Blissful Brussel Sprouts

14 Apr

 

Growing up I was not a fan of brussel sprouts. They only graced the dinner table in my midwestern childhood home on Thanksgiving. And they were of the boil in bag variety. In other words, boring, limp and swimming in “butter” sauce. It became, for me, a dish to pass along quickly-without taking any.

Times have changed. Brussel sprouts have become a fav of not only mine but my kids as well. I still won’t eat the boil in bag sprouts, but now I like them raw and shaved in salads. The most delectable way to enjoy them, however, is roasted. With bacon. YUM.

Savory roasted brussel sprouts are so easy to make there is no reason not to start making them. Let’s get started with a look at what is needed for this recipe.

The ingredients needed are fresh sprouts, olive oil, lightly cooked and crumbled bacon, balsamic glaze, and salt and pepper. That is all you need for this heavenly side dish. Don’t eat bacon? Leave it out. No big deal. You can customize this recipe to suit you.

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These simple ingredients are all you need for this delectable recipe!

The brussel sprouts were whole, and I wanted them more in bits size pieces. Halving them would work here,  but first things first. They needed to be washed.

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Wash those sprouts!

 

After they are washed, pick out the bad ones. Hey, nature being what it is, you will have some unusable sprouts.

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Toss any brussel sprouts like this one that are blemished or soft.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. This is a high temperature but these will roast to perfection. Next spend a couple of minutes cutting these in half.

Cut these in half. After cutting them, lay them on paper towels to dry them off.

Lay them on paper towels to dry. This is an important step. If you don’t dry these before going in the oven, they will steam instead of roast. That is not what we are going for here. So lay them on paper towels and dry them on the top as well. Place them on a large baking sheet, a flat pan. Drizzle the olive oil over them. Dust with salt and pepper and scatter the bacon over top. Time to pop this into the oven. We will need to check on them, so set the timer for 10 minutes.

When the timer goes off, take the sprouts out of the oven and give them a good stir. They should be starting to brown and crisp up. Resist the urge to nab one off the baking sheet and sneak a quick yummy taste. Put them back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes. It is that easy. When they are golden brown they are done. Pull them out of the oven, put them in a pretty bowl, and drizzle with balsamic glaze and enjoy!

These delectable little nuggets of yum are irresistible.

You can use these for a side dish along just about anything. Another option is to let them cool, drizzle a light vinaigrette over them, and serve them as a cold salad. So many ways to go with this simple side! Let me know what you do with them! I can’t wait to hear from you!

Recipe:

  • 12 ounces fresh brussel sprouts, cleaned and halved
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 4 slices bacon, lightly cooked and crumbled
  • 1-2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix ingredients together, place on baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Serve immediately, or cool and use in a veggie salad.

Recipe note-

I microwave a couple of pieces of bacon to crumble in this recipe. Easy with very little clean up.

 

 

 

 

Easy Oven Fried Chicken Nuggets

13 Sep

“I am craving chicken nuggets” said me never. Well, almost never. But recently all that was on my mind was crispy chicken. I needed to give in to this craving fast so I decided to make easy oven fried nuggets. Those only need to cook for about 10 minutes.

Time to get started! I needed chicken, a flour dip, an egg wash, and a crumb mixture. I try to keep a pretty well stocked pantry and fridge, so this was a snap to pull together. When I need breading I usually make my own. I just love a little of this and a little of that. I let my mood drive the flavors.

So I mixed up some buttery cracker crumbs with some panko (you can’t beat the light crispiness!) bread crumbs. I added some shredded parmesan cheese for a salty flavor pop. A little pepper, or in this case a lot of pepper, and my breading  was ready.

I made a quick egg wash. For that you simply take an egg, whip it up a bit, add a few tablespoons of water and it is ready. The flour will adhere to the chicken, and the egg wash helps the next layer, the breading, stick. This method all but guarantees a  juicy on the inside crunchy on the outside chicken tender.

Got my assembly line ready for my chicken nuggets!

Before starting my assembly line, I set my oven to 350 degrees to preheat. Then I got out a baking sheet and lined it with parchment paper. Personal preference here, you can also use foil-or nothing at all. Lining the baking sheet helps make clean up easier, so that is an extra step I don’t mind doing!

I then cut the chicken breasts into “finger” size, about 1 1/2 -2 ounces each. Next, I took the chicken pieces, dredged them in flour, gave them a quick dip in the egg wash, then rolled them around to coat in the cheesy buttery crumbs. As you can see, you need not be fussy about having exact size chicken pieces or a totally uniform breading. This recipe does not require perfection to turn out delish!

