Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Chicken Coleslaw Salad - Quick, Crazy & Good!

This evening I was undecided on what to make for dinner. For lunch, I had leftover Chicken Enchilada Casserole, so I wanted something lighter and simple for dinner. After much hemming and hawing, I decided to make chicken salad sandwiches (on my Sesame Seed Sandwich Buns) and my Easy Coleslaw. As I was mixing up the dressing for the coleslaw, I looked over at the cooked chicken I had just diced up and the bag of coleslaw mix sitting on the counter...I had a flash of "what if"...as in what if I made a combination "Chicken Coleslaw Salad" by mixing them together. So, I tweaked my coleslaw dressing just a little to make it compliment both coleslaw and chicken salad. I added a couple teaspoons of fresh lemon juice for some fresh flavor and a tablespoon or so of capers to add a little salty zing. I mixed the dressing into the diced chicken breast first and then tossed half of a bag of coleslaw mix into the chicken until everything was lightly coated with dressing. Why only half of a bag you wonder? Well...just in case it was horrible, I didn't want to toss out a lot of food or feel obligated to eat a lot of something I didn't care for. I served the Chicken Coleslaw Salad piled on a plate along with some of our tomatoes that I sliced up. It was absolutely delicious! The more bites I took, the more I liked it. Sometimes we need to give in to our "what if" moments. You just never know what good things will come of them. I have enough leftover for my lunch tomorrow, too. Next time I'll make a bigger batch and use the whole bag of coleslaw mix. By now I have either totally grossed you out or you just figure I've lost my mind. There's only one way to find out...make some for yourself. Check out the photos below. Enjoy!


Monday, July 21, 2014

Chicken Enchilada Casserole - Grain Free & Gluten Free

This evening I made my White Chicken Enchilada Casserole. I absolutely LOVE this dish. It tastes as good, if not better, than if I had made it the "regular" way. This is a great dish to make if you have leftover cooked chicken. It is also great reheated, too. I'm looking forward to having leftovers for lunch this week! If you wanted to make this on a busy weeknight, you could make the grain-free tortillas ahead of time (which only take a few minutes to make). You could also stuff them with the chicken and cheese and refrigerate them like that and then just make the sauce on the night you wanted to serve them; pour it over the enchiladas and bake. If you want, you can add cooked peppers and onions to them or whatever else you like -- I've done that and they are good that way, too. This evening I used a combination of cheddar and Monterey jack cheese. Also, one more tip...don't be worried if your sauce initially seems too liquidy after taking them out of the oven because it thickens up nicely. Let it sit for just a bit and the sauce thickens up and becomes creamy and delicious. I snapped a few photos for you to see below. If you've been missing Mexican food...tonight is the night that ends...forever. I promise you that you will be in "grain-free Mexican heaven" with these! LOL I've included the recipe below. Enjoy!

Chicken & cheese filling, grain-free tortillas and creamy sauce to top the casserole before baking
Rolled and ready
Topped with sauce and final layer of cheese...ready to be baked
Fresh out of the oven

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Summer Pasta Ragout & Costco Finds For This Week

Today was a busy day. It was both disappointing and exciting at the same time. We got up early to, once again, clear my kitchen counters and get ready for our tile installer who was scheduled to come and begin work on our kitchen backsplash first thing this morning. As I mentioned before, I had regretfully given up on the mosaic travertine border I had originally selected and had my heart set on and had instead settled for bronze metallic tile inserts on our travertine backsplash tile. When our installer arrived and I laid out what I wanted him to do...he didn't seem to think it was a good idea. He said he would do it but in his professional opinion didn't feel it would look right or that I would be happy with the results. He noticed the piece of travertine border I had sitting on the floor in the kitchen that I had planned to take back and return. He really liked it and thought that would be a much better look. I told him that was what I really wanted but didn't think it would work on my wall area. He showed me what he would do with it and laid it out -- and it is going to work after all! So...our mission tomorrow is to try and find 15 pieces of this travertine border. One of my sons is going to try and find it across town near his work. If he doesn't find it, hubby and I will once AGAIN be driving all over town after work tomorrow trying to find it. So...as disappointing as it was not to get my backsplash started today...in the end, if we can find the border, I will have what I had my heart set on from the beginning. We selected and purchased our wall paint and then ran all our the place doing our other weekly errands which included a trip to Costco.

