Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Rosie's Cheese Log

Rosie is a very long time and cherished family friend. I'm not sure how old this recipe of hers is, but it's older than me, & I'm older than Star Wars (ep IV) so it's quite old.  This cheese log is something I clearly grew up eating on special occasions and have always loved. For the first time this year, I got the recipe & made it myself. My husband LOVED it & now wants it to be a staple in our house, but it's meant to be "special occasion" cheese log so I'm on the fence about making it weekly. It's very simple to make, & you could add other things like bacon or hot sauce if you like but I'm a purest. This recipe is so old, I like it just the way it is :-)

What you'll need:
Cheeselog ingredients

8 oz brick of cream cheese (room temperature)
4 oz of blue cheese crumbles
1/2 jar of Kraft Old English cheese spread (The jar can be found in the cooler section of your store near cheese spreads, sliced cheeses, cream cheeses, etc)
Worcestershire Sauce (Several dashes)
Chopped Pecans

What to do:
About 1 hour before I make the log, I bring the Old English and the Blue Cheese to room temperature as well. In a large bowl, add all of the cheeses together and using 'masher' mash all of the cheeses until they are incorporated. Then add the Worchestershire sauce and a few pecans to taste, I added 2 tablespoons. Continue to mash until the cheese is smooth.

        Mashing the cheese together

Roll out plastic wrap and pour some pecans onto it. Spoon out all of the cheese mixture onto the pecans and begin to roll the cheese over the pecans (Like a sushi roll) forming the shape of a log in the plastic wrap. As you roll be sure to add more pecans so the entire log is covered in nuts. Keep rolling so the log is as long and wide as you like. Place the cheese log in the fridge and chill for at least several hours before eating. I let it chill overnight.

Rosie's cheese log

 Rosie's cheese log

Enjoy! :-)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Essential Oils

Well when Western Medicine fails, or just costs too damn much, you gotta go back to the basics, so I've been trying some Essential Oils lately, not that they are cheap but they are cheaper than when our insurance charges for a Dr's visit, or what they don't cover at all which is most things in general.

The biggest shock was when my son, age 4, actually let me apply some Lavender oil to his temples, forehead and wrists. Not sure if they've had any real effect yet though he's been pretty good for the last 60 minutes or so. Also had a Lavender incense burning and made a homemade Lavender air freshener for the living room out of rice and a few drops of Lavender oil and Peppermint oil.

The week of 9/19/2014's menu...

I don't make this as often as I used to, but I'm craving it so I'm making it tonight! I still have yet to perfect a fried chicken, and since I only make it but once or twice a year now, I'm wondering if I ever will ;-) I guess there's always hope. Now that I'm trying a still modified but somewhat stricter form of the Paleo diet for myself, I noticed on the cheat-day, like a friend mentioned to me, I do feel sick when I eat garbage food.

Garbage being my own vegan cupcakes (The cupcakes, NOT the frosting) ;-) which contain no actual garbage other than cane sugar and cream cheese, but I guess that's technically garbage. So instead I'm trying to just eat fruit when I crave something sweet but to be honest I'm not sure how long that'll hold up, LOL. My homemade banana bread has yet to make me feel icky but that could be because I've been eating a small sliver of that almost daily for two years, it's dairy free, and the entire loaf only contains a cup of sugar, plus the bananas of course...maybe my system is just used to that banana bread is all...Well here's the menu for the week....enjoy!

Friday: Mostly oven baked fried chicken with fried okra

Saturday: Meatballs and spinach & arugula salad (These are my own recipe, I've not blogged it yet, perhaps I will later in the week. I use half ground beef and half ground lamb, and the typical seasonings that you'd find in a meatballs, some grated cheese and of course, some breadcrumb)

Sunday: Cheat-day, the hubby's homemade pizza with Applegate salami

Monday: Braised chicken w/artichokes and pearl onions and a spinach & arugula salad

Tuesday: Crock Pot Balsamic Chicken over Jasmine rice

Wednesday: Another cheat! Lamb & Pecorino Pasta (I omit the red pepper & I use Capatvi pasta. Since I'm trying to go as low carb as possible, I'll load up more on lamb and cheese for my plate and give the husband and child a bit more pasta)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Very vanilla vegan cupcakes

These are so delicious but they are not really my recipe, but I'll go ahead and post here to share. The recipe I found online uses SOY milk, I DO NOT! So I guess maybe since I changed it, it's kind of my recipe now ;-)

I do not do the vegan frosting but of course you can make it vegan. Don't think just because they are vegan that they taste disgusting. These are some of the best cupcakes you'll ever have. I often just tell people they are 'vanilla' cupcakes and after they tell me how wonderful they are then I drop the bomb on them that they are vegan and they are shocked. Most people are VERY small minded and simply refuse to eat anything vegan for no good reason, and I don't know why. Just because there's no eggs or butter doesn't mean it tastes bad.