It is as easy as 1-2-3!

I lined these bits of chicken goodness up on my baking sheet and gave them a light spritz of olive oil. The oven was preheated, so in they went.

Oven ready homemade chicken nuggets!

I could hardly wait for these to be ready. I set my timer for 10 minutes and got my dipping sauces ready. For variety, I decided on a veggie herb laden buttermilk dip, some creamy bleu cheese dressing, and a sweet hot chili sauce. I have never been a ranch dressing fan. I know, weird, right? But if that is your thing, go for it!

Get sauces that you love, pour into little bowls, and get ready for a home YUM!

Out of the oven I could hardly wait for these to cool enough to eat. I piled them on a plate, grabbed my sauces and dug in.

Meaty crispy flavorful nuggets! And so fast! You will never go to the drive thru for nuggets again!

These nuggets were so flavorful with the perfect balance of crispy texture, firm chicken, and savory buttery goodness. Craving satisfied. Bonus-I had leftovers!

That’s the trick-make enough so you can enjoy them for another meal. Layer them on top of a salad, dice them up for a tortilla rollup on the go, or mix them into some mac and cheese! So many options! And there isn’t a bad one in the bunch.

Bon appetite!

 

Sizzling Spuds

30 Aug

Potatoes. It’s a love hate relationship sometimes. Either you love potatoes but want to eat low carb or you don’t like them and they are on every menu. Potatoes can be made a zillion ways and have SO many personalities. They can be dressed as a spectacular side dish (garlicky and mashed), as a magnificent main dish (brisket and cheese loaded baked potato), or as a super little snackie (name your fav chip). Easy or complicated, it doesn’t matter. When the craving strikes bring on the spuds!

I am still not what you would call a huge fan, so I don’t eat potatoes often, but sometimes that nagging craving just won’t pass. Exactly my predicament recently. And I gave into my craving. Creamy potatoes were on my mind, but that wasn’t all. Crispy creamy to be more to the point. Wait…what? Can you have it all? You betcha!

First the right potatoes are needed. For baked, Idahos are the best-good and starchy. And for mashed, I use Yukon Golds. But fingerling potatoes are creamy and can crisp up under the right circumstances. What is better than creamy inside and crisp outside all at once? Soooo yummy! If I am cooking up some spuds, that is the way I want them. And achieving it is easy.

The key is using a cast iron skillet-the perfect utensil to get a nice pleasing char on the potatoes. I started by getting a mixing bowl out and halving the potatoes.

Next these spuds needed seasoning. So I used some fresh chopped basil (my summer garden is still overflowing with basil so I couldn’t help myself!), 2 cloves of fresh garlic roughly chopped, a bit of lemon zest (delicious and bright for summery spuds) and a drizzle of butter and olive oil. I dusted this gorgeous mixture with salt and pepper too.

Into a bowl they go for a bit of seasoning-including chopped garlic and lemon zest!

I gave it a good stir, but something was missing. After a peek in the fridge, I made my decision.

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I couldn’t resist just a sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan cheese to add another savory layer. Another good stir and these were ready for cooking. Got my trusty cast iron skillet out. It is the perfect pan for this job.

I heated the pan up over medium heat, and tossed the spuds in. I patted them into an even layer to let them crisp up a bit. Now patience comes into play.

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The cast iron skillet is just what these taters needed!

They sizzled on the stove top without being stirred for a couple of minutes. This made sure the skin was crisping up. After a stir to move them around, they went into a 400 degree oven to finish up.

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These were delicious! they paired perfectly with a hot spicy pork sandwich!

After about 10 minutes in that hot oven these guys were perfection! I took them out of the oven, let them sit for a minute to cool down, then loaded onto my plate next to a sandwich. This definitely hit all the marks and satisfied my tater craving! I wonder how I will cook them next time! What is your favorite way to cook your spuds?

 

 

 

Tasty Tidbits

18 Jul

Life is changing in ways we couldn’t have imagined just a few months ago and can be somewhat confusing at times. News can saturate us with negativism, leadership is questionable at times, and we cannot move about out lives like we once could. Where is the joy in these times of “quarantine projects” and staying home? For me, even if it is just for my small quarantine crew, it is cooking

Not in the labor of it per se-although I don’t mind it most days. It is the coming together over food that lifts my spirit and feeds my soul. It is sitting at the table eating, chatting, laughing, sharing, listening, and ultimately, connecting.

These days, I tend toward more simple but savory dishes when I set my mind to cooking. Let’s look at two tantalizing tasty treats that are not time consuming. One is simply assembling, the other involves a bit of mixing and cooking.

