5 Tips for Success (and Fiverr Offer)

Just created this infographic with my 5 tips for success. If you want a custom one, it’s on Fiverr. 🙂

Five Tips for Success

  1. Visualize the End First: What is your vision? What do you want to accomplish? Knowing what your goal is, and visualizing it in your mind, will help layout a strategy.
  2. Set Up Deadlines: Once you picture your end goal, create the steps to complete it. Establishing deadlines for each step will ensure the goal is finished on time.
  3. Identify Your Hidden Strengths: List all the things that you enjoy doing, and identify why you like doing them. Then, identify your hidden strengths by looking at patterns or behaviors that overlap.
  4. Follow Your Passions: What do you truly love to do? A passion is more than simply liking what you do. Finding that one thing you can pour your heart into will make reaching a goal easier, and more rewarding.
  5. Start Now! What are you waiting for?
5 Tips for Success | Sandandsuccotash.com

5 Tips for Success | Sandandsuccotash.com

Tomato and Mozzarella Tart

Market black box: tomatoes.

What I did with them: made a tart.

tomatoes-ss

If you have a tomato bounty from your garden or your local market, make a tomato tart. I used mozzarella, but other grated semi-soft cheeses would work equally as well: fontina, provolone, even Swiss cheese.

Tomato Tart

Here’s how I made mine.

Tomato and Mozzarella Tart
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Ingredients
  1. Pie crust, enough to line a 8" x 11" square tart mold
  2. About 6 medium tomatoes, sliced (I used half yellow and half red tomatoes)
  3. About 1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
  4. Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  5. Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling, optional
Instructions
  1. Line the tart mold with the pie crust, and press in the sides. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the bottom of the tart pan. Lay the sliced tomatoes evenly over the top. Sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.
  2. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until the crust is browned, and the tomatoes are lightly browned.
  3. Remove from oven and let stand for about 30 minutes or more. Lightly brush a little olive oil over the top before serving.
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Step by step:

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Tomato Tart

Crispy Tempura Batter Made From Sweet Rice Flour and Egg Whites

tempura

Market black box: all kinds of squash.

What I did with them: make tempura.

Tempura batter turns ordinary vegetables into exotic dinner fare, and you can  just about any vegetable.

Here are some tips for tempura frying along with my favorite recipe for tempura batter.

Use an oil for tempura frying with a high smoke point and a neutral flavor, such as canola oil, grapeseed oil (also spelled grape seed) and peanut oil. Extra virgin olive oil is not recommended for tempura frying as it is not only expensive and has a lower smoke point, but it has a very strong flavor that can pass onto the finished foods.

A fryer with programmable temperature settings is handy as it will keep the oil at a constant temperature (not to mention a basket for lifting the finished product), but the tempura vegetables may also be cooked using a saucepan and a skimmer. Adjust the heat to keep it at a constant temperature if necessary.

Vegetables should be sliced or cut into pieces that will cook quickly and evenly in the hot oil. The cuts can be decorative, and a different cutting style could be used for each vegetable for contrast in the finished vegetable dish – crinkle cut carrots, sliced sweet potatoes, onion rings, and stick-shaped zucchini and red peppers.

Here are some suggestions for cutting different vegetables:

  • Root vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips and potatoes – sliced or cut thinly.
  • Zucchini and squash – matchstick slices, julienne or into thin rounds.
  • Beans and peas (fresh green beans, sugar snap peas and snow peas) – use whole.
  • Button mushrooms – whole if small to medium size, cut in half if they are extra large.
  • Onions – sliced into rounds with the rings separated.
  • Broccoli – cut into small flowerets.
  • Bell peppers – if they are small then cut into rounds, otherwise, into triangles or strips.

The recipe for tempura batter below uses both sweet rice flour (from short grain sweet rice) and all-purpose flour. Salt and baking powder are added, along with an egg white and ice cold water. Don’t make the batch ahead of time: make it immediately before frying for best results. Once the tempura-cooked vegetables have browned, remove them from the pot and place on a wire rack for draining. This will help prevent steam from the bottom of the cooked vegetables turning the tempura soft.