In the past I've made these and brought them to parties and people have flat out refused to even try them for the simple fact that they don't contain eggs and butter, I just don't understand that mentality which is why I don't tell people they are vegan now until after they try them. Trust me, they are loaded with plenty of sugar so don't fear ;-) Even though I make 'real' cream cheese frosting people are still afraid. Well I am here to tell the world you CAN EAT VEGAN food and enjoy it! You can even eat the vegan frosting and still enjoy it, I just prefer the real cream cheese. I had to start making these because my son is lactose intolerant so we had no choice. But he's not a huge fan of frosting so he eats the un-frosted ones.

Very Vanilla Vegan Cupcakes
1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar (I use pure cane)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 Tbs Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tbs Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Almond Milk
1/2 cup of oil (Coconut, Veg or Canola)

Preheat oven to 350, Mix all of the dry ingredients together and then in a separate bowl mix all of the wet ingredients together. Add the wet to the dry (Don't use a mixer! Just use a wooden spoon and don't over stir! It's okay if there's a few lumps. If you over stir these cupcakes will be tough.)

I use a ice cream scoop to add the batter to the cupcake liners. This will make about 24 cupcakes. Bake for 12-14 minutes.

Cream Cheese frosting
1 stick room temperature Butter
1 brick room temperature Cream Cheese
1/4 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1-2 cups Powdered Sugar (Depends how sweet you like it) I use about 1-1 1/4 cup

Add 1 stick of butter to your standing mixer on low at first, and then raise the speed to medium. Add the vanilla and beat for about 1 minute. Then add the cream cheese. Continue to beat for about 1 more minute. Stop the mixer and add about 1/2 a cup of the powdered sugar. Start the mixer on low until the sugar is incorporated and then back to medium, wait about 30 seconds and stop. Add more sugar and repeat. Keep adding until it reaches the sweetness level you like. Scrape down the sides so all the butter, cream cheese, and sugar is evenly mixed.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tonight's Dinner, chicken, avocado, bacon & blue cheese chopped salad.

Tonight's dinner turned out GREAT! I mean I knew it would, how could any meal that contains bacon and blue cheese not turn out fantastic? Well it also had all natural chicken, and some tomatoes and AVOCADOS! Oh and I guess I could mention the lettuce but you hardly even notice that.

This is what I made. (salad)

First I started the bacon while I washed and chopped the hearts of Romaine, and the plum tomatoes. I made sure the save the bacon grease to saute the chicken in. I add the blue cheese crumbles, chop up the bacon and then I made the salad dressing. I did alter the dressing just a tad, I didn't add the garlic as we like garlic, but garlic does NOT like us. Instead I did add just a pinch of garlic powder to the dressing. It still tasted wonderful.

I also forgot to buy the green onion but the salad tasted fine without it. I was a bit bummed, but I think instead next time I may try to pickle some red onions instead and put a few of those on top as a garnish. ;-)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Menu for the week of September 11th, 2014

People are always curious as to what I'm making for the week, so here it is. With the exception of Sunday & Monday, everything else is new to me. I spent two and a half hours on Pinterest over the weekend browsing various Paleo sites prowling for recipes. I'm certain I'll tweak all of these. The cheat day will be Chris's homemade pizza which he'll make on Monday. He makes a homemade crust, which I believe is from a Bobby Flay recipe but even he tweaks that some. We use a can of crushed organic tomatoes, Sargento mozzarella, and top with Applegate nitrite free, humanely raised, antibiotic free, & hormone free salami. That stuff tastes great and is well worth the price, plus we get two pizzas out of it (you MUST freeze the rest, since there's no preservatives in it).