My sons came for dinner this evening and since we ran around all day, I just kept dinner simple. I made a thick meat sauce using a spicy jarred Arrabbiata sauce that I added to a pound of browned ground round beef, diced yellow squash, and sliced fresh mushrooms. I made zucchini pasta with my Paderno Spiral Vegetable Slicer to serve the thick meaty ragout on. It's quicker to use when I have more than a couple of portions of "pasta" to make. I snapped a quick photo of my "Summer Pasta Ragout" as well as a few of my new Costco finds. I found a 2-pound jar of Ghee (clarified butter) for $10.99; a 2-pound bag of organic chia seeds for $10.59 (on sale); a 2-pound bag of organic pistachios in shell for $13.99 and last but not least...a 3-pound bag of my favorite kind of organic golden ground flax for $4.99 (on sale). The photos are below. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saturday Night Pizza - Low Carb & Grain Free

It was a dark and dreary day here today. It rained all night last night and most of the day today. We ran errands most of the day to prepare for our backsplash tile installation that begins tomorrow and finishes up on Monday. I've given up the mosaic tile border I had chosen -- both because it's too wide for our wall area and because we'd have to go to several locations to get enough. Instead, I've chosen to add bronze metallic tile inserts to add architectural detail to the travertine tile. I think it will look good too...but it's hard not to feel a little disappointed because I really loved that mosaic border. We shopped for paint today, too...and I thought it should be fairly simple since I wanted to go with something simple and fairly beige. Do you know how many shades of beige there are to choose from? I am so over making choices at this point...LOL. It's exhausting and I probably hem and haw more than the average person does. 

While out running errands today, I picked up two new USA baking pans. I am obsessed with these pans. They are some of the nicest baking pans I have ever used. I bought a USA 14-inch pizza pan and a USA 9" x 13" baking pan. I used both of them this evening. I used the pizza pan to make pizza for dinner and my crust turned out unbelievable with it. It was lighter and flakier because of the corrugated surface of the pan. It allows air underneath and nothing...I mean NOTHING sticks to it. As a matter of fact, you have to be careful that your pizza crust doesn't slide off their pizza pan because it's THAT non-stick. I didn't even have to grease or line the pan when spreading the pizza dough out on it. I used the 9 x 13 pan on a project I'm working on and it worked so nicely that I literally threw out my old 9 x 13 pan. I snapped a few photos of my pizza this evening as well as included the recipe. If you haven't tried this pizza crust before...it's worth trying. Enjoy!

Pizza crust before baking

Crust fresh out of the oven
Look how nice the bottom of the crust is...the surface of this pan kept it so nice, light and crisp

Topped with pepperoni, onions and red bell pepper...ready to pop back into the oven
Fresh out of the oven...topped with fresh basil

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Grilled Caprese Chicken - Fresh, Low Carb & Delicious

This evening I wanted to make a meal that would use up some of the ingredients I had an abundance of...namely fresh grape tomatoes and herbs that I had picked from our backyard patio garden. We had too many tomatoes to use up on salads...so I decided to use them as a base for fresh tomato sauce that I made on top of our grill in one of my ovenproof skillets (I used the grill as an outdoor oven to keep the house cool). I had some chicken cutlets in the fridge as well as fresh mozzarella, shaved Parmesan and lots of fresh basil, oregano, parsley and thyme growing in pots out back. All these ingredients pointed me in the only logical direction for dinner...Grilled Caprese Chicken.

I minced a large clove of garlic and added it to an ovenproof skillet with a splash of olive oil and placed it on the grill to begin cooking. After a couple minutes, I tossed in a bowl of fresh grape tomatoes that I had sliced in half lengthwise. I added sprigs of fresh thyme, oregano, Italian parsley and seasoned it with a few grinds of sea salt and black pepper. While that was cooking I spritzed the chicken cutlets with olive oil and seasoned them with salt and pepper. I placed them on the grill to cook alongside the simmering fresh tomatoes and herbs. The cutlets only take about 5 or 6 minutes to cook. I added them in a single layer to my skillet, nestling them in the fresh tomato sauce. I topped them with fresh mozzarella slices, fresh basil and then placed another cutlet on top to sandwich the cheese and basil. I spooned some of the cooked tomatoes on top of the chicken and then topped everything with shaved Parmesan cheese and let it "bake" on the grill for about 5 minutes until everything was melted and ready to eat. It was absolutely delicious and had all the fresh flavors that I love about summertime. This is one of those simple recipes where no measuring is required...you just use what you have and add as much or as little of each ingredient as you like. I snapped a few photos for you to see below. Enjoy!

Fresh mozzarella, shaved Parmesan and freshly picked herbs


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wild Salmon w/ Peppered Dijon Cream Sauce

Today was an unseasonably pleasant day here for a change. It was in the 60s this morning and it felt like a cool fall morning. It was absolutely gorgeous.