Crispy Tempura Batter Made From Sweet Rice Flour and Egg Whites
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Ingredients
  1. 3/4 cup sweet rice flour
  2. 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  3. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. Pinch of white pepper, optional
  6. 1 egg white
  7. About 2/3 to 3/4 cup ice-cold water
  8. Oil for frying
  9. Vegetables for tempura, prepared
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a fryer, to about 350 degrees F. If you don't have a fryer, a cooking thermometer will help.
  2. Place the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  3. Beat the egg white briefly to break it up in a small mixing bowl.
  4. Add the beaten egg white and 2/3 cup of ice-cold water to the dry ingredients and whisk. If the mix looks very thick add ice-cold water about a tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
  5. Dip a few of the prepared vegetables into the tempura batter and place in the hot oil. Repeat, but do not overcrowd the pan as the temperature of the oil will decrease.
  6. Turn as needed to evenly cook the tempura vegetables.
  7. Remove when browned and cooked through, and place on a rack.
  8. Repeat with remaining batter and vegetables.
  9. Serve immediately.
Sand & Succotash http://www.sandandsuccotash.com/

Oven Roasted Beet Salad with Orange Basil Vinaigrette

Market black box: a bunch of beets.

Use the quantities needed for the occasion. Small dinners for two may need only a couple of beets with an orange or two for the recipe, and large family dinners may need a couple of pounds of beets with several oranges. The Orange Basil Vinaigrette can be scaled up as needed, with or without the basil.

By drizzling the vinaigrette over the top of the salad, the colors of the beets will bleed and mix with the vinaigrette, turning it a lovely pink color on the plate. Good for serving with dinner, or top it with walnuts and feta cheese for a light dinner.

Roasted Beet and Orange Salad Recipe
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Ingredients
  1. Whole beets, 1 medium beet per person
  2. Oranges, 1/2 orange per person
  3. Basil leaves, as needed for the salad base
  4. Sunflower sprouts
  5. Oil for roasting the beets
  6. Orange Basil Vinaigrette (see recipe below), or use your favorite vinaigrette salad dressing
Instructions
  1. Take the beets and clean under running water. Pat dry and rub a little vegetable oil on the outside. Place in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until tender when pressed. For larger beets, the baking time may be longer and for smaller varieties, the time may be shorter. Check every 15 minutes during the roasting. Remove from the oven and cool.
  2. Segment the oranges and set aside
  3. Wash the fresh basil leaves and sunflower sprouts. Pat dry.
  4. Peel the beets and place on cutting board. With a knife, cut the beet into sixths, almost cutting through to the bottom but not quite. Beet will still be attached at the bottom.
  5. Place the cut beet on a plate, and gently spread open to an open flower shape. Arrangthe orange segments, basil leaves and sunflower sprouts over the top and around the cut beet. Using a spoon, drizzle some of the dressing over the top. By doing this, the beet will bleed a little bit and the vinaigrette will turn a nice pink color on the plate.
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Orange Basil Vinaigrette
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup canola oil
  2. Juice of 1 orange
  3. 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  4. 3/4 teaspoon salt, or as needed to taste
  5. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  6. 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil leaves
Instructions
  1. Squeeze the orange for its juice into a bowl.
  2. Add in the oil, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and basil leaves. Whisk to combine.
  3. Pour over the beet and orange salad.
Sand & Succotash http://www.sandandsuccotash.com/
 

Salad Nicoise – Would the Real One Stand Up?

Market black box: fresh albacore tuna that hubby caught.

What we did with it: made a Nicoise salad.

There are as many different Salad Nicoise recipes as there are cooks. Some recipes call for tuna and/or anchovies while others forgo the meat altogether: my 1977 edition of Paul Bocuse’s French Cooking ingredient list for Salad Nicoise calls for boiled potatoes, ripe tomatoes, string beans, lettuce hearts, thinly sliced onions, fresh chervil with oil and vinegar (no fish at all). And still, some recipes have the vegetables cooked and others keep it raw. The 1988 English version of Larousse Gastronomique states that “Neither potatoes nor cooked vegetables should be added to this salad.” Hmmm.

While the recipe ingredients and list of ingredients might be different, common elements to most Nicoise Salads include beans, tomatoes, onions, fresh herbs (tarragon, chervil, basil and parsley are common), and an oil-and-vinegar blend dressing. The tuna is usually canned, either packed in water or oil. Anchovies, if used, are sometimes rinsed and patted dry before placing on the plate.