None of these recipes, other than the canned crushed tomatoes and Sargento cheese, are processed in any way. All ingredients are antibiotic free, hormone free, nitrite free, & organic when possible. Salad dressings will consist of olive oil with vinegar, lemon, or mustard. Breakfast consists of cage free eggs, with fresh baked bread, or homemade banana bread for our son. Lunch for me is usually almonds bought from the bulk bins and some grapes, rice and beans for the husband, and Applegate lunch meat sandwiches, Annies organic fruit chews, and whole grain fish crackers (hey he's a kid, let him have some fun) for our son. He also LOVES Lara Bars, he calls them 'candy bars.'

Here's the menu for the week:

Thursday: Chicken, bacon, avocado, blue cheese chopped salad

Friday:  Mediterranean skillet chicken w/artichokes & tomatoes, spinach & kale salad, *orzo w/cheese and diced olives 

Saturday: Spinach & bacon stuffed pork loin chop w/blue cheese souffle & spinach & kale salad

Sunday: Greek Salad w/ chicken

*Monday: Homemade Pizza (Cheat day)

Tuesday: Roasted citrus & herb chicken (bone in drum sticks & thighs), *jasmine rice, vegetable (I won't know which vegetable until I go to the store and see what looks good that day)

Wednesday: Honey-whole grain mustard baked rosemary chicken, stuffed tomato, *jasmine rice

* denotes non paleo ingredients for the husband who WANTS to lose weight ;-) but refuses to eat low-carb. I'll have small servings of these items, about 3 tablespoons. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Meat Sauce w/ Fresh Tomatoes, All Day Sauce

After reading this last week (Canned Tomatoes Cause Cancer) I nearly cried knowing that I've been slowly killing myself and family for years. I tend to hate jarred sauces so....fresh-homemade it is! It's work but anything good is worth while. It's probably best to take a whole morning and make a huge batch, and then freeze some for later since it's "simple" but time consuming.

What I made today is what I call an "All Day Sauce" and I don't need to tell you why or how long it takes to make. The longer the meat and the sauce stews, the better it tastes. I find 8 hours to be perfect, but you need a minimum of 3 hours for it to really be worth while. That's the cooking time by the way, not the prep time :-)

What you'll need:
28 or so Roma Tomatoes (Minimum, serves approx 4 people)
1 lb lean ground beef (Or sausage, or a combo of both (1/2 lb each)
Olive Oil
Yellow Onion
Bay Leaf
Spices (Salt, Pepper, Onion/Garlic Powders, Paprika, Oregano, Italian Seasoning, Parsley, Basil...all dried and to taste. I add about 1 teaspoon of each herb and spice, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper)
Bell peppers (Optional, I chose not to use them)
Red Wine
*Red pepper flakes, optional
Fresh Basil for garnish

What you'll do:
First you score and blanch your Roma tomatoes. That means you gently cut little slits into the tomato (I do four) and then boil for about 1 minute. Don't boil all of them at once, I did four at a time. Once they boil to loosen the skins, remove from the water using a spider or slotted spoon and add to an ice bath (This is called blanching). You may notice that the boiling process alone may remove most of the skins.

Lovely fresh Roma tomatoes work best for fresh marina and meat sauce

Score the tomato to help loosen the skin

Add four or so at a time to boiling water for about one minute

Remove and add to an ice bath, then peel with a knife or even your hands (I use my hands) the skin

Blanched tomatoes ready to be skinned

Once they are peeled, slice them in half, very carefully, and then remove the seeds. The seeds hold a lot of water and the sauce will end up being tomato juice otherwise. I like mine just a 'tad' runny so I keep the seeds of maybe 3 tomatoes and remove the juice and seeds from the rest. Then squash the flesh with your hands.

Remove all of the seeds from the tomatoes, if you like your sauce a little thin, keep 'some' seeds from a few tomatoes

Squash and crush them and place in a bowl

After you've squashed them, you'll need a little help from a potato masher to finish the job. (Or use a blender/food processor)

Time to crush!

Crush, crush, crush!

Fresh crushed tomatoes! So vibrant! 

Congratulations! You made crushed tomatoes! Now, let's make the meat sauce. I like to start by dicing a yellow onion. I use a pretty large stock pot over medium-heat and add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. After I add the diced onion, I season it with just pepper and the bay leaf. (If you're adding bell peppers, add them with the onions) Then I start to mince my garlic. After the onion has been sauteing for 5 minutes and are becoming translucent, I add the garlic and a pinch of salt. Since you don't want the garlic to overcook, I just let it saute with the onions for about 3 minutes. Then I remove the onions & garlic from the pan.