Yesterday, we had someone come and remove a big hornets nest we stumbled upon over the weekend in our backyard. I am so relieved to have that out of our yard. After hubby got home from work last night, we ran all over the Atlanta area trying to find and purchase our backsplash tile for the kitchen after our installer called and said he would be here Sunday to begin installation and they hoped to finish it on Monday. He told us to go ahead and purchase the tile. Instead of waiting until Saturday to go pick it up, we decided to go after work last night. When we got there, the store that had it in stock a week ago no longer had any...so we rushed far across town to another location to try and get there before they closed at 9:00. We found part of the tile, but they didn't have my mosaic border...yikes! We didn't get home until after 10:30 last night and hadn't even had dinner yet. Needless to say, we were not only disappointed but exhausted. We planned to go to another a third far away location this evening...but I just needed a break, so we stayed home. If it's meant to be...we will find it in time.

For dinner this evening, I prepared the large 2-pound wild sockeye salmon fillet I picked up at Costco over the weekend. I brushed it with olive oil and seasoned it with a little salt and pepper and then placed it on a medium hot grill (skin side down) and roasted it for about 10-12 minutes until done (cooking it outside kept my kitchen cool). I wrapped it in foil to keep warm while I prepared the quick and easy Peppered Dijon Cream Sauce. Normally, I am not a big sauce fan...but I must admit, this one was delicious. I didn't want a runny sauce...I wanted it to be thick and creamy and a bit creamier than tartar sauce. I used cream cheese to add the thick creaminess to my sauce, along with butter and cream. It was so very simple and I just made it up as I went along until it had the taste and consistency I liked. We enjoyed the rest of the Yellow Cheddar Squash Casserole along with our salmon. It was a quick and easy dinner to put together. I snapped a few photos below as well as included the easy peasy recipe for the sauce. Enjoy!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Quick Chicken Dinner, Yellow Cheddar Squash Casserole & Easy Coleslaw

This evening we had a super quick dinner since we had leftovers from last night's meal. I love this kind of dinner...especially in these dog days of summer. Yesterday we worked all day long; I worked inside the house sorting and organizing the kitchen and hubby worked outside in the yard. With all my cleaning and moving heavy boxes around this past weekend, I somehow tweaked my back so I'm trying to take it easy for a day or two and taking a break from cleaning since it won't go anywhere and will still be there waiting for me when my back is better. While hubby was working in the yard, he stumbled upon a bald-faced hornets nest in one of our shrubs. It's really big...about the size of a football and its right outside my dining room window about 3 feet off the ground. These are the most aggressive type of hornets in Georgia and supposedly if you get within 3 feet of their nest or disturb them, they will attack you and by the hundreds! So, tomorrow I'm having someone come and remove the hornets nest from our yard. It's scary having something like that just a foot or two from the house. 

Last night's dinner was fairly simple since we worked around the house all day long and the leftovers we enjoyed this evening made tonight's super easy as well. Since both my sons were home yesterday, I wanted to have something good for dinner but not too time intensive since we were exhausted from our busy weekend. We just picked up a rotisserie chicken and I made Easy Coleslaw and my Yellow Cheddar Squash Casserole to go with it. It was really nice having the convenience of an already cooked chicken along with 2 homemade side dishes. I snapped a couple photos for you to see below. We all need a break once in awhile and the rotisserie chicken was a welcome break last night! Enjoy!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hot Dog Cheeseburgers - Better than Bacon Cheeseburgers & Low Carb

Today was a busy day. As much as I was hoping to sleep in today, my eyes were wide open before 6:30 this morning! Why is it that I have to drag myself out of bed during the work week...but when I finally have a chance to sleep in, I'm wide awake??? Ugh! As soon as my eyes opened, I began thinking about all the things I needed to do...and as much as I tried to go back to sleep, I couldn't. We got up and out of the house early this morning and stopped at Einstein Bagels for breakfast. I brought 2 slices of my grain free bread and just bought a side (or as they call it a schmear) of cream cheese and their Vanilla Hazelnut coffee. I even brought a cup of Fage yogurt, too! It felt just like "the old days" -- as in before I went grain free. I honestly enjoyed it just as much as I used to. Hubby and I headed to Costco afterward and did our weekly shopping. We always take a cooler with us just in case we want to make other stops on the way back home so we can keep our perishables cool (like the wild salmon we bought). We stopped and did a bit of grocery shopping on our way home. 

As soon as we got home, I began working on my next project...cleaning out our pantry! I have a walk in pantry...or, shall I say I am "supposed" to have a walk in pantry. I have not been able to walk into it for a long time! LOL I proceeded to remove every single item from it and check the dates on everything. I tossed more stuff than I kept. What I realize is that I don't need as much pantry space these days...well, not for food anyway. What I really need is refrigerator and freezer space since almost everything I buy is fresh or made from scratch. I spent a good part of the afternoon working on that project. I'm almost finished...I just need to sort through and organize all my storage containers...but that will have to wait until tomorrow. We ran a few more errands and then it was time to get started on dinner.. 

