July 29, 2012
The nostalgia is dripping from my entries lately. Never fear, it continues here. Starting in high school my friends and I would go to the Texas Renaissance Festival every autumn. It ran October through November on weekends. The trip was a big deal for us because it did not include parents. Since we could not get permission (or collect the funds) for an overnight trip, our adventure was a freakishly long marathon. A one way trip from San Antonio to the festival north of Houston was at least four hours. The round trip, plus time at the festival (and staying up late the night before leaving) equaled a twenty hour day. It was a lot of fun and a lot of gas station stops. We returned home tired and smelly and happy, with bags smelling of incense and full of Christmas presents. Our first stop in the festival grounds was always along the right edge of the outer ring, to eat our first of many treats – Scotch eggs. They were great sources of protein after the doughnuts we grabbed in Flatonia and the empty calories of candy and chips. Here is a low carb version that reminds me of the festival snack. We will be going to the Maryland Renaissance Festival in August, and I am curious to see if they have them. On this fine Sunday morning while the summer sun shone brightly through the kitchen window I made a batch that tasted so very good, and introduced Little B to the dish – she inhaled her egg and ate some of Big D’s and mine. After the feast was over we lamented the fact we did not include some theme music. Consumption of the next batch will definitely include the tunes of Tartanic! I took guidance for this recipe from here. Have a happy day, and always return to happy thoughts and places whenever you can.
1 pound hot breakfast sausage (we used Jimmy Dean)
8 medium boiled eggs, peeled
1 cup golden flaxseed meal
Salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Combine the meal and salt together on a plate. Using your hands, press the sausage around a hard-boiled egg until it is completely and evenly covered. Roll it in the flaxseed meal to coat it. Repeat with the remaining eggs, then roll them all once more in the meal, because the first layer may get soaked up into the sausage. Place on the foil-lined baking sheet, at least two inches apart. Bake the eggs until the outside is browned and the sausage is cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice in half and serve with mustard, ideally with horseradish mustard.
July 27, 2012
When I was a kid we had a garden in the back yard. We always grew tomatoes, sunflowers, usually included zucchini and often did cucumbers. Needless to say, we ate a lot of fresh vegetables during the summer. Sometimes I looked forward to the gardening – finding fruit and veggies ready to pick or grabbing some of the more elusive weeds while the plants matured. Other times I was not so eager to be a gardener – breaking up all the clods of dirt after they clumped over the winter, or clearing out all the dead plants when autumn came. I remember getting mad at my dad a few times, too. Me, my brother and mom did a lot of the work, but when he talked about the garden it was ‘his’. Ooooh, that got me irked! We would slave away in the heat and he would come out, point to a few things we missed, then head back in to the air conditioned house. I laugh about it now, because we learned so much about plants and self-sufficiency and responsibility, but the perspective was a bit different at the tender age of eight or nine. One thing my mom always did with some of our cucumber crop was make refrigerator pickles. For months there would be at least one jar of pickles in the fridge door – we would come in from playing outside (or gardening) and pinch a few cold, tart slices as a snack. They never lasted very long, which was good, since the simple preparation did not include any heating or effort to sterilize or pasteurize in the process. Since we currently have no garden, or yard for that matter, this batch of pickles was made with store bought cukes. They were big and perfect – the slices were nice and floppy after sitting in the jar for a day or two. Little B enjoyed watching them flop around before pretending to be a tiger and taking a bite. I never knew tigers liked pickles.
Refrigerator Dill Pickles
1 large cucumber, peeled
1 – 2 cups white vinegar (substitute with some water if you want less tang)
½ white onion, julienne sliced
2 tsp sea salt
5 sprigs fresh dill
4 – 6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp mustard seeds
clean glass jar with tight fitting lid
Slice cucumbers into thick coins (1/8 to ¼ inch). Set aside. In a glass jar with tight fitting lid combine vinegar and spices. Put lid on jar and shake. Add cucumber to jar, making sure the slices are not sticking together. Secure lid on jar again and shake vigorously, encouraging the spices to spread out among the slices. Chill for at least 24 hours before eating. I make no promises about pickle viability beyond one week.
