Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday Morning Hash



If you follow a low fat diet, this is your chance to run away from this post! In trying to follow a gluten free diet, I have increased my fat intake quite a bit. Fortunately for me, my body does much better on fats than grainy carbs. This morning I wanted something hearty and satisfying, but also gluten free...this is what I came up with. I love hash, and have been experimenting with creating hash other than the standard corned beef hash. This is my latest creation!



BACON AND VEGGIE HASH

Ingredients:

2 med red potatoes, diced in medium dice
3 scallions, chopped
1slice red onion, diced fine
2 large mushrooms, sliced
3 slices thick cut bacon, sliced in small pieces
Small piece of red pepper, diced small
salt and pepper


Method:

Cook bacon pieces in large frying pan until starting to brown.
Add red pepper, scallion and red onion and stir until all are starting to brown.
Add mushrooms and cook till all ingredients are well cooked.
Take veggie/bacon mixture out of pan and keep aside.
Put diced potatoes in pan, salt and pepper liberally, and cook on med high heat, turning occasionally, until potatoes are brown on the outside, but soft and tender all the way through.
Add bacon mixture back in and heat through.
Eat alone, or with eggs on the side....(I enjoy my hash straight up...lol)

Bacon and veggie mixture



Potatoes simmering in bacon grease...yum

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter Ham Makes the Best Soup!

The best part of that Easter ham might well be the fabulous soups you can create from the leftovers. This year I made a trio of soups....all different...all delicious. I started out by cooking a split pea soup in my crockpot overnight.

Ingredients:  SPLIT PEA SOUP

1 pound rinsed split peas
1 large onion, chopped
1tsp chopped garlic
2 stalks chopped celery
2 chopped carrots
1 cup mashed potatoes (I usually put 1 chopped potato, but I had mashed them all, so I had to get creative!)
1 box chicken broth 
About 2 cups chopped up ham
3 a 4 cups of water
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Put all ingredients in crockpot and cook overnight. Cool and refrigerate or freeze until ready to eat.

The next morning I got up, ready to start the rest of my soup marathon. I had soaked all the beans overnight in cold water.

Ingredients:  NAVY BEAN SOUP

1 pound pre rinsed and soaked great northern beans
1 ham bone with a generous amount of ham still attached
1 large onion
1 tsp chopped garlic
A little chopped carrot and celery
1 tsp dried sage leaves
1 large bay leaf 
1 box chicken broth
1 quart water
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1tbsp butter
2tbsp olive oil

Method:

Cook onion in butter and olive oil until transparent
Add garlic and stir around
Add carrots and celery and stir to coat with oil and butter
Add pre soaked beans and ham bone
Add chicken broth and water
Season with sage leaves, bay leaf salt and pepper
Cook for several hours.....until beans are tender
Add milk and heat through 
Serve and enjoy....would be great with crusty bread, but then what wouldn't?

I was then ready to start my Cajun ham and bean soup. 

Ingredients:  CAJUN HAM AND BEAN SOUP

1 pound pre rinsed and soaked 16 bean mix.....Throw away the ham flavored seasoning packet...you won't need it!
1 large onion
2 tsp chopped garlic
Chopped carrot and celery...a couple stalks of each
1 jalapeƱo, chopped very fine
Corn.....I used about half a cup of leftover corn from Easter
2 cups chopped ham
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 quart chicken broth....veggie broth would work well too
Chili powder
Cumin
2 bay leaves
Dried red pepper flakes
Cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
(I didn't measure any of these spices, as I was simply "feeling it....lol")

Method:

Put all ingredients in soup pot and cook for several hours, until largest beans are cooked tender.
Serve and enjoy!  This would be fantastic with corn bread....

I freeze all of these soups, and they are fine for several weeks. Here is a pic of my "Trio of Ham Soups."








Sunday, April 20, 2014

Pinterest Party at Jen's

I love Pinterest, but sometimes I think...there aren't enough hours in a lifetime to try all these ideas! Well, my daughter Jen started having Pinterest Parties where everyone brings a recipe from their Pinterest boards (most brought 2 šŸ˜Š.)  Of course, there is wine involved as well. Jen's friend Nancy even brought a bowl of "slushy" which is a fantastic concoction of o.j., cranberry juice, and vodka, all frozen to a slightly mushy consistency and eaten with a spoon....yum!

I have been on a bacon kick, so I decided to try my hand at chocolate covered bacon, and also a bacon jalapeƱo cheese ball which I have made before and it is always a crowd pleaser. First the chocolate covered bacon:

All the recipes I found were basically the same, so I decided to wing it. The first thing I did was to buy some good quality chocolate chips, and some thick cut bacon. I baked the bacon on a rack in the oven at 400 for about 30 minutes....my oven runs on the cool side, so adjust accordingly!  Then you have to let it cool and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes. (I cut mine in half before freezing.) While the bacon is freezing, I microwaved about a cup of the chocolate chips with 2 tsp shortening, stirring very 30 seconds or so till melted. Let it cool a little. After the bacon sits in the freezer for half an hour you are ready to start dipping. I put the melted chocolate in a shallow dish and tried to dip each piece of bacon, leaving just a small un-dipped end on each piece. Set them on wax paper till the chocolate is firm, then refrigerate till ready to serve. I had planned on adding either a white chocolate drizzle, or some finely chopped nuts, but decided I liked the plain bacon and chocolate look (the taste wasn't bad either!)

Next, I made my cheese ball.