Since it was so hot and muggy this afternoon and I was exhausted...we made a quick and easy dinner that didn't require heating up the kitchen at all. I decided to make "Hot Dog Cheeseburgers" with a side of coleslaw and fresh grape tomatoes that I quartered and tossed with olive oil, Pomegranate vinegar, fresh fresh thyme and basil and some sea salt and pepper. What are "Hot Dot Cheeseburgers" you ask? Think "bacon cheeseburger" only the bacon is replaced with a sliced hot dog instead.  I made simple ground sirloin burgers (seasoned with Montreal steak seasoning) and then grilled the burgers and hot dogs (Applegate's organic uncured). I served them on my Sesame Seed Buns that I split in half and then topped with a burger, sharp cheddar cheese, a hot dog sliced lengthwise (and placed criss-cross on top of the cheeseburger)...added a squirt of yellow mustard and then finished it by adding the top half of the bun. Voila..."Hot Dog Cheeseburger"! It was SO good. I actually like it better than a bacon cheeseburger. I absolutely love the coleslaw, too. The tomatoes were our own homegrown as well as the fresh herbs. It was such a simple meal and perfect for a hot summer evening. 

I can't tell you how much I enjoy these Sesame Seed Buns that I created. They have made mealtime this summer so much more enjoyable for me than my last 2 grain-free summers. While I don't mind not eating bread...there is just something satisfying about sinking your teeth into a simple sandwich once in awhile. And if you can do so by making a simple and delicious grain-free bun...why not enjoy it? These buns have about 4 to 4.5 net carbs each. If you miss eating a burger on a bun or a simple sandwich...these buns are definitely worth trying! You can find the recipe here: Sesame Seed Buns. Of course, if you prefer not to have the sesame seeds on top...just leave them off. I've included the basic simple recipe for my coleslaw below. Coleslaw dressing is such a personal taste kind of thing in my opinion. I've given you the combination and amounts I used -- feel free to tweak it to your own taste by tasting it as you go. It is so simple that you'll wonder why you haven't always been making your own dressing before! Enjoy!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Main Dish Salad Topped w/ Grilled Chicken - Quick & Easy

Thank goodness it's Friday! Well, this week has been productive with regards to my kitchen renovation project. My dishwasher was installed and my electrical work was done. I haven't had a chance to run my dishwasher yet but plan to do so tomorrow. The only thing left to do is get my backsplash tile installed and do the little bit of painting that needs to be done. Tomorrow I plan to put the rest of the kitchen stuff away that now that all the work in the remaining 2 cabinets is complete. At the moment, we are undergoing a torrential thunderstorm. We made a late night jaunt to Sprouts this evening but I was too tired to do much shopping so we'll go back again tomorrow...yay! For dinner this evening I made quick and simple main dish salads topped with grilled boneless chicken breasts. It was simple, quick and delicious. I snapped a couple photos below. Enjoy!

Love my new sink...it's huge and deep. There's nothing I can't wash in here!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Grilled Spice Rubbed Chicken Topped w/ Fresh Tomato Gratin

This evening I made a quick and easy dinner. I got the inspiration after picking lots of ripe tomatoes from our patio garden when I got home. It seemed like they all turned ripe at the same time and there were way too many for us to eat "fresh/raw". As I sat there staring at the bowls of freshly picked tomatoes and wondering what to do with them (knowing full well that there would be more ripe tomatoes to pick tomorrow)...the idea came to me! Since I had already planned to grill some spice rubbed boneless chicken thighs (sprayed with olive oil and then seasoned with Montreal Steak Seasoning), I decided to make a simple Fresh Tomato Gratin with the tomatoes on the grill to cook right alongside the chicken. Cooking them on the grill would also keep our kitchen nice and cool.

I cut up several cups of assorted tomatoes into chunks...plum, grape, cherry and regular slicing tomatoes. I tossed them into an ovenproof skillet along with a couple of minced cloves of garlic and a generous splash of olive oil, sea salt and pepper. I placed the skillet on the hot grill and cooked them for about 10 minutes until they began softening and the juices began to ooze out of them. I stirred in several generous heaping tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan along with some freshly picked thyme, oregano, basil and Italian parsley and let it cook about 10 minutes more. I topped it with large shavings of Parmesan cheese and let that melt into it for a few minutes. I served the grilled chicken topped with the Fresh Tomato Gratin. This meal was even better than "farm to table"...it was more like "patio to plate"...LOL.  The tomatoes were still warm from the sun when I was cutting them up -- it doesn't get any fresher than that, not to mention all the herbs were freshly picked and placed directly into the gratin without ever setting foot in the house. I ended the meal with a piece of my Zucchini Walnut Bread. It was a simple fresh meal that screamed "summertime". Check out the photos below. Enjoy!

Finely grated Parmesan and fresh herbs have been added
Topped with shaved Parmesan
It's ready to eat now!

There's always room for a little dessert!