July 23, 2012
When I make it a point to avoid processed grains and starchy carbohydrates in my diet I seem to have more energy and lose weight. I also start to crave vegetables. Of course a loaded baked potato or breaded mushrooms don’t really fit the balance I want. Ideally I would crave steamed veggies with some lime juice and herbs, but the reality is I want substance and texture and flavor. These fritters help me balance the need for hearty high fiber veggie variety and a low carb energy source. I was inspired by the recipe here, but tweaked it to make chunkier fritters held together by flaxseed. Low carb and hearty. Yum!
½ large head cauliflower
2 whole eggs
¼ cup flaxseed meal
¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp lime juice
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 tsp fresh thyme
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp chili powder
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp tumeric
pinch cayenne pepper
½ cup olive oil or fat of your liking
Cut cauliflower into little florets and add to the bowl of your food processor. Process on pulse until cauliflower has texture of large grains of cracked wheat*. In a large mixing bowl add the rest of the ingredients and mix until well combined. Add the cauliflower and combine until well coated. Heat a splash of olive oil in a frying pan and add about ¼ cup of the mixture for each fritter. Using a large spoon droop a mound about the size of a baseball into the oil. Cook three or four fritters at a time for 2 – 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown, then keep warm while you cook the remaining fritters.
*I just chopped them up a bunch, resulting in big and little chunks instead of cracked wheat chunks. They were yummy all the same
July 18, 2012
I just spent $3.00 for a big iced coffee. It is not exorbitantly expensive, but probably ten times what it would cost to make for myself. Now that hot weather has invaded my life I could not be less interested in steaming cups of java. Today’s iced drink reminded me that I need to pull out a big jar and grind some coffee. My favorite caffeine boost in the summer is cold brewed coffee. It is easy and delicious and does not require a coffee maker (which we are lacking right now). I like mine with a little cinnamon and cream. Big D tasted this batch – I have made many but he never before partook. As is my opinion, he thought the cold brew made for an extremely smooth, strong finished result. He usually likes triple shot espresso concoctions called sludge or the like, so I was surprised that he liked my little cold brew. I use dark roasted coffee (not French Roast – yuck) and there is no bitterness. Just deep, toasty flavors that only weaken slightly as the ice melts. Of course, there are endless possibilities when it comes to doctoring up the final product with spices and creams and sweeteners. Deep in the summer I lean towards just a splash of cream, then as fall nears I go heavier on the cinnamon and nutmeg, before I finally turn to hot coffee as the summer wind is replaced with cool breezes. I first learned about cold brewing long ago from my old friend Brian, then was reminded of it again years later by the guys over at The Bitten Word. I tweaked it a little since first making it for myself, but their version is wonderful.
Cold Brewed Coffee
1 cup dark roasted coffee, coarsely ground
4 cups cold water
Optional flavors for serving:
Half and half
In a quart sized jar* with screw lid add water and coffee. Screw lid on tightly and shake. Place in refrigerator for 24 hours. Leaving it for more than a day will not hurt it. Strain liquid into another jar or bowl, through a sieve with coffee filter lining it. Rinse jar and return coffee to it. Store in refrigerator. To serve, fill your serving cup about ½ way with coffee and add ice until glass is filled. If the coffee is too strong for you add a bit of water. If you like, stir into the coffee about 1-2 Tablespoons heavy cream, a dash of cinnamon and any sweetener or other spices – the way I like it – or have it straight, which is delicious, too!
*Before my french press broke I would use it for the brewing and straining. It is a smaller volume, but makes for a faster process. The proportions are different, but I try to do 4:1 water to coffee, and it works out the same as using a jar and slightly clumsy process of straining with sieve and filter. When you put it in the fridge leave the plunger up, then before serving gently press it down to filter the coffee.
