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Add a Tropical Flavor to Your Meals

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The weather is warming up . . . slowly. To help celebrate spring and nicer weather, here are some tasty tropical recipes that I  cook while sailing the Caribbean. Enjoy.

Spinach Salad with Toasted Goat Cheese and Papaya Dressing
Serves 4

For Salad:
1 16 oz bag of baby spinach leaves
4 oz goat cheese
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1 cup macadamia nuts, roughly chopped

For Dressing:
1 15 oz can papaya, or 1/2 cup fresh fruit, diced
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon diced shallots
1/2 cup canola oil

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To make dressing: combine 1/2 cup papaya, sugar, Dijon and shallots in food processor. Pulse to combine, then add vinegar and pulse again. Slowly incorporate the oil until all combined. Set aside.

To make salad: cut the goat cheese into 4 slices and then dredge in bread crumbs. Heat a non-stick fry pan to medium-high and add butter. Once melted, fry the goat cheese for about 1 minute per side, just to toast the bread crumbs. Let rest on paper towels.

Place a handful of spinach leaves on each plate and sprinkle with macadamia nuts. Drizzle with dressing, then top with toasted goat cheese.

Seared Scallops with Sweet Potato Puree and Passion Fruit Beurre Blanc
Serves 4

20 large scallops
3 sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup tomato, diced
2 large basil leaves, chopped
1/4 olive oil
1 passion fruit; 1/2 cup diced, the remainder juiced
7 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup Vidalia onion, diced
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup cream
1/4 cup passion fruit juice
1 small handful cilantro sprigs (optional)

Peel and dice sweet potatoes and cook in boiling water until soft,  about 20 minutes. Strain, mash and add cinnamon, nutmeg, 2 tablespoons  butter and a splash of cream.

In medium saucepan set to medium high, add 1 tablespoon butter and  sweat onions for about 4 minutes. Add wine and reduce by half. Add  cream and reduce by half again. Turn temp to low and add 4 tablespoons  of butter, one tablespoon at a time. Whisk in passion fruit juice and  keep on low heat.

Add diced tomato, passion fruit and basil to a large bowl and toss with oil and basil. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Season scallops with a bit of salt and pepper and sear in a large nonstick frying pan on medium high with 1 tablespoon butter for about 2 minutes per side, until slightly firm.

For service, place a large spoonful of the sweet potato purée in the center of the plate. Place five scallops on top of purée, then a spoonful of the tomato-passion fruit on top of the scallops. Take the sauce and drizzle around the edge of the plate. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and serve.

Grilled Pineapple with Vanilla Ice Cream
Serves 4

4 slices fresh pineapple, about 1/2″ thick, core removed
French vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup orange flower honey
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup sugar in the raw

Drizzle the pineapple slices in the oil then sprinkle with sugar. With grill set to medium, cook pineapple about 1-2 minutes per side, until the sugar has caramelized slightly and you have some nice grill marks. Place each slice in the middle of the plate, top with a scoop of ice cream and drizzle with honey.

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If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1919, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.

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