Always on the look-out for new dinner ideas, my curiosity was peaked the other day when a friend mentioned she once cooked a chicken with grapes in the oven. After a few instructions, I proceeded to the nearest grocery store and got me a chicken! Who knew there was something I hadn’t done to a chicken! You must try this recipe out, it is delicious! Thanks Cathy for the idea!
- 3 lb whole roasting chicken
- 2 tbsp. honey
- 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1-2 tsp. herbes de provence
- 1 lb of grapes ( I used red but green would work too, any color really)
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Melt the honey and stir in the mustard.
- Rub the chicken with the honey/mustard mix. Sprinkle with the herbs.
- Place in a greased roaster and surround with the grapes that have broken from the stems.
- Roast till the juices run clear, about 1.5 – 2 hours.
- I served my chicken with asparagus, salad and the grapes but I’m sure taters or rice would be nice too!
Winter has been far too long here in Ontario, Canada! I need some summer salads to make me feel good again! Today I whipped up a mango dressing that if I close my eyes, I can almost feel the sun shining down on me. I plan to serve this up with a nice juicy burger and a big helping of salad, if that’s not summer, what is? here’s what you need:
- spring mix
- shredded carrot
- shredded beets
- 1/4 red onion sliced thinly
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 2 tbsp. of seeds (sunflower or pepitas)
- 1 cup raspberries
- 2 oz goat’s cheese crumbled
For the dressing:
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/4 cup rice or apple cider vinegar
- 1 mango chopped
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2-3 tbsp. chopped mint fresh
- pinch salt and pepper to taste
- honey if the mango is not ripe enough
- In a blender, combine all the dressing ingredients till pureed and well combined. Refrigerate.
- Layer the salad with all the ingredients in an order you prefer. Cover and chill till time to serve.
- Toss with the dressing just before serving.
- Would be great on it’s own or with a nice juicy burger or chicken breast or even fish.
If you are lucky enough to get to Playa Del Carmen then I highly suggest you march straight over to Pantanegra restaurant for a lovely dinner! We were in Playa Del Carmen for 2 weeks and only found it on our second to last night there, what a shame! I would have eaten there far more often.
Pantanegra is a Spanish restaurant influenced by the Valencia region. They have been open for just a month now but you will see they are busy most nights. They are open for lunch, closed for an hour or so and then re-open at 7 for dinner. This gives them time to clean, re-stock and prep for dinner. The restaurant offers much wanted shade by day, outdoor dining and indoor when needed. The food is beautiful, so very tasty and the wine is worth going back for! We dealt mostly with Jaime who is Spanish but has very good English. I’m sure that is a big help in a tourist town where many of their guests are English speaking.
On our first night there we tentatively walked up the restaurant which is located on calle 26, close to 10th Ave. It was evening, the white lights twinkled, and then I noticed the candles in the big tree, that’s what got my eye! If someone is crazy enough to put a candle in a tree then by golly, I have to eat there! Frankly there was no signage so I had no idea what kind of food we would get but I like living on the edge!
Jaime came right over and offered us a wine list and I asked him what red he recommended, he brought over a lovely red from Spain and it was perfect. We sipped our wine and he quickly brought over an ‘amuse-bouche’ of pork tenderloin on toast points with a light bruschetta. I can’t have the toast but I did take a piece of the pork as I justified to myself, surely the tomato would stop the bread from touching the meat! I had to try it, it was just so pretty looking. The meat was absolutely melt in your mouth good. My husband who had the whole experience of bruschetta/bread and pork said it was a fabulous combination.The fact that I had never seen this combination before gave me the impression that this place was going to be good.
They like to serve their meals tapas style so they bring one dish out at a time and you share that dish. I love that idea. We really enjoyed our first dish of beef tenderloin in a white wine sauce, served with pine nuts. Again, a combination that was out of this world where your mouth is dancing when the food hits it! I loved it.
Next came our Paella which was a mixed chicken and seafood paella dish that was just so wonderful. We thoroughly enjoyed it and didn’t leave a crumb for the birds or anybody for that matter! It had great flavor, I’m thinking there was saffron in there, a great mix of seafood and it was sizzling when it arrived at our table. What fun to share a dish like that.
Jaime tried to get us to do dessert but truly it is rare for me to find a dessert in a restaurant that is gluten-free and dairy free. This is beside the fact that we were stuffed! So Jaime insisted he’d bring us a liquid dessert. sure enough moments later he showed up with sherry on ice and it was brilliant. I have not really ever been a fan but it was so refreshing and just the right touch to finish off a meal. I was very impressed and left a very happy camper.
With just one more dinner left to have in Playa Del Carmen we had to decide where to have a dinner, a big decision for me. Food is a huge part of my travelling experience. Having eaten at so many wonderful places while in Playa, there was not a doubt when I said to Denis, let’s hit Pantenegra again! And so we did.
On this our last night, Jaime brought over a beautifully presented dish of roasted veggies with goat cheese. You have to picture a plate that is drizzled with a brown sauce, then in the center a round stack of roasted eggplant, then topped with roasted red peppers and topped with melted goat cheese. It was absolutely wonderful in flavor and presentation!
We followed that by a calamari dish that was so good I wanted to lick the plate, but I’m thinking that might have been frowned upon! Because the paella was so good, we had another one of those and it was just as good as the night before! I have to say this is the best paella I have ever had so you must go and try it!