July 15, 2012
Little B turned three years old this weekend. She loves birthdays and presents, so we planned on making a big deal of it. I really wanted to make her a birthday cake, so I did. The problem I faced was when to give it to her. Friday, the day before her birthday, I could not take it for her to share with her ‘school’ friends because they only allow store bought confections with ingredients listed on the label – all that peanut allergy stuff. I did find a cute cupcake cake for her to share, but I had nothing to do with the making. We were going to the shore for the weekend. I would not be able to prepare her cake at the last minute, so I sneakily made it before we left, while Little B dreamed the night away. I carefully packed candles and a lighter, along with a knife and forks, plates and napkins. In addition to wrapped presents there would be streamers and balloons. I imagined her waking up to a decorated room, a pile of presents and a cake with candles, waiting to be wished upon and blown out before we began a fun-filled day. Well, It happened pretty much the way I imagined. Except for the cake. It stayed safely ensconced in the refrigerator at home. I forgot the darned thing! We easily found a substitute by the end of the day, but geez, what a thing to leave at home! It worked out that she had three birthday cakes in three days. It was a coincidence we hope she does not remember next year. I can picture it now, “Mommy, last year I had three cakes when I turned three. I get four cakes this year because I turn four, right?” This cake recipe is my first foray into using coconut flour – whenever we can cut out processed grains and sugar we do so. I relied on and tweaked the recipe here and Little B loved it. Even after sitting in the fridge for three days it was moist and full of the chocolate Little B requested. I made a dozen cupcakes and a small cake in a 2-cup round Pyrex dish instead of more cupcakes. We had loads of fun this weekend and Little B now knows the birthday song version she calls ‘the zoo song’ – the one that ends “…and you smell like one too!” She is so awesome!
Chocolate Coconut Flour Cake
¾ cup cocoa
½ cup olive oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups powdered erythritol
1 cup coconut flour, sifted
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/3 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup water
8 ounces cream cheese
½ cup butter
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp erythritol
Preheat oven to 365 degrees. Beat together eggs. Add olive oil and vanilla. In separate bowl sift together cocoa, erythritol, baking powder and flour. Add to egg mixture and combine. Add cream and water and stir just until blended. Melt cream cheese and butter and stir together. Add to batter. Bake in 9×5 loaf pan for 45-60 minutes, or fill 12 – 18 lined cupcake papers in a muffin pan, divide batter and cook for 20-25 minutes. Cake is done when toothpick comes out clean. For loaf let cool in pan for ten minutes before turning it out onto cooling rack. If making cupcakes let cool completely before frosting.
To make the frosting whisk together the cream cheese, vanilla and sweetener until smooth. For cupcakes frost each one before serving. If making a loaf I recommend serving the frosting on the side as a spread.
July 12, 2012
Posted by ladybug under beef
, Silver Spring Kitchen
, wheat free Leave a Comment
I must confess. I am a Fed. I work in a tall building in a big complex with uber security at the door and a locked work area with a bunch of cubicles around me. I am a little cog in a huge rolling maze of cogs, but I enjoy the work. Don’t get me wrong, I would prefer cooking all day, but for now I am content with my work, which is challenging and never boring. This time of year is pretty busy for me, reflected by the fact it is longer than usual between posts. I have not cooked for days, but no suffering occurred during the drought. Big D made some wonderful stuff in the evenings and there was enough for me to very much look forward to leftovers at lunch. It will be another couple of months before things slow down, so I make no promises, but I have some yummy ideas – don’t give up on me. I will persevere and post post post! Cooking relaxes me and I cannot stay away from it for long, no matter what. Take these burgers, for example. I had a burger like this at a hole in the wall restaurant somewhere in Alaska. I can’t remember where, but I was surprised how much I enjoyed it – I had expected a hockey puck with sour cream on top, but it was fresh and wonderful. With no lamb in sight my version is a tangy, filling meal that reminds me of my beloved gyros (pronounced ‘yee-rohs’ in my opinion). I had to negotiate with Little B to use the last of our Greek yogurt for tzatziki. She loves it with a little stevia, cinnamon and vanilla for dessert, but I finagled enough from her for the recipe.