First, lets go super easy.

For a quick refreshing summer appetizer with minimal ingredients and a few minutes of time, you will have a savory summer delicacy sure to please. This appetizer is in the category of “assemble and serve”. Get these simple ingredients together:

  • Cherry or grape tomateos
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into bite size pieces
  • Your favorite vinaigrette or balsamic reduction
  • toothpicks (the frilly fancy kind if you have ’em)

Take a toothpick, and thread a tomato, basil leaf, and piece of mozzarella cheese. Drizzle with vinaigrette, balsamic reduction, or whatever strikes your fancy. Lay them on a fun pretty little plate or dish. Next, pour a refreshing chilled cocktail and enjoy this fun delectable tidbit.

My favorite “assemble and serve” summer appetizer.

Want something a little more creamy? Got a little more time? Then we can go the dip route. A hot rich dip. Using basic pantry and fridge staples so no fuss. Don’t want to heat up the kitchen? Me either. That is why I grill my savory summer dip in my cast iron skillet. Let’s get some basics together and get started.

You will need:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 can of 8-10 count artichoke hearts
  • I can of diced green chilis
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 t. chopped garlic (substitute with garlic powder if necessary)
  • Salt and red pepper flakes

Just a couple of staples and an easy and savory dip is at your fingertips.

Take the cream cheese out of the fridge about 20 minutes before mixing this up. It needs to soften. Then a can opener, a knife, a large mixing bowl, a rubber spatula and a cutting board is all we need to get this going.

Squeeze the excess liquid from the artichokes and give them a rough chop.

Before mixing this up, go out and get your grill hot. Then give it a good cleaning with your wire brush. Back in the kitchen get your cast iron skillet out. Mix everything together in a bowl but only use half of the cheese. No need to drain the green chilis-just toss the whole can in and keep mixing. When it is all nice and smooth put your dip into your cast iron skillet. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top.

Put your dip into an 8 or 10 inch cast iron skillet.

Cover this with foil and take it out to the grill. Turn the heat to medium and place this on the grill. Close the lid and let it get to work.

Cover your dip with foil and put it on the grill.

After about 10 minutes covered remove the foil. This dip is well on its way to bubbly deliciousness! Let this hang out on the grill for another 15 minutes.

And just like that your dip is done. A nice brown crust along the edge and hot all the way through. Perfecto!

Get your chips out. This is ready! Put a trivet out, line up the chips, and get ready to dip into this…well… dip! It’ll be hot and it needs a few minutes to cool down a bit. On the plus side, your hot oven isn’t competing with your air-conditioning in summer mode. Enjoy this with some refreshing summer iced tea or perhaps an ice cold beer.

Grilled Summer Artichoke Dip

8 ounces cream cheese
1 can of 8-10 count artichoke hearts
I can of diced green chilis
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese
1/2 t. chopped garlic (substitute with garlic powder if necessary)
Salt, red pepper flakes, black pepper (to taste)

About 20 minutes before mixing your dip, take your cream cheese out of the fridge, unwrap it, and place it in a mixing bowl. It needs to soften a bit before assembling the dip. Drain artichoke can and squeeze out additional liquid from the hearts. Roughly chop and put into mixing bowl. Add the sour cream, dices green chilis (undrained) and 1/2 of the parmesan cheese. Mix to incorporate. Add the garlic, salt and pepper. Mix well.

Now get the grill going. If using a gas grill, put on medium heat to preheat. Back inside, take out your cast iron skillet and put the dip into it. Spread to even the dip throughout. Add the rest of the parmesan cheese on top. Cover loosely with foil.

Now that the grill is preheated, turn of half of the grill. Place the dip on the heated side. Close lid for 10 minutes. Remove foil and continue to cook until hot and bubbly, about 15-20 minutes. Bon appetite!

Easy Grilled Beer Can Chicken

4 Jul

You sure have gotten a lot of postcards from me lately about grilling! Now that we have established that anyone can grill let’s keep the good times rolling!

We’ve done fish, vegetables, and salmon on the grill. You may need to take a peek at some past posts and my Youtube videos for a refresher. Find them here.

https://busymomswellness.com/2018/08/27/girls-can-grill/

https://busymomswellness.com/2018/10/29/girls-can-grill-part-ii/

Now it’s time to try our hand at chicken. We love simple and it doesn’t get any easier than Beer Can Chicken. The chicken can be seasoned ahead of time or on the spot. You decide. Pop it onto the grill for an hour and voila! You’ve got a whole chicken done to perfection! And the leftovers (if you have any!!)?  BLISS!