I mixed together an 8 oz package of softened cream cheese with a half a cup of grated cheddar cheese. I added some fresh parsley, cooked crumbled bacon, finely chopped jalapeƱo, a little Worcestershire, cumin and salt and mixed it all together. It is easier to roll into a ball if you moisten your hands. After you have shaped the ball, roll it in a mixture of crumbled cooked bacon and finely chopped jalapeƱo......it is delicious! 

Some of the other wonderful treats were Jen's delicious lemon truffles, Val's great carrot cupcakes, Michelle's sliders, and Becky's delicious empanadas....yum! I can't wait till the summer Pinterest Party when we get to try some more delicious recipes from everyone's Pinterest board. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies







Today I decided  to try these cookies that I have been dying to taste! Unfortunately, I did not have all the ingredients that the original recipe called for....This is my adaptation from a recipe in Make it Paleo by Bill Staley and Hayley Mason. I had not nearly enough chocolate chips or bacon, but it came out wonderfully anyway!!  It was a great baking session with my 9 year old granddaughter Ayla, and the result was delicious!





Here is my basic recipe....way different from Staley and Mason, but I do think theirs might be better!

Ingredients:

3 slices nitrate free bacon
half cup maple syrup
3 cups almond flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Half cup coconut oil, melted
Half cup mini dark chocolate chips

Method:

Microwave bacon till crispy....it took about 3 minutes on full power in my microwave
Preheat oven to  375 degrees
Combine dry ingredients in mixing bowl
In small mixing bowl, combine eggs, maple syrup and vanilla extract....mix thoroughly
Pour wet ingredients into dry and beat until combined
Add melted coconut oil into batter and blend until combined
Stir in chocolate chips and crumbled cooked bacon
Drop balls of batter onto un greased cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes
Cool and serve

These cookies were a huge hit, and I can't wait to try them with more bacon and chocolate chips, as originally proposed by Staley and Mason! Thanks guys....these were truly delicious!



Thursday, April 3, 2014

Restaurant Reviews Gone Bad





I had grand plans to go out to dinner last night with friends and write a little blog review of a place we often go as a group. This idea did not pan out as expected. When we got there, almost every facet of the dining experience had gone bad! There were 5 of us there for dinner and it was pretty much unanimous that something had changed....for the worse. I began taking pictures, although it became clear that the pics would not be very appetizing. All five of us agreed that service was worse, food was worse, and presentation of the food was non existent. In fact, the presentation was so poor that I didn't even want to eat my dinner. Here are some pics:



Well, I did taste my dinner and, unfortunately, it tasted as good as it looked. The soup, pictured above, was served slopped all over the edge of the bowl. The fish, also pictured above was swimming in a way too lemony sauce. So, I do want to do some legit restaurant reviews on this blog, but I think I will wait for my next (hopefully better) dining experience.....

Sausage Soup

This soup is a favorite of mine, even though I switch it up and make it a little different each time. After all, that's part of what I love most about soup.....it's so adaptable! I use what I have on hand, and some of my most successful recipes were created from cupboards without much in them. This is my basic sausage soup recipe, but play with it and make it your own.

Ingredients:

1 pound Italian sausage.....I like to use half sweet and half hot sausage
2 onions
1  TBSP chopped garlic
2 quarts chicken broth......I usually use low sodium
1 can beans.....I prefer kidney beans, but have used cannelini with equally good results
1 cup frozen chopped kale (I keep frozen on hand so I always have it, but I do prefer fresh if possible)
2 or 3 chopped red potatoes, or half a package of frozen tortellini
1 rind of Parmesan cheese, or simply put a chunk of parm in if you don't have a rind
Basil, oregano, salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Take sausage out of casings and brown in a frying pan with a little olive oil.
2. Drain sausage and set aside.
3. In soup pot, sautƩ onions until transparent, then add garlic to pan and stir to combine
4. Add sausage, chicken broth, beans, kale, potatoes, cheese rind and seasonings to soup pot.
5. If using tortellini, do not add at this point.
6. Simmer for 30 - 45 minutes.
7. If using tortellini, add now and cook according to directions on package.....usually about 8 - 10 min

Serve with extra grated Parmesan, and a drizzle of good olive oil.


Note:  last time I cooked onions with a couple of chopped bacon slices, and it was extra yummy!


Not Soup!

This recipe is not a soup recipe, but it has received rave reviews, so I decided to post it here. After seeing a recipe for avocado chicken salad, I decided to modify it and create a chicken guacamole that would serve as a high protein app. Although I am sort of a "feel it" cook rather than a recipe follower, I think this is pretty close to what I do.



Chicken Guacamole:

Ingredients:

I rotisserie chicken (I am lazy!)
1 red onion
3 or so ripe avocadoes
fresh cilantro
tomato
fresh lime
salt and pepper


Start by peeling the avocado, slicing and putting in mixing bowl.  Mash with potato masher or fork until well mashed.

Chop half the red onion very finely and add to mashed avocado. (You can add more or less, to taste.)

Chop half a tomato finely and add to mixture.

Add chopped fresh cilantro,to taste

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Squeeze juice of 1 lime over mixture and stir to combine.

Take one breast off a large rotisserie chicken (or 2 breasts, if chicken is small)  Chop very finely and add to above mixture.



This is great served with tortilla chips as an appetizer, or would work well as a salad topping on fresh greens.

I haven't done this yet, but if you like spicy, I think some finely chopped jalapeno would be delightful in this!