½ cup parsley, finely chopped
2 Tbsp oregano, roughly chopped
½ cup mint, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp lime juice (or 2 packets True Lime) http://www.truelemonstore.com/products/true_lime
2 pounds ground beef
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup feta, crumbled
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, stems removed
1 English cucumber, sliced in ¼” coins
1 tomato, sliced
½ red onion, thin julienne
1 cup cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
1 ½ cups Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp parsley, finely chopped
2 tsp mint, finely chopped
2-3 tsp lime juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper, finely ground
First make the tzatziki – doing it right before the meal works, but doing it the day before is better. Combine all ingredients together. Chill until time to serve. For patties whisk together the first eight ingredients. Pour mixture over ground beef in large bowl. Remove your rings, bracelets and watches, then get your hands dirty making sure the egg mixture is well combined with the beef. Squish it and squeeze it until all the herby bits are distributed. Form meat into patties about 4” wide and 1” deep. In large frying pan heat the oil over medium high heat. Add patties and cook until seared, about five minutes. Flip patties and sear the other side. Cover and cook to desired doneness. On a bed of spinach and a layer of cucumber coins (either on a bun or directly on a plate) place a patty. Layer toppings – tomato slices, a glop of tzatziki, feta crumbles and onion. Dig in!
July 7, 2012
I have really been craving stuffed jalapeno poppers. Especially from Snoopy’s in Corpus Christi TX or Los Amigos in Bonham TX. Big D really loves them too, but it is almost impossible to find them without a crunchy, wheaty layer of breading all over them. Since Big D is not a wheat fan (well, he likes wheat, his body doesn’t) I feel a bit of guilt inhaling a plate full right in front of him. To appease us both I came up with the following recipe. From the urging of Big D I added double the jalapenos listed in the recipe for this batch – our sinuses are definitely cleared out now. I don’t recommend it for the faint of heart, but if the crowd you are feeding includes a lot of pepper lovers the go for it. The other ingredient quantities don’t need adjustment. As always, the leftovers a day or two later had a much more rounded taste from sitting around and hanging out together, so mixing it all up and waiting to bake it a day or so would be stellar.
Jalapeno Popper Dip
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
8 ounces mayonnaise
8 ounces Monterrey jack cheese, shredded
4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1 cup pickled jalapenos, roughly chopped
2 ounces Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. In a mixing bowl thoroughly combine the garlic and mayonnaise with all the cheeses except Parmesan. Stir in the bacon and jalapenos. Pour mixture into 9×9 glass baking dish, or glass bread pan or 9 inch glass pie pan – the idea is to use glass to get a crispy pretty finish all around, so the more crispy you like your dip the wider the dish you should use. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top* and pop in the oven for 30-35 minutes until brown and bubbly. A deeper bread pan or casserole dish may need 45-50 minutes to get completely bubbly. Let sit for about five minutes before serving.
*If you want the bready effect of stuffed jalapenos combine about ½ cup of bread crumbs with the Parmesan cheese before sprinkling over the top.
July 5, 2012
I did it! I finally did it! I made a zucchini dish that Big D declared as the best he has ever had. This is a BIG deal. I love zucchini, but Big D does not. As usual, if I cover something with garlic and cheese there is a high possibility of culinary success around here. Besides being absolutely delicious (hot or cold, we discovered) they were a great balance for the spicy meat Big D cooked up to go along with the zucchini – he has promised to guest blog about it soon (nudge nudge). I don’t know if this bread crumb-less version will work with anything other than the powdery Parmesan cheese typically found in shaker-type containers, but I do know the powdery stuff did a great job of sticking, with the help of some egg.