Here is how I made my beer can chicken recently. The chicken got seasoned in the morning and put into the fridge till evening. The morning prep made dinner quick to get ready after a busy day. To season this whole chicken, olive oil and some herbs is all this needed. Oh, a bit of salt and pepper is important as well.

*Do NOT wash chicken ahead of using. That actually increases the risk of food borne illness. Please refer to the food safety tip at the end of the blog.

Seasoning this chicken was a snap.

To add flavor to the chicken, I put season salt, pepper, and some salt free seasoning into a small bowl and mixed them together. The chicken got a drizzle of olive oil (inside and out) and rubbed with diced garlic. A simple sprinkle of the seasoning mixture and this chicken is grill ready. You can make your seasoning with anything you prefer, and slather the chicken with as much or as little as you like. Let your flavor personality shine!

This chicken is perfectly seasoned.

At this point, I wasn’t ready to grill the chicken, so I put it into a gallon size ziplock bag and into the fridge for a few hours.

Zip this chicken up and put it into the fridge for a few hours. 

As afternoon waned into evening, I cranked up the gas grill and put all burners on high. As always, when it was hot I cleaned it with a wire grill brush. When the grill was good and hot, the burners on one side were turned off, and the other side went to a medium heat setting.

Now the fun part. No expensive kitchen doodads needed here. Just get a can of beer and pour 1/2 of it out (you can put it into a cup to drink while grilling). Spray the can with non stick cooking spray. Get two little squares of foil ready. Grab everything and head out to the grill with your chicken.

Open the lid of the grill. Take the chicken out of the bag. Stand it up and slide the can of beer up into the bottom (my mom, always the lady, called that part of the chicken the “toot”) of the chicken. Crimp the foil square onto the bottom of each chicken leg. This will allow the chicken to stand up, tripod style, on the grill and the tip of the legs won’t burn.

Put the chicken on the side of the grill that is opposite the direct heat. Since the chicken is not on the direct heat it will cook slowly, assuring a juicy bird when it’s done. Close the lid for an hour.

When you open the grill, you will get the most lovely golden surprise. Just look at this chicken! The skin is crispy, the inside is moist (thanks to the beer) and the herbs are bright and vibrant.

After an hour you will be rewarded with this gorgeous chicken!

But wait!! There’s more!! Time for the side dish. Choose one that is as easy as this chicken. Let me help.

Take zucchini, cut in half, and put just a spritz of olive oil both the skin and the open fleshy side. Salt and pepper the halves. Since your chicken is on the other side of the grill, go ahead and put your zucchini on the direct heat, skin side up. After about 3 minutes, turn them over so the skin is on the grill. Put some decadent fresh parmesan cheese on the top of the zucchini halves, remove the chicken from the grill, and close the lid.

Easy peasy side dish.

Pull the can out of the chicken toot, loosely tent it in foil,  and let it rest. When the cheese is a little melty and the bottom of the zucchini is grilled (about 2 minutes) take them off the heat. Now ring the dinner bell. Now wasn’t that easy? Tell me what you used as seasoning and how your chicken turned out.

*Food safety tip. Do not wash the chicken after removing packaging. Contrary to belief, this actually INCREASES the risk of cross contamination. Washing the chicken can cause splatter of raw chicken around the sink and onto the counter tops. If this was to touch something ready to eat, such as a salad, the possibility of food poisoning becomes possible. For more information on food safety, go here. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/washing-food-does-it-promote-food-safety/washing-foo

Magnificent Marinade

31 May

You sure have gotten a lot of postcards about grilling from me lately. Let’s keep the good times rolling!

We’ve done fish, vegetables, and salmon on the grill. You may need to take a peek at some past posts and my Youtube videos for a refresher. Find them here.

https://busymomswellness.com/2018/08/27/girls-can-grill/

https://busymomswellness.com/2018/10/29/girls-can-grill-part-ii/

Time for a barbecue season favorite-pork tenderloin. Boosting flavors by marinading the tenderloin first will ensure savory goodness! Making a marinade is easily customizable for individual flavor preferences and simple to create. Just toss together a few  ingredients that are on hand. No need to worry about a special trip to the grocery store for your marinade.

Grab a gallon size ziplock bag and some kitchen basics. For this marinade, I used garlic, dijon mustard, lemon juice and olive oil. My rosemary is flourishing, so I nabbed some of that to add as well.

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Marinades are easy! Just use what you have on hand!