In my opinion is this were a restaurant in my home town, I’d visit it as often as possible. The chef is very talented, the service staff friendly, the atmosphere is warm, elegant and yet fun and an experience to just be a part of it! Please visit Jaime when you are in town and tell him Sweet Marie sent you!
We visit Playa Del Carmen quite often and this year I have to say, was just a shock to us. The city has grown crazily! They now have a shopping mall downtown on 5th, there are condos going up everywhere and the streets were just plain busy. This has to be a banner year for Playa Del Carmen, at least I hope it is!
There are so many things to see in PDC, there’s the beach of course, there’s the ruins, the Xcaret, Xel-Ha, X-Plor, there’s turtle sanctuaries, aviaries, there’s swimming with the dolphins, not to mention para-gliding, and all water sports! The list of things to do is endless!
One of my favorite things to do though is to just walk the streets and find neat little shops. The owners are usually quite friendly and happy to answer my many questions. I know where my grand-kids get their curiosity, from me! I found one such shop while out for our evening walk, it’s called La Catrina!
You absolutely must stop in and meet Ari next time you are in Playa Del Carmen. You will find La Catrina on 14th Calle(st.) just off 5th Ave. Her little shop is filled with all kinds of neat art objects made by local artists. She has paintings, prints, tin work, just about any kind of art you can imagine.
Going into this shop is not just shopping, it’s an experience! Ari not only answered all my questions but offered me a shot of tequila as well! Only in Mexico can you shop and do shots of Tequila! I was in awe of how hard she works to make this shop happen, she has three children, a husband and yet she still manages to work in her shop! They keep her hopping, that is for sure.
You can find her on Facebook by searching for mayanotes2, go ahead and look it up and like her page please! Have a look at what she has there and you will be amazed! Great stuff!
Anyhow, Ari if you happen to read this, I wish you much success with your shop, and may all of your dreams come true! keep doing what you are doing, spread the love!
Some people head to Florida every year and some people take a different trip every year. For the last 5 years or so we have headed to Playa Del Carmen in Mexico for our winter break! We love that we know where most things are and are lucky enough to find new restaurants pop up every year! There is comfort in knowing where to go and where not to bother to go! We just love it there as there is so much to do and we are lucky enough to rent a great condo most of the time! This year we planned late so we spent 4 days in Cancun in a condo, then 7 days at our usual spot then 4 days at Casa Naaj. It may sound like a lot of moving but we had no issues with it. The last couple of moves we just walked to, no biggie.
Casa Naaj was a new place for us to stay in, serendipity landed us on their door step! We found it while looking online for something else and on a whim booked it. The place looks just like the pictures in the photo area of their website, it is very clean, functional and a nice short walk to the beach! You can see for yourself at www.casanaaj.com Their prices are reasonable and they are very helpful and knowledgeable of the area. I would recommend them for sure if you are looking for a condo in the area. The first floor unit is not huge but has an outdoor terrace and has great shade late afternoon after a hot day at the beach! Go visit their website to see for yourself! You can check availability at bookings.com
We spent the first 10 days of our holidays with great friends Paulette and Glen. I have known Paulette for many, many years so travelling together was a no-brainer this year. They spent a lot of time at the beach, who could blame them, while we went off on adventures finding new things to show them and others! We did spend time at the beach of course but we knew after they left, we’d be there a lot, and we were!
On one of our jaunts we found this great frozen treat spot. It was at the corner of 40th Ave and Calle 14. This lady makes homemade frozen treats, picture a drumstick in the shape of a fudgesicle! She had many flavours to choose from too, even some dairy free options! Denis’ favourite treat was the Oreo ice cream, dipped in Chocolate and topped with pecans! Really can you taste it, I was green with envy! I had a pineapple (pina) popsicle, it’s made from fresh pineapple and it’s fresh juice, oh my gosh I have to tell you it was delicious! Best part, they cost 15 pesos each, that’s like a $1.25! She had bananas dipped in a variety of chocolates and nuts, some were peanuts, pecans, walnuts and even coconut! She had a huge variety of fruits too, berries, kiwi, mango, oh I could go on and on. Go for a walk next time you’re in the area and give them a shot, soooo good! We went back a couple of times and I kept telling myself it’s a serving of fruit!
Discovering new things is my favorite part of a holiday and as long as I am with my sweetie then I am game! Having friends there for part of it was a bonus this year, we actually were bored at night after they left as we played cards every night that they were there! I really did enjoy that, even learned a new card game (to us), Hearts. Have you played it? It’s great fun, call Paulette, she’ll teach you how! They know many card games these guys!
I if you get to Playa Del Carmen for a holiday, be sure to spend some time on 5th Ave, it’s fun to hear the vendors try to get you in their shops, one guy whispered to me “come on lady, let me rip you off just a little bit!” I nearly cried out loud when he said that. Never pay what they ask as it’s a game with the vendors to see how badly they can rip someone off! There are some stores tho that don’t barter and that’s where I like to shop, at least I know what I will be paying.
But don’t spend all of your time on 5th Ave, go for a walk. there are many things to see, try 10th Ave or go to the Mega and shop for your groceries. Try dining on 30th Ave, there many local restaurants that are much less expensive then 5th Ave. You will really get the local feeling, and be a part of someone else’s culture. See what they eat, drink and do. Mexicans are lovely people and will welcome you with open arms!
If you’re planning on visiting Playa Del Carmen, keep an eye on my blog. I will be posting more stories this week!