Baked Zucchini Wedges
2 large zucchini
2 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp water
Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Slice zucchini in half, then lengthwise into narrow wedges – at least 20 slices per squash. Make available a large non-stick cookie sheet to receive the prepared slices. Mix together eggs and water, making sure they are well combined. Pour into a shallow bowl or deep plate. In another bowl/plate combine cheese, garlic and salt. Dip each slice into the egg mixture, followed by dipping in the cheese mixture. If they will stand on their skin edge, then set them on the sheet skin side down. If they only stand on a wide, white edge, they will be fine, but will cook brown on the side touching the pan. Bake for about 30 minutes until coating on top starts browning. Serve immediately.
July 3, 2012
Every time we cook up a spaghetti squash we discard the sinew and seeds. The seeds remind me of pumpkins and fall and cooler weather. They are the same shape, size and color as pumpkin seeds, so why not treat them the same? Since it was about 100 degrees today and I would give anything for cooler weather, it made a bit of sense to roast up the squash seeds as a reminder of cooler times past and future. This recipe, although including cinnamon and stevia, is rather savory and did the trick as far as cooling me off. Little B and Big D loved them too. The seeds ended up being a healthy snack that I plan on repeating any time our menu involves seeds and a waiting cookie sheet.
Roasted Squash Seeds
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp chili powder
2 packets Stevia in the Raw
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 – 2 cups spaghetti squash seeds
Preheat oven to 250 Fahrenheit. Separate seeds from sinew and set out to dry on a tray for at least half an hour. Don’t worry about rinsing them – any squash left on the seeds helps to enhance the flavor. In a small bowl combine spices and sweetener, then add the oil. Add seeds and toss until coated. Spread seeds on a cookie sheet, making sure they are spread out as much as possible. Toast for about 30 minutes, until dried out and crispy. Remove from oven and let cool. If not all eaten immediately store in airtight container until somebody decides it is wrong to let them alone and inhales what is left.
July 1, 2012
We love pizza and we love squash, especially spaghetti squash. It is not processed like store bought pasta or the flour used in most pizza crusts. Don’t get me wrong – I love pasta and pizza crust and pretty much any bread I encounter, but it never seems to leave after I eat it. I might as well just glue it on to my hips and butt instead of biting into it, because that seems to be where it goes. Not so with spaghetti squash. It is pretty darned good for you, as I have mentioned before, and is a great way to take care of those pizza cravings, because the wheaty crust of the traditional pizza is just not gonna work with our diet strategy. We have officially thrown up our hands and now make a casserole version of pizza. Yes you need a fork to eat it, but is it really a great loss? Not when it helps me keep my weight down. I am not saying this recipe will help you lose weight, but if you are watching your carbohydrate intake like me, there is nothing better for battling pizza advertisements. The squash does a wonderful job of helping the herbs mix and spread their joy, and thick sliced pepperoni is just heaven to me on a pizza. Omigosh is it good!
1 spaghetti squash
8-12 ounces pepperoni, sliced thick
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups Italian mix cheese (romano, mozzarella, parmesan…)
2 cups roughly chopped mushrooms (or 8 ounces canned mushrooms)
2 Tbsp dried parsley
2 Tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp garlic powder
2-3 tsp sea salt
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp black pepper
Slice squash in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds and sinew. In a microwave safe dish place halves open side down and add about ½ cup water. Cook on high for 10-12 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit. While the squash cools prepare the rest of the dish – start with slicing pepperoni and roughly chopping mushrooms. When squash is cooled scrape out the ‘spaghetti’ with a fork into a bowl. Add mushrooms to the squash along with half of the herbs, salt and pepper and mix well. In a medium to large rectangular baking dish (no larger than 9×13) sprinkle about ½ cup of the cheddar cheese. Add the squash mixture. Take a mix of the cheese, about a cup, and spread on top of the squash mixture, pushing it into the squash a bit. Add the rest of the herbs and spices. Make a layer of the pepperoni, then top with the remaining cheese. Place in preheated oven and cook for 30-35 minutes, until cheese is melted and there is some browning. Let stand outside the oven for about ten minutes before serving. Slice like a casserole and serve with a simple garden salad.