Put all of the ingredients into the ziplock bag. Mush it around so the flavors come together, and add the tenderloin. Zip the bag. Put the marinading meat into the fridge and go about your day. How easy is that?

A marinade can do it’s job in 20 minutes or all day. You decide. No matter what you do, this step will make sure that your pork is tender and delicious.

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Put your marinade ingredients into a ziplock bag, squish them all together, toss in your tenderloin and zip it up!

When dinner time rolls around, take your marinading tenderloin out of the fridge and prepare for greatness. Grab your cast iron skillet, take it out and place it on the grill. Turn on the gas and light to heat up. If you use charcoal on your grill, get your coals hot before placing the skillet on. Once on, close the lid, and let the skillet heat up.

Get the grill and cast iron skillet good and hot. Searing this tenderloin will be important  when it hits the heat. Take your tenderloin, marinade and all, out to the grill. Bring a little oil, salt, and pepper as well. Add just a thin glaze of oil into the pan and let it heat up for a minute.

The tenderloin will go right from the bag into the skillet. Zip open the bag, use tongs to get the  loin out. Let the extra marinade drip off, then add to your skillet. That sizzle is just what you want to hear!

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The tenderloin will have the flavorful marinade on it but needs to be properly dressed up. This is when salt and pepper comes into play. Sprinkle it on the top of the tenderloin while the bottom is searing. Close the grill and let it get to work!

Each side needs about 4 minutes for a good sear. Once that first side has a nice crust on it, give it a quarter turn to an uncooked side. Dust with salt and pepper with each turn.

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Okay so as you can see I tend to go heavy on the black pepper, but I just adore it. The grill is still at about 400 degrees-and just where you want it to be. After each turn, place the lid down, and let this continue to cook.

At this point, the scents wafting around the grill will be amazing. The lovely meaty aromas floating around while this cooks are mouth watering.

When it is good and seared on all sides pull it off the grill. Total cooking time is about 15 minutes for this 1 1/2 pound tenderloin. Once off the grill, remove it from the hot skillet and place it on a plate. Put a few pats of high quality butter on the hot tenderloin, and cover or “tent” with foil to rest. Please don’t skip this step-it is crucial to the tenderness of the meat.

It’s time to eat! Slice through that delicious seared crust into the juicy tenderloin. and wait for the compliments to roll in. Let me know how you make your marinade! I can’t wait to hear from you!

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This tenderloin was tender and flavorful! I served it with roasted veggies for the perfect keto meal!

 

 

Sweet Sauté

3 May
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Yes please! YUM!

Cooking up something fresh is divine. And in this case, quick and easy. There is nothing like the golden bliss of sautéd onions. The house becomes wrapped in the scents of oniony deliciousness wafting through the air. That, my friend, is an epicureans dream.

When cooking onions, cook up a big batch. Why? Well because of their versatility and their big flavor pop. They last for a couple of days in the fridge, and freeze beautifully for 3 months-always ready to pull out and jazz up just about anything,

For this recipe, the onions need to be uniformly sliced. A mandolin makes quick work of slicing onions, and a cast iron skillet practically does the rest of the work for you. First, get everything ready and you can zip through this recipe in no time.

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Just a few simple ingredients to yummy sautéed onions!

Get your skillet warmed up over a slow low heat while gathering prepping ingredients. You will need a couple of sweet onions (I prefer vidalia), butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar.

Time to peel and cut the onions. After your onions are free from their papery outer layer, a mandolin makes slicing the onions a snap, and they will all be the same width. Perfect for sautéing. But if a mandolin is out of the question a good sharp knife will work just fine.

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Slicing vegetables is so easy with a mandolin-a very useful kitchen tool.

After the onions are ready for the pan, turn your heat up to medium. Add about 1-2 tablespoons of butter. Let that heat up, and then gently slip in the onions. Drizzle the oil over the onions and stir.

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Slide those onions gently into the hot skillet.

Just listen to that sizzle as you add the onions! Oh yes, this is simple but special. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over these guys, give them a stir, and let the hot pan do its job.

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Just a dusting of salt and pepper is perfect for these onions.

Salt and pepper is perfect for these sweet onions, but if you are feeling moody or sassy, go ahead and add more spice, like red pepper flakes. That will kick these fellas up a bit! Give this a stir and let the cast iron skillet and heat do the work.

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A quick stir and you can sit back for a bit.

The onions can sizzle on medium heat for about 10 minutes before moving them around the pan a bit. If they seem a bit dry, go ahead and drizzle a bit more olive oil into the pan.  These little beauties should be getting brown-and getting sweeter.