Saute the onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil, add salt, pepper, and bay leaf

I use the leanest ground beef I can find

I like to season every layer, so I season the beef & the sauce. I'll season the beef with these, & salt & pepper

Once the beef is cooked, I add the onion & garlic back to the pot

Season the ground beef with salt, pepper, onion/garlic powder, Italian Seasoning, parsley, and paprika, to taste. Once it's browned add the onions and garlic back in. I also add about 1/8th a cup of red wine to the beef at this point.

Always choose a good wine that you'd drink! If you don't want to add wine, add a little beef stock/broth

Now it's time to add your delicious crushed tomatoes! Once they are added, they must be seasoned with all of the same seasonings mentioned above, all to taste. If you want to add some red pepper flakes, add them now.

This fresh, homemade sauce is SO BRIGHT!

Season your sauce well...I start with a pinch of salt

Lots of herbs and then add more wine if you like, 1/4 cup total

Once it's all seasoned, you've made sauce! I bring it to a bubble and then lower to a simmer. Now you have a choice, you can put the lid on and let it simmer for 3-8 hours on the stove-top, or transfer it to a crock-pot set to low. Crock-pot works great for this!

I like a thick, ridged noodle for meat sauce, a rigatoni noodle. Add some fresh basil at the end and enjoy!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Fried-baked chicken...

A few people liked the picture of my fried chicken the other day and actually wanted my recipe! :-) Okay, I'm not KFC so I'll give you my secret recipe....but since I just eye-ball everything, you'll have to do the same. I bought a bunch of chicken drumsticks by accident (I was told to buy drumettes for grilled wings-night) and I wasn't paying attention. We're not huge drum sticks fans but I figure everything taste good fried, so here we go.

What you need:

A package of drum sticks bought by accident (Or any cut of chicken)
"Secret Spices" (Salt, Pepper, Onion and Garlic Powder, Coriander, Cumin, Italian Seasoning, Parsley, Paprika [for flavor and color] Chili Powder [for kick] Thyme, Tumeric [to make them that lovely golden color] Poultry Seasoning. So there's my 13 herbs and spices, well more since Italian Seasoning has a bunch of stuff in it.
Canola Oil

What you need to do:

The amounts of Secret Spice are up to you, but you only have to add a pinch of Tumeric for color, you could add yellow Curry Powder instead, but again, just a pinch as the flavor is very strong. So first make a spice blend dry rub. I add roughly 1 to 1 1/2 TBS of salt and then approx 1 tsp of each of the rest of the spices, except for chili powder and tumeric, I add a pinch of those to avoid too much heat and too strong of flavor. Whisk the spices and herbs into a large bowl. (HINT, if using dried herbs which is all I use, mash them together in your palm first as it strengthens their flavor).

Using your hands, rub the spice mixture all over your chicken pieces and set aside for a minimum of one hour or up to three hours.

Pre-heat oven to 350 and prep a cookie sheet lined with foil and topped with a cooling rack. (If you don't have a cooling rack, just line a sheet with foil) The cooling rack will help the bottom of the chicken get burned and help ensure even cooking. It also helps some of the oil drain.

Get a deep, large pot and fill 1/3 of the way with Canola oil. Using a candy thermometer, wait for the oil to get to 350 degrees at close to high high heat. Meanwhile dredge the seasoned chicken in flour that has been seasoned with additional salt, pepper, onion & garlic powder, and paprika (about 1 tspn of each). Using tongs coat the chicken pieces and shake off any additional flour. When the oil is at 350, add the chicken carefully. If using drums, add no more than 3-4 pieces. The oil will bubble and then the temp will lower. You will be constantly checking the temperature of the oil and adjusting the heat of the stove to try to keep it as close to 350 as possible. Meanwhile dredge the next batch of chicken in the flour. Gently turn the chicken in the pot once. It only needs to fry until the skin is golden, about 5 minutes.

Remove the chicken and place it on the cookie sheet. Wait for the oil come back to 350, and add the next batch. If you are cooking a whole chicken, you would add no more than one breast and a wing at a time, perhaps a thigh and two drums, never crowd the pot. Your tongs may get caked with flour, just wash them or get new clean tongs.

Once all of the chicken is fried, put the cookie sheet in the oven to continue roasting until the chickens are cooked through. The timing will depend on what size and cuts of meat you are using, roughly 15-25 minutes. This will also give you time to work on your sides (fried okra perhaps, cooked in the same oil you fried the chicken in) mashed potatoes, or macaroni and cheese.

