Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Day Late, Dollar Short

Atkins, South Beach, Keto all mean the same thing in my book - LOW CARB! I did the Atkins thing back when it was cool and I lost a TON of weight. Even managed to keep it off for a while BUT old habits die hard and eventually I gained it all back and then some. Now KETO is all the rage and to me it's all the same damn thing. I have been restricting my carb intake because I would like to lose weight but I am not killing myself over it. Pizza has always been the Achilles heel of these diets for me,,,, well that and pasta, and potatoes, and rice. OK I am the Carbo Queen! Anyway, I have been messing with low carb bread substitutes to try and make sticking to the low carb thing a little easier and I finally found something I think I like. I just made a pizza crust and I would not guess that is has cauliflower in it for one minute. The texture is bready and the flavor is not eggy!. It is a melding of cauliflower pizza crust recipe and fat head dough.Even my husband has proclaimed that it was something he could eat. That is really saying something, lol.

1 1/2 C mozzarella Cheese, shredded
2T cream cheese
2 eggs
1 tsp ground psyllium husks and chia seeds
2 tsp prepared pesto
1 1/2C almond flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
2 Cups chopped cauliflower (cauliflower rice), steamed and dried

preheat over to 425F

Place mozzarella and cream cheese in a microwave safe bowl and heat in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until melted and combined
While cheeses are melting, beat eggs with psyllium/chia seeds and pesto
In the bowl of a stand mixer place almond flour, baking soda, salt and prepared cauliflower.
When cheeses are melted add to stand mixer bowl and mix on medium speed
Add eggs
Continue mixing until fully combined. Add more almond flour if mixture seems to wet.

Oil a foil lined baking sheet. Turn out mixture onto baking sheet and press out to desired thickness for pizza or shape into buns. Bake until golden (approx 12-15 minutes)

For pizza, allow to cool after first bake then top with desired pizza topping and bake again at 425F for 10-15 minutes

NOTE: I had bought the psyllium husks in an attempt at another low carb bread recipe that I did not like at all. I believe the brand was NOW and I got it on amazon. It wasn't cheap so I am glad to have found a use for the leftovers. I simply add equal parts whole chia seeds and the ground psyllium husks in a coffee grinder and spin them to make a fine powder.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Holiday Overload

I never thought that these words would EVER cross my lips, but......I am so sick of food right now! I am thinking salad for the next three weeks, at least!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Purge

No, I am not talking horror flicks. I am talking the periodic refrigerator purges where you reach way to the back of the refrigerator to find all sorts of things that need to get used up or thrown away. This purge contained all sorts on things from the last couple CSA shares that were relatively foreign to me. Kohlrabi and Celeriac were at the top of the list. I had NO idea what to do with this stuff and most of the online recipes were either roast or mash. I really didn't want to do either since I wasn't sure if I even liked these things. I started with the kohlrabi - I peeled it and gave it a taste - it tasted similar to raw white potato. I could work with that. I peeled the celeriac - whoa - very strong scent of celery. So, with the potato taste and celery smell I naturally thought I would make soup out of this stuff. I had all sorts of other odds and ends laying around that would lend themselves well to soup. What I ended up with was a banging vegetable chowder that I am hoping will freeze well (fingers crossed) so I can enjoy it through the coming winter months. The stuff was seriously delicious and now I am much less intimidated by those strange vegetables. In addition, this soup is easy to make as a vegetarian or even vegan soup with a few simple swaps and omissions. To make more hearty you could add leftover ham, chicken, bacon or any combination of the three!

Creamy Vegetable Chowder

2 TBS bacon fat (can sub veg oil to make vegetarian/vegan)
1 leek sliced
3 cloves garlic peeled
1 medium red onion peeled and cubed
3 small russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 small kohlrabi peeled and cubed
2 small celeriac (celery root) peeled and cubed
1 can chicken stock (can sub vegetable stock to make vegetarian/vegan)
1 can water
1-2 vegetable bouillon cubes
1 C half and half (omit to make vegan)
4 oz marscapone cheese (omit to make vegan)
3 ears fresh corn kernels or 1 can corn
3-4 small carrots sliced thin
1 generous cup fresh spinach chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

A bacon fat/vegetable oil to a stock pot over medium heat until hot.
Add garlic, leeks, and red onion and saute until soft.
Add potatoes, kohlrabi, celeriac, water and chicken/vegetable stock, bouillon cubes
Place lid on pot and simmer until vegetables are soft
Once vegetables are soft use an immersion blender to puree until smooth.
Add half and half and marscapone cheese and stir to incorporate fully
Add corn, carrots, and spinach and cook until carrots are soft.
Add salt and pepper to taste
Serve hot.


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Holy Sh*t, It Worked!!!