The scents floating though the kitchen when these are cooking are so enticing. Just imagine what you can put these on (a big ol’ sandwich), or into (a succulent rice dish), or along side (a zesty barbecue chicken thigh) or layer onto (a pizza)! Just sayin…

When the onions are sweet, brown, and ready to come off the heat, its time to finish this off right. Grab your balsamic vinegar and layer on some more flavor. Just a bit will add nice balance to these onions.

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A little bit of acid finishes these onions off perfectly.

And Voila! In a snap you have a glorious onion dish. Use them as you wish, and if you have leftovers, they keep in the freezer beautifully for 3 months. Whatcha doing with your sweet sautéed onions? Let me know!

Amys Sautéed Sweet Onions

  • 2-3 sweet onions, sliced thin
  • 2 T. high quality butter
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 t. balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat pan to a medium heat. Place butter in pan, and when melted and bubbling hot, add onions. Stir and add olive oil over the onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir. After 10 minutes stir again. When limp and golden brown, turn off heat, drizzle with balsamic vinegar, adjust seasonings and remove from pan. They are now ready to enjoy!

 

 

 

Simple Smoothie

28 Mar

Staying active, particularly in stressful times, is important. Whether hopping on a bike for a ride, putting athletic shoes on to take a power walk, or picking up weights for a resistance workout, maintaining an active lifestyle is crucial to good health.

After a workout, there is nothing like muscle recovery in the form of a smoothie. It’s icy, refreshing, and packed with nutrition. I make mine from scratch, so I control the ingredients. There is no unwanted sugar, and I can customize the smoothie to my mood-or to what I have on hand. This is what my smoothie consisted of today.

Simple ingredients for a protein smoothie

I pulled out frozen raspberries, plain greek yogurt, chia seeds, cottage cheese, peanut butter powder and milk. The stick blender easily brings it all together. These ingredients are easily customizable for dietary preferences, food intolerances, and allergies. And if you think you can’t have fruit with a low carb lifestyle, keep reading my friend.

Some fruit is okay to include, in moderation, with a low carb lifestyle. And since variety is crucial to a healthy diet don’t ditch fruit entirely, even on a keto diet. Just make informed choices. Did you know that raspberries can be keto friendly? They are a low carb fruit-about 5 net carbs per 100 grams. Since these little berries are packed with vitamins and antioxidants, go ahead and inlcude them (in small amounts) in your meal/snack rotation.

So here is how I built my smoothie from the ground up. I put frozen raspberries into my mixing cup. The chia seeds and peanut butter powder went over the berries. The dry ingredients on the bottom with the fruit makes it easier to mix into the smoothie.

I put the dry ingredients over the berries so they would mix in easily.

Next I added a splash of milk, chia seeds, and peanut butter powder.

Just a splash of milk.

I kept layering the ingredients, so in went the keto friendly protein packed greek yogurt and cottage cheese. Oooh, this was shaping up to be yummy!

Protein packed keto friendly yogurt and cottage cheese went in next.

That’s it. No added sugar or sweetener needed here. The berries will hit that flavor point in this drink. To finish off this delectable treat, I simply put the stick blender in the cup and turned it on. The mixture became velvety. Since the berries were frozen, this frosty treat is already nice and cold! But still, you can add some ice to really chill it down.

Whip this with the stick blender till creamy.

Pour this cold refreshing treat into a glass, add an eco friendly straw, and enjoy your post workout protein recovery drink!

 

Enjoy a Keto friendly high protein treat any time of day!

 

Other add ins for my smoothies inlcude almond or soy milk, unsweetened cocoa (great antioxidants!), an egg white (pasteurized for safety), kale, mint, basil, and crushed ice. Take walks, ride a bike, and stay active. And afterwards, enjoy a delicious treat like a fresh protein and vitamin rich smoothie! What kind of smoothie are you making today? Drop me an email or comment and let me know!

By the way, I use my stick blender a lot. Yes I have a blender as well (hello…margaritas!!) but use my stick blender for homemade sauces, soups, and smoothies. If you can fit this kitchen gadget into your budget, I highly recommend adding it to your kitchen tools.

 

Foraging-Pantry Style

16 Feb

Holidays were so busy this year. I had house guests throughout the season. I dearly love a bustling holiday crowd, but let’s face it-it’s work. Now the holidays have passed with warm happy memories lingering, warming even the coldest of winter days. But I am tired. Which is why I foraged in the kitchen for dinner tonight. It was an epic win. Why? No trip to the store. Created from items on hand. It was easy. And delicious.