My version uses fresh albacore tuna. I prepare this salad with fresh tuna from what we catch whenever we get lucky landing an albacore. Somehow, the kids don’t mind this kind of tuna salad. The tuna is first poached in a court bouillon and cooled. Experiment with your salad. The other ingredients can be changed as desired.

Albacore Tuna Salad Nicoise
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Court Bouillon Poached Albacore Tuna
  1. 12 oz fresh albacore tuna
  2. 1 celery stalk, chopped
  3. 1/2 small onion, chopped
  4. 1/2 lemon, squeezed into the water
  5. Several twists of freshly ground black pepper
Albacore Tuna Salad Nicoise
  1. 12 ounces fresh poached albacore tuna, see recipe below
  2. 12 ounces small red potatoes, steamed and cut in half
  3. 8 ounces fresh green beans, snapped, trimmed and steamed
  4. 4 small vine ripened tomatoes
  5. Hearts of Romaine, washed and leaves separated
  6. 4 hard boiled eggs, quartered or chopped
  7. 12 each whole kalamata olives, pitted
  8. 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  9. 1/3 cup olive oil
  10. 1 garlic clove, pressed
  11. 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard Fresh tarragon leaves
For the poached albacore
  1. Use a pan large enough to allow the poaching liquid to cover the top of the piece of fish. Add about a quart of water or more to the pan, and add the celery and onion. Bring to a soft boil and reduce the heat to a simmer.
  2. Add in the fresh albacore, adding additional water if needed to cover the top of the fish. Let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the fish tests done - flakes easily and is opaque throughout.
  3. Remove from the court bouillon and let cool.
For the Nicoise salad
  1. In 4 large salad bowls, place a serving sizes amount of Romaine lettuce leaves on each plate. Arrange on each salad plate: 3 ounces tuna, 3 ounces red potatoes, 2 ounces green beans, 1 each tomato quartered, 1 each hard boiled egg, and 3 each kalamata olives.
  2. Whisk together the red wine vinegar, olive oil, pressed garlic clove and Dijon mustard. Drizzle some over the top of each salad. Top with tarragon leaves and serve immediately.
Sand & Succotash http://www.sandandsuccotash.com/

Red Wine Braised Eggplant with Yogurt and Herb Tomatoes

Market Black Box: Surplus of eggplant.

What I did with it: Braised with red wine, and served them with yogurt and herb tomatoes.

Eggplant and tomatoes. I love cooking with both, and they pair up nicely. If you do a quick search in a search engine for ‘eggplant and tomatoes’, you’ll get all kinds of recipes – from bruschetta appetizers to dinner casseroles.

This simple braised eggplant dish is topped with yogurt and tomatoes for an easy meatless meal, but it goes equally well with grilled meats. Leftovers are great when used to stuff pita pocket sandwiches.

Red Wine Braised Eggplant with Yogurt Herb Tomatoes
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Ingredients
  1. 1 medium eggplant, diced, see recipe
  2. 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  3. 1 cup sliced bell peppers (use green, or a mixture of red, yellow and green)
  4. 4 tablespoons olive oil
  5. 1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
  6. 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian blend mixed herbs
  7. 1/2 cup dry red wine
  8. 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  9. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  10. Freshly ground black pepper, or cracked black pepper
For the Yogurt Herb Tomatoes
  1. 3 Roma tomatoes
  2. 1/2 cup plain low fat yogurt
  3. 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  4. 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Instructions
  1. Cut the eggplant into cubes about 3/4-inch in size. Leave the skins on for the recipe. If desired, they may be removed.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a rondeau or large saucepan with a lid (Dutch oven can also be used) over medium heat.
  3. Add in the diced eggplant, yellow onion, and sliced bell peppers. Stir to combine, and cover the pan with a lid. Continue to cook for about 15 minutes over medium heat, stirring every 5 minutes or so, replacing lid after each stirring.
  4. Sprinkle in the dried basil and Italian herb mixture. Drizzle over the red wine and stir to combine. Continue to cook the vegetable mixture for another 10 minutes, covered, stirring frequently.
  5. When the vegetables have been cooked down and the eggplant is tender, add in the chopped parsley, salt, and black pepper. Stir, taste, and add in additional seasoning if necessary. For low-salt diets, omit salt all together.
  6. To serve on its own as pictured above, place in a pastry ring (or use a large, tall round cookie cutter) in the middle of a dinner plate. Using a spoon, take the eggplant and place the vegetables inside the pastry ring until the serving size has been met. Carefully remove the pastry ring and a perfectly round portion will be left. It may help to lift slowly while pressing the edges of the eggplant to keep it in place. Spoon some of the Yogurt Herb Tomatoes over the top and serve.
For the Yogurt Herb Tomatoes
  1. Core the tomatoes, and cut them into a small, even dice.
  2. Transfer to a mixing bowl, and add in the plain low-fat yogurt and fresh herbs.
  3. Stir to combine, and serve with braised recipe above.
Sand & Succotash http://www.sandandsuccotash.com/