Have you ever had that feeling after cooking up an experiment? This is exactly what happened to me last night. With the onslaught of raw, wet weather that we have been having, I have been cooking some pretty rich dishes; beef stroganoff, Sunday gravy, etc. Hubs declared he wanted something a little lighter and we agreed on a grilled chicken salad of some sort. Then the rains came, and by rain I mean a fucking monsoon! Thunder, lighting, torrential downpours, local flooding; it was horrible. Needless to say, there was no way I was grilling in that. So, I started thinking....what do I have on hand that he likes and will be easy for me to prepare???? hmmmm???? I remembered I had a bunch of homemade pesto in the freezer. Hubs goes gaga for pesto. I also had some plum tomatoes that were starting to shrink so those came in to play. Tomato and pesto go together like bullets and guns. Then, I decided on a casserole to make things easy for me. I started looking at online recipes and discovered that most of the chicken and rice casseroles used quick cooking rice. I only have regular rice so those recipes were out. We had pasta with that Sunday gravy I mentioned so, subbing the rice for pasta wasn't even a consideration. After reviewing a few more recipes I hatched up a plan and I have to tell you, even I was surprised by how well it turned out. I liked it even better a few hours later when it was room temperature (I was nibbling on the rice after my dance class). Here is what I did:

Pesto Chicken and Rice Casserole

2 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, filleted in half lengthwise (you should have 4 pieces)
1-2 Cups pesto sauce
2 Tbs chicken base
2 1/4 C water
1 1/2 Cups white rice
1 C half and half
3-4 plum tomatoes sliced 1/4 in thick
2 Cups shredded mozzarella cheese

To begin add water, chicken base and about 2 Tbs of pesto to a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and add rice. Give a quick stir, put on the lid and turn off the heat. Let stand until water is absorbed. Rice will not be completely cooked through, that is what you want.

While the rice is steeping, marinade the chicken breasts in the remaining pesto sauce. I just throw everything into a ziploc bag and mush it all around to ensure everything is well coated.

At this point, you can let the chicken and the rice hang out as long as you want until it's ready to get cooking. I left mine for a couple hours.

When ready to assemble, preheat your over to 350F. Spray the inside of a casserole dish with oil. You want your dish to be large enough to lay the breasts out flat. It is ok if they are squished together as long as they are not layered on top of each other.

Give your partially cooked rice a stir and spread on the bottom of the casserole dish. Pour half and half over rice. Next top the rice with your marinated chicken breast pieces. Top those with a layer of sliced tomatoes. Place the lid on the casserole dish and bake for about 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked. Remove the casserole from the oven and remove the lid. Cover the surface of the casserole with mozzarella cheese and return to the oven for another 10 minutes or until cheese is all melted. If you want to brown the cheese you can hit it with the broiler after it melts but it is not necessary. Let stand a few minutes before serving.

For the record, I did contemplate taking a picture of this for the blog, but it was a white casserole dish covered with white cheese. Not much to look at. Once it was on my plate, I was too busy shoving it into my face hole to take any pictures. Again, it's a casserole and not very photogenic anyway. Just trust me when I say it was yummy even if it wasn't super pretty.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Falling for Fall

Fall is my favorite time of year and not just because it means my birthday. Those, I don't look forward to quite as much as I used to. What I do look forward to it the cool crisp air, the changing colors of the foliage, Halloween and the return of hearty (albeit fattening) comfort food! Soups, and stews, and casseroles, oh my! Inevitable there is a swarm of pumpkin spice this and pumpkin spice that, but, for me, the real flavor of the season is APPLE! This is the time of year when the orchards are bursting with a myriad of apple varieties. I am still trying to figure out the best combination for my maple whiskey caramel apple pie but generally my go to apple for everything is McIntosh. This apple, to me, has the best apple flavor, but in pie it cooks away to nothing. In cake, however, it is PERFECT! This recipe came from the food blog, The Cozy Apron, run by Ingrid Beers. I encourage you to check it out. She has many wonderful things to eat on there. The only tweak I made was to add a little nutmeg.

Apple Cake (adapted from The Cozy Apron)

Ingredients:
7 medium-small apples, unpeeled (Ingrid uses Gala, I used McIntosh)
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/4 cup brown sugar, plus 2 tablespoons, divided use
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 cup melted unsalted butter, slightly cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Sour Cream Drizzle Ingredients:
4 1/2 tablespoons sour cream
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Instructions:
Prepare the cake: preheat the oven to 350°, and mist a bundt pan, or similar style cake pan, with cooking spray.

Prepare two bowls, and begin by grating the unpeeled gala apples (using a box grater onto) a work surface; then, take a handfuls of the grated apples, and squeeze as much of the juice out of them into one of the bowls as possible, and place the squeezed-out apples into the other bowl; repeat the process until all the grated apples have been squeezed of their juice, and set them aside for a moment.