It began as a late afternoon (post catnap…isn’t that what weekends are for?) scattered thought-what sounds good for dinner tonight? So I meandered off of the couch and went to the freezer. Score! There was some ravioli that was fresh but had been tossed into the freezer. I pulled it out. It was the starting point. On to the pantry.

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It is a time saver to get fresh pasta. It cooks much more quickly than dried. Don’t have time to cook it? Toss it in the freezer for later!

After flipping the pantry light on and gazing somewhat absentmindedly (my brain may still have been in nap mode!) at the shelves, I silently willed inspiration to come. The ravioli was my center of the plate star, but it needed sauce. Something interesting, fun, different. And above all, quick and easy.

I found a can of artichoke hearts, diced tomatoes, olive oil, and a couple of garlic cloves. The fridge had some fresh celery, butter, half and half, and some leftover chicken stock. I could work with this. So (a lazy) dinner prep got underway.

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This is what I foraged from the pantry and fridge.

I took out a sauce pan, put it on a medium heat, and added about 1 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil. While the butter melted into the oil I roughly chopped some celery stalks and leaves. Listen y’all, there is no reason not to use the entire celery stalk for a sauce. I chopped the garlic as well.

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Start with extra virgin olive oil and good quality butter.

When the butter and oil were hot, the celery garlic mixture went into the pan to sizzle for a couple of minutes. I stirred and kept it on a medium low heat-garlic can burn quickly so it must be watched and stirred.

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The garlic and celery filled the kitchen with delicious aromas. Don’t forget to use the celery leaves!

In between stirs, I drained the artichoke hearts. They were packed in water so after they were drained I squeezed them upside-down over the sink to remove excess liquid between the leaves. After a rough chop I added them to the sizzling garlic and celery. Mmmmmm. The kitchen smelled wonderful.

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Drain your artichoke hearts to control the seasoning in the sauce.

Next in went a can of diced tomatoes, juice and all. Mindful to layer flavors, I added salt and pepper. I keep a salt cellar of a high quality salt and pepper mixture next to my stove. This makes it easy to layer in seasonings as I cook.

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Keeping a salt cellar on the counter is an easy way to layer flavor as you cook.

If adding salty ingredients such as capers to a sauce, I go directly for the pepper and leave the salt out until the last minute, adding if necessary. No capers here, so salt and pepper were a must.

The juice in the tomatoes needed a fresh minutes to reduce and thickness slightly. The heat was still on medium and it took about 8 minutes for this lovely sauce to thicken up. Time to layer some more flavor. A few splashes of chicken stock was sounded yummy.

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Any kind of broth will do for this easy recipe!

After adding the broth, I added a few red pepper flakes as well.  I just can’t stop myself from adding a heat layer. Since this was a recipe for two and Denis is not as fond of heat in a sauce as I am, I went light with just s few flakes. A good stir incorporated all of these lovely flavors.

The sauce was simmering beautifully. Time for the creamy. I added about 1/2 cup of half and half. If you are lactose intolerant you can leave this out. The sauce will still be thick and lovely.

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Oh the creaminess of half and half!

With a good stir and the heat lowered to medium low, this fragrant sauce needed only a few minutes to heat through. I had put a pot of water for the ravioli on, and it was boiling. Time to get the ravioli cooking. It had defrosted and was a fresh pasta. It cooked up in a snap.

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Add a heaping Tablespoon of salt to your pasta water. This not only helps add a bit of flavor to the pasta, the starchy water will thicken any pasta sauce.

Before draining the pasta, I gently removed about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and slowly stirred it into the pasta sauce. A little cooking hint for you-starchy pasta water helps sauce thicken and cling to the pasta. It is a step that is worthwhile to incorporate.

Time to plate this up.  I had opened a can of green beans to cook up quick as a side dish. I chopped up 2 small peppers I’d found in the fridge and added those to the green beans.  Goat cheese crumbles were on hand, so those were lightly sprinkled onto the green beans. Again, this was all foraged from the pantry and fridge. No trip to the grocery store tonight!

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I use my Christmas plates long past the holiday. They just make me happy, so it is usually mid January (okay truth be told maybe even a little later than that) by the time they get put up. Here is the finished super easy dinner. Look at how that sauce clings to the pasta perfectly.

There was just a few ravioli left, so into the fridge they went. My daughter nabbed them the following morning after a long run. Dare I say they were better the next day? Pasta always is! What can you make from your pantry? Send me a postcard and let me know. I love hearing from you!