Mango and Prickly Pear Sorbet

mango-prickly-pear-sorbet

Market Black Box: Roadside prickly pears – fully ripe and sweet.

What was made with them: Sorbet with mango and rum.

Prickly pears are an incredible tasting and colorful fruit. We get ours fresh from local cactus around where we live but they can also be found in select markets. Unfortunately, most of the prickly pears are harvested before their time so the full, sweet flavor is missing from many supermarket fruit. Their color is gorgeous magenta and their flavor is sweet, reminiscent of figs. If you can get them fresh, they are highly addicting – it is hard stopping at one.

As a cactus fruit, they do come with some advance preparation to remove their prickly spines. I’ve found the best way to remove them is to take a handheld blow torch to them. I hold them with a pair of heatproof metal tongs in one hand and lightly run the flame over the surface. The spines simply burn away.

Prickly pears go with many things, but mango pairs especially well with prickly pears. Find the ripest and sweetest cactus fruits you can find for this recipe as the color and flavor of the sorbet will depend entirely on the quality of the fruit. The same goes for the mangoes.

While an ice cream maker will make sorbet, a regular food processor completes the task easily. Simply freeze the fruit mixture until solid, chop up with a chef’s knife into frozen chunks and process until smooth. This makes a perfect soft-serve sorbet to serve immediately, or freeze if a firmer style is desired.

This fruit sorbet recipe includes dark rum but try whatever liqueurs or brandies are in your liquor cabinet. Suggestions include Midori (melon-flavored), white rum, Chambord (raspberry-flavored), Grand Marnier (orange-flavored), or Kirschwasser (a clear, unsweetened cherry-flavored brandy). A little alcohol contributes to the overall smoothness of the sorbet since the alcohol itself actually helps to inhibit freezing.

Mango and Prickly Pear Sorbet
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Ingredients
  1. 1/4 cup water
  2. 1/4 cup sugar
  3. 1 lb. ripe mango, chopped
  4. 4 oz. prickly pear cactus fruit puree - from the ripest and best quality fruit
  5. 3 tablespoons dark rum
Instructions
  1. Combine the water and sugar in small saucepan and bring to a low boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar completely. Remove from heat and let the simple syrup cool completely.
  2. In a blender or food processor, blend the fresh mango until smooth. If using frozen chopped mango fruit, let thaw completely then puree until smooth.
  3. Obtain the prickly pear puree: carefully peel and chop the fruit of the prickly pear. Place in a fine mesh sieve or chinois and press to extract the juice and pulp. Measure out 4 oz.
  4. In a freezer-safe container, stir the pureed mango, strained prickly pear fruit, and simple syrup. Add in the dark rum and stir well.
  5. Place in a freezer and let the mixture freeze solid.
  6. Remove the frozen mixture from the freezer and chop up into pieces that will fit inside the bowl of a food processor. Process the frozen cubes until the sorbet is smooth and all the ice pieces have been crushed.
  7. Serve immediately, or place back in the freezer for about an hour for a more firm sorbet.
Sand & Succotash http://www.sandandsuccotash.com/

Hot Smoked California Yellowtail

Market black box: Hubbie nailed the yellowtail on a fishing trip.

What I did with it: froze some, and smoked a whole yellowtail. (Yikes! Never smoked before!)

I love hot smoked fish. Depending on where you get it or who makes it, the flavors range from salty to slightly sweet and herby to spicy – simply from the brine recipe. I’ve been hesitant to try smoking but it was one of those culinary techniques that I’ve always wanted to experiment with – read extensively about it but never attempted it. A good fishing day for hubby resulting in gorgeous yellowtail gave me the perfect opportunity to do just that: I can only put so much fillets in the freezer. I decided to do something special to one of them, and try my hand at smoking.