Strain the squeezed-out juice, and set it aside for a moment. (You will need a total of 3/4 cup of juice for the recipe, so if your apples yield more than that, feel free to drink the rest!)

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and ground cinnamon, and whisk to aerate and blend; set aside for a moment.

To a large bowl, add the 1 1/4 cups brown sugar, the granulated sugar, the eggs and the vanilla, and with a hand mixer, beat those ingredients on low for about 2 minutes until fluffy; next, add in the melted butter, and continue to mix for another 30 seconds or so, until incorporated.

To the sugar/egg/butter mixture, add about 1/3 of the flour mixture, and carefully mix that until incorporated; add another 1/3, and mix to incorporate, then the final 1/3 and again mix to incorporate well.

Finally, add the grated apples into the batter along with about 6 tablespoons (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) of the reserved apple juice squeezed from the grated apples, and fold that in with a spatula until well blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake for about 50-55 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean; allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 5-10 minutes.

While the cake bakes, prepare your sour cream drizzle: in a small bowl, carefully combine the sour cream and the powdered sugar with a whisk until smooth, adding 1-2 tablespoons of water to reach your desired consistency; keep in fridge until ready to glaze your cake.

Prepare your apple “syrup”: combine the remainder of the reserved apple juice (roughly 1/2 cup) with the remaining 2 tablespoons of brown sugar in a small sauce pan, and allow it to very gently simmer for a few minutes until glossy and reduced by almost half.

Once the cake is baked and has slightly cooled in the pan for about 15 minutes, carefully turn it out onto a wire rack, and poke a few holes with the wooden skewer into the top of it; pour the apple syrup/reduction over the turned-out cake very slowly, allowing it to absorb into the cake, but don’t worry if it doesn’t completely absorb—it will continue to do so as the cake cools. (I just pour the syrup over the hot cake while it is still in the pan - less chance for a big mess. I use a plastic knife to VERY GENTLY pull the cake away from the sides a bit to let the syrup run down. Then I turn the cake out when it's cooled and all the syrup is absorbed)

Once the cake is completely cooled, pour over the sour cream drizzle, allow to set, and serve!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Ode to Summer

So, yesterday my poor hubs was not feeling well. After a lovely long holiday weekend in New Hampshire/Maine he returned to work with a case of the trots. Poor guy. He requested a meatless dinner, which is not something he ever does but since our vacation entailed a lot of meat laden meals, I was more than happy to oblige. I had a ton of tomatoes from the garden so I knew exactly what to make. This dish takes a little bit of time to make but the process is largely hands off so it is really easy and it just screams of summer. It was a perfect light meal for my hubby's restless tummy.

Angel Hair Pasta with Summer Squash and Tomato Confit

1-2 lbs cherry tomatoes
4 (or more) cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 Cup olive oil
generous pinch of salt
zest of 1 lemon
1 summer squash (green or fellow), grated
1 lb angel hair pasta (cappelini)
3/4 Cup grated paremsan or romano cheese
3-4 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

Preheat oven to 300F
Place tomatoes and garlic cloves in a roasting pan
Add salt and lemon zest
Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat
Bake for 1 hour, let cool

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add pasta
Cook pasta halfway and add grated squash, cook another minute
Drain pasta and squash and return to pot.
Add tomatoes and juices to the pasta and finish cooking over low heat until pasta is done.
Remove from heat and stir in fresh basil and parmesan/romano cheese. 
Serve hot with fresh bread and/or a salad

NOTE: I tried making this with the regular, full-sized tomatoes from my garden and it did not compare. There was too much water and seeds and not enough pulp. The resulting confit was a watery, seedy disappointment so stick to the cherry and plum varieties.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

SMOKIN'

I bought my husband an entry level smoker for Christmas and the weather has finally warmed up enough for us to use it. For our first foray we decided to try smoking something relatively easy - Meatloaf. On a recent work trip to upstate New York my husband had tried some and was eager to see if we could make something as good at home. I think that we did. I used my standard meatloaf recipe that uses stuffing mix. I have made countless meatloaves in my day using a myriad of recipes and, to date, that stuffing recipe is still my favorite. To shake things up a bit and use up stuff in the fridge we wrapped this meatloaf in speck and then basted it with barbecue sauce. After about 2 hours in the smoker we blasted in it a 400 degree over for about 20 minutes to crust up the outside. Definitely a good idea. The resulting meatloaf was fabulous! Although, I do think the speck kept a lot of smoke flavor from permeating the meat. I will have to try is again sans speck to see how the flavors change. I found it to be just smokey enough.