Use a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken is cooked through and enjoy!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Just have to post a picture of this!

My creamy beer based bacon macaroni and cheese! Only difference between this and my other recipe posted on this blog is I used elbow macaroni and I didn't top with breadcrumb. This time I topped with more cheese and bacon. I find this way it keeps it a bit creamier :-)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Creamy Tomato & Goat Cheese Soup with Grilled cheese & Ham & Tomato Sandwich

Simple! And since I use olive oil for my grilled cheese instead of butter, it's not as unhealthy as one would think :-)

What you need:
One 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
Goat Cheese (If you don't like this, you can use Creme Fraiche, Greek Yogurt, or Mascarpone Cheese)
Salt, Pepper, Fresh or Dried Basil to taste

Sourdough, Italian, or any kind of bread you like
Medium sliced Ham (or bacon, turkey or any meat you like)
Tomato Slices
Colby-Jack Cheese Slices
Olive Oil

What you need to do:
In a medium sized sauce pan, add the can of crushed tomatoes over medium heat and add the salt and pepper, stir and cover until the soup bubbles, once it does lower the heat to low. Slice the goat cheese (If it's a log) into about a 2 inch slice (or 2-3 tablespoons) and then add to the soup. Add the basil, maybe 1/2 a teaspoon, stir until the cheese is incorporated and cover. Let the soup cook for 10 minutes.

Carefully add the soup into a blender, add the lid and then cover the lid with a dish towel. (the soup is hot and some may leak out of the top once you begin to blend it) Keep pulsing until the soup is well blended.

For the sandwich, add the tomatoes, (salt and pepper them) add one slice of ham and three slices of the cheese. Add some olive oil to the outside of the top slice of the bread.

In a small frying pan add olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the oiled side of the bread facing down and press down on the other side of the bread firmly with a spatula. Once you see the cheese begin to melt, about 60-90 seconds, let go of the spatula and oil the top slice of bread. Flip over and press firmly with the spatula for 60 seconds. As soon as the sandwich is plated, slice it in half and enjoy!

Grilled cheese w/ham and tomato

Plain Grilled Cheese Sandwich

 Creamy Tomato and Goat Cheese Soup

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fork and Knife Nachos

It's pretty obvious, you'll need a fork and knife to eat these nachos! Unless you really want to get your hands dirty!

 What you'll need:
1 lb of ground beef or turkey
1 lb of thin sliced boneless, skinless chicken breast (or tenders)
1/4 cup of chicken broth or stock
1 can of pinto beans (or dried beans that have been soaked overnight)
1 package of 'taco', sharp-cheddar, or queso-blanco cheese
Sour cream
Tortilla chips
[Seasoning for chicken and beef] Onion powder, garlic powder, coriander, cumin, paprika, (chili powder optional and to taste), salt and pepper. Make a mixture in a ramekin and use approximately 1 TSP of each spice, or add more or less to taste.
[Ingredients for guacamole-in-a-hurry]
2 avocados 1 lime, salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, onion powder to taste
*Or see my authentic guacamole recipe from a previous blog post here:

What you'll need to do:
Start chicken in a crock-pot set to 'high' and half of the spice mixture. Since it's thin cuts of meat, this won't take long (Maybe 20-30 minutes).

Add the chicken broth so it doesn't dry out. If you don't have one, simply brown in the pan the same way you do the beef/turkey below. I like to use the crock pot because it makes it juicier and much easier to shred.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown the lowest fat beef/turkey in a pan, drain any additional fat while browning. When it's nearly done, add the other half of the spice mixture.

Drain the beans and rinse and place over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes until the beans are warm.

Spray a large cookie sheet with canola spray and line with tortilla chips.

When the chicken is done, remove from the crock pot/pan and shred with two forks. Top the tortilla chips with the chicken and beef and then top with the beans. Cover with as much or as little cheese as you like and bake in the oven until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.

*Prepare the guacamole and start dicing your tomatoes to top the nachos.

[Dice the avocado small so it's easy to mash, squeeze the juice of one lime, add salt, pepper, onion powder, cumin and coriander to taste and then smash well with a potato masher until it's the desired consistency.] 

When the cheese is melted, remove from oven and top the nachos with sour cream, tomatoes and finally, the fresh guacamole.