Yellowtail is a moderately fat fish, and is perfect for grilling, sauteing, baking, and smoking. It is found on sushi menus under the name “hamachi”. But don’t confuse this fish for the yellowfin tuna – it is a completely different fish altogether. Yellowtail meat is tender, and is mild and very flavorful. Depending on the size, fresh yellowtail can be filleted or steaked.

Hot Smoking California Yellowtail

The first thing to do is prepare the fish for smoking. The bigger they are the more in depth the process is for gutting and cleaning, but the little boy of the house enjoyed watching me gut and fillet the fish. He even helped, which I was surprised. I reserved two large sides for smoking and cut up the rest for future enjoyment in the freezer.

We don’t have a dedicated smoker so I used our combo BBQ/smoker for the fish. If you do the same, it is important for you to regulate the coals and wood in the firebox to keep the smokerbox at a constant temperature that you’ll need for the job. It took me a while to figure that part out, but once I did, smoking was a relaxing event in the backyard – me reading a book for a few hours and tending to the smoker while the kids played in the pool.

Smoking fish is a form of food preservation, and if done incorrectly can lead to food borne illnesses. I’m a safety girl in the kitchen, practically being obnoxiously so: no licking egg-based covered beaters (sorry kids), observant of the two-hour rule, use of kitchen and refrigerator thermometers, etc. Being in the food service business has its rewards – you can cook anything set in front of you – but also makes you cognizant of the many bad things that can happen if the food isn’t prepared or cooked in a safe manner. So, attempting something like this presented me with a whole new set of worries. But the Pacific Northwest Extension publication Smoking Fish at Home – Safely was an excellent brush up on my smoking knowledge. Also, visit Dana Point Fish Company for a word on brining and forming the pellicle.

Brines are used in smoking to give flavor but are primarily used to control moisture content and inhibit bacterial growth. The use of a cooking thermometer is also important as the fish needs to reach a core (center) temperature of at least 160 degrees F. For me, I’ve found 165 degrees to be a good safety target range. The texture of my fish wasn’t dry, but that may be because the sides were so thick. Once the fish was smoked and cooled, it froze really well in vacuum sealer bags for future meals.

Hot Smoked California Yellowtail
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Ingredients
  1. Fresh yellowtail fish
  2. Salt water brine (see recipe below)
Instructions
  1. Pan dress the fish for smoking - gut and clean the fish, remove head and tail, backbone, and any pectoral fins. If the fish has scales, scale the fish. Remove the bones if desired - otherwise you'll need to be careful when eating it after smoking.
  2. Rinse off the fish with clean water to remove any traces of blood or viscera. Remove any bruises if you see them. You want a perfectly cleaned and clean fish.
  3. Brine your fish using a proper ratio of salt and water and for a recommended time. I used the ratio and time listed in the publication above of 1 cup plain non-iodized salt to 7 1/2 cups of water for an hour. I had to make that two and a half times to completely cover the fish in the brine. I also have a salometer so if you have one, prepare the brine from 60º to 80º SAL.
  4. During brining, fire up the smoker. As I didn't have a commercially dedicated smoker, I built a charcoal fire in the firebox of our BBQ smoker and brought it to a constant temperature of around 200 degrees F inside the main smoker/BBQ part.
  5. Many recipes will call for rinsing the fish from the brine before smoking. Because this was my first time, I overlooked that and skipped it, and just drained the fish and patted it dry with paper towels. My fish turned out fine but was a little salty at the surface. I might rinse it next time but since it didn't affect it negatively, I might skip on purpose next time. Pat with paper towels and let it air dry for about a half an hour to an hour. Lightly oil the racks and place the fish skin side down.
  6. Smoke the fish, tending the fire and coals. Add to the fire or a give a spritz of water to keep the temperature constant. Continually add in wood blocks and chips for constant smoking. Do this for about 2 hours depending on the thickness of the fish. Any hardwood can be used. I used hickory with great results but stay away from conifer wood no matter how plentiful in your area.
  7. Continue smoking and begin to increase the heat until the fish reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees and flakes easily. Time will depend on the thickness of the fish.
  8. Eat fresh, or wrap and freeze for storage.
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