Artichoke Tomato Sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon each olive oil and butter
  • small stalk celery, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 14 ounce can Artichoke hearts in water
  • 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 4 ounces chicken stock (can substitute vegetable stock for vegetarian option)
  • 4 ounces half and half (may omit for vegetarian option
  • Cooked pasta of choice-enough for 2 people
  • 4 ounces pasta cooking water
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Add butter and olive oil to pan and heat on medium. When sizzling add celery and garlic and turn heat to medium low.  Stir and let cook for about 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, drain and roughly chop artichoke hearts. Add to the pan and stir. After 4 minutes, add tomatoes with the juice. Add salt and pepper. Stir and simmer for 8-10 minutes until slightly reduced and thickened. Gently stir in the stock. After well incorporated, add the half and half, if using.

Let the sauce simmer. Add to pasta and enjoy.

NOTE-If a keto or gluten free diet is your thing, this sauce is also wonderful spooned over a piece of chicken or fish instead of pasta. If this needs to be a vegetarian sauce, leave out the half and half and use vegetable broth. For the dairy intolerant, omit the butter and the half and half. How is that for a flexible sauce? Gotta love that!  Let your imagination run wild with this sauce and let me know what you create!

 

 

 

Pignolia. A Love Story.

29 Dec

Pignolia. Pine nuts. Whatever the name oh how I love ’em! This more than just a passing crush or a fanciful flirtation. J’adore! Flexibility with this seed means that they can go into so many dishes! Are you living a keto, vegan, paleo, or gluten free lifestyle? No problem. Bring on the pignolia. Not only that, with a busy lifestyle, the grab and go ease of pine nuts just add to their fabulousness!

Pine nuts often get overlooked. If you have eaten them in the past and gotten away from them, this is a little nudge to add them back into the mix. If you have never tried them, well, there is no time like the present.

These buttery textured delights can be a perfect addition to a granola snack mix, tossed on a salad, or blended into your favorite pesto and home made hummus. The flavor packed pine nut shouldn’t be saved for the special occasions-add them into the regular rotation of goodies!

Pine nuts are literally the seeds from pine cones. There are many species of pine nuts but don’t let that intimidate you. Don’t let the cost sway you away from these delicious little nuggets either. A little can go a long way.

Why add them into your diet? Pine nuts are rich in many nutrients that boost metabolism and bolster immune system health. So they not only taste delicious, they can help your body resist disease. Also, they are especially rich in monounsaturated fatty acids which can naturally lower bad cholesterol.

And if you still need convincing, look no further than your mirror. Pine nuts are rich in vitamin E. What does that have to do with your beauty regime? Vitamin E is excellent for cells-which helps maintain beautiful skin. Toss that makeup aside and start eating more of these flavor packed kernels.

They are delicious right out of the bag, but toasting pine nuts kicks my love affair with them into overdrive. Why go through the extra step to toast pine nuts? It intensifies their unique nuttiness and adds a slightly firmer bite. Adding them to a recipe, a salad, or even a creamy slice of cheesecake lends a wonderful toasty flavor layer.

And it is easy peasy to do. First simply toss the pine nuts into a dry heated pan. No oil is needed here.  Put them on a medium heat and spread in an even layer.

 

Put the pine nuts in a dry pan.

Keep your eye on them, stirring every few minutes while they heat up. They will become deliciously fragrant as they toast.

As these seeds toast they begin to emit a lovely warm fragrance.

Don’t leave the kitchen-nuts can burn quickly. While they toast, the enticing scents wafting through your kitchen will get your mouth watering!

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When they are perfectly golden brown, remove them from the heat and place them on a plate. It is hard to resist the temptation to pop those delectable nuts into your mouth by the handful while they cool.

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Now you can add them to your favorite recipe or simply sprinkle on anything! Put them on a salad. Add them as a cheesecake garnish. Make a big batch of pesto-some for now and some for later. Create some one of a kind home made hummus. Add them to a granola and nut snack mix. Let your creativity abound! One taste and you will fall in love with toasty pine nuts too!

Basic Pesto:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves
  • 1 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves fresh garlic finely minced
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Use as a sauce for pesto or vegetables, or brush on fish or chicken. 1/2 cup cream may be added for a creamy pesto sauce which is lovely on tortellini.

Hummus:

  • I 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, plus more for garnish
  • 2 T. Fresh lemon juice
  • 2 T. Tahini (may substitute 1-2 T. peanut butter or omit
  • 1 t. paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place all items in blender and blend until smooth. May add more olive oil if necessary for desired consistency. Garnish by sprinkling more toasted pine nuts before serving.