried Pork Skins, very traditional

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Shopping in Nosara, a world-renowned yoga retreat

The first time I went to Costa Rica was in 2001, I attended a beautiful wedding held on top of a mountain overlooking the gorgeous views of San-Jose, the capital.  During that trip, I visited the volcano Arenal, and swam in the Hot Springs. I also took a rainforest lift ride, and was amazed by its beauty and vastness.  I fell in love with this enchanting country. I’ve been back four times since my first visit.  Guanacaste is one of my favorite provinces, and it’s located on the Pacific Coast. It’s a 5-6 hour drive from San-Jose. I have also flown on a twin-prop plane which takes about 30 – 45 minutes. I usually stay in a beautiful house, perched on a tall mountain, overlooking the breathtaking views of the pacific ocean. I have also stayed in beautiful resorts and hotels, but, will share more details in future blogs.  Real Estate has skyrocketed in the last ten years, as more and more americans are retiring there, or making it a second home. However, it is still very affordable to live there.

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Unspoiled beaches in Guanacaste ~ Playa Carrillo

I can never get enough of Costa Rica, a small country packed with delicious food, panoramic views, rich cultures and great adventures. I go there to relax, and have fun with loved ones.  I think I’m ready for another trip soon! I hope you have enjoyed this journey with me, and learned something new and interesting about beautiful Costa Rica.

Pura Vida!

 

SIMPLE PLEASURES, LENTIL SOUP WITH PANCETTA (ITALIAN CURED BACON)

Looks delicious Peter! Thanks for sharing another mouth-watering recipe.

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