Thursday, February 28, 2013

Spicy Chipotle Peanut Crusted Chicken & Roasted Cauliflower

This evening I was in the mood for something a little different for dinner so I made Spicy Chipotle Peanut Crusted Chicken.  I made a coating out of coarsely ground peanuts chipotle chili powder, paprika, onion power and a little cayenne.  I rolled boneless chicken breasts in the nut mixture and baked them at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes since they were so thick.  I also made oven roasted cauliflower.  I cut up a head of fresh cauliflower and tossed the florets in a large bowl with some olive oil, kosher salt, black pepper, roasted cumin and smoked paprika to help give them a slightly smoky flavor.  I spread the cauliflower florets out in a single layer on a baking sheet and baked them at 425 degrees for 10 minutes and then flipped the florets over and baked them an additional 10 minutes until browned.  I topped them with a little shredded Parmigiano Reggiano after pulling them out of the oven.

Our dinner last night's was a "clean out the fridge" meal that had all kinds of random things in it.  I had actually snapped a picture and intended to post it last night but fell asleep on the couch before I did!  I will post a quick picture of last night's meal (since I already took the pics) so you can see what I'm talking about when I say "clean out the fridge".  LOL  I had a pack of chicken cutlets I needed to use that I sliced into thin strips first.  This is what I put into my "mish-mosh"....I sauteed sliced chicken cutlets, sliced andouille sausage links, 1/4 of a diced onion, 2 small sliced yellow squash and 1/2 a package of sliced mushrooms -- then added 1/2 a jar of arrabbiata sauce and 1/4 cup leftover shredded romano cheese and simmered everything for 30 minutes and then stirred in 1/4 cup of cream to help blunt the spiciness a bit.  I served it over grated zucchini that I had left in a bowl from earlier in the week.  It was kind of like a "Jambalaya-Arrabbiata-Alfredo-ish" sort of concoction.  It was strange -- but in a good way?  I did manage to get rid of all the odds and ends in my fridge though!  :-)   I also did another test run last night on my cannolis and hope to post the recipe for those tomorrow.  Below are pictures of tonight's dinner as well as last night's "clean out the fridge" special.  Enjoy!

Spicy Chipotle Peanut Crusted Chicken & Roasted Cauliflower
Last Night's "Clean out the Fridge" Special   :-)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Quick & Easy Shrimp & Squash Arrabbiata

This evening I decided to make a super quick and simple Shrimp & Squash Arrabbiata to use up the steamed shrimp we had leftover from yesterday's shrimp cocktails that we had for lunch. It was unusually quick and easy to make because I used a prepared pasta sauce by Mezzetta -- it was their Napa Valley Bistro Arrabbiata sauce -- spicy, flavorful and delicious (all natural with no added sugar). I sliced up a small yellow summer squash and a small zucchini and sauteed them in a little olive oil until almost tender and then dumped half of the jar of sauce in with them, covered the pan and simmered on low for about 10 minutes and then added the cooked shrimp to the sauce and simmered just a couple minutes until the shrimp were heated through. I didn't want to cook them any further. I served the Shrimp & Squash Arrabbiata on top of some zucchini fettuccine (zucchini that I cut into noodles with my Spirelli, sauteed in olive oil for a few minutes). I topped our bowls with some shredded Parmigiano Reggiano and tossed some torn fresh basil leaves on top...and "Voila"...dinner was served! I snapped a couple photos for you to see below. Enjoy!

If you are looking for a good jarred sauce...this one is great!
These are the kind of ingredients you are looking for in a jarred sauce -- all ingredients that you would use if you made it yourself at home.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Southwestern Marinated Grilled Chicken & "Holy Moly Cannolis"

Today it was an absolutely gorgeous day here...sunny with temps in the mid-60s.  It's a drastic change from the nasty, damp, cold weather we've had most of the last couple weeks here.  I decided it would be a perfect evening to grill something for dinner, so this afternoon I put together a quick marinade with a southwestern theme. We had Southwestern Marinated Grilled Chicken with steamed fresh broccoli florets sprinkled with fresh lemon zest. Youngest son ate dinner with us this evening so I baked some sweet potatoes for both hubby and him to have with their dinners.  It was a quick and easy dinner.

The marinade I put together for the chicken was super simple -- it was 1/4 cup olive oil, the zest and juice of 1 lemon, the zest and juice of 1 lime, 2 large cloves of minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon ground Chipotle pepper.  I love zesting and using the rinds of lemons and limes -- that's where all the flavor really is...and besides, "a rind is a terrible thing to waste"!   ;-)   I placed all of the ingredients in a gallon size Ziploc bag and added the boneless chicken breasts (that I had pounded thin) and marinated them for about 4 hours before hubby grilled them.

For our special "Oscar Night" dessert, I decided to take a stab at making cannolis.  Not too long ago, one of my regular blog readers and I discussed recreating them (to be both wheat and sugar free) because both of us really loved cannolis.  When I was growing up, there was a little place on the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland, that I used to go to every single time I got into town during the summers.  They made some of the absolute best cannolis I have ever eaten.  The biggest challenge in recreating cannolis without wheat or grains is the tube shaped crusts that the ricotta filling gets piped into. So, I decided to forgo the idea (for now) of trying to make a crust that I could form into a tube shape (the crusts are usually wrapped around cannoli molds and deep fried until crispy).  So, I decided to make crust "disks" to pipe the ricotta filling onto instead of into.  These are more like...."cannoli bites".  The end result is the same...the presentation is just a bit different.  The purpose of the crust is to hold the filling and I accomplished that task!  My initial attempt at making the crust was good -- it's not 100% where I want to be yet...but it is an awesome start and both hubby and I enjoyed them and thought they were great. I topped the cannolis with chopped Green & Black's 70% cacao chocolate bar as well as a few salted roasted pistachios.  It is still a work in progress...but I'm getting there.  I am calling these Holy Moly Cannolis -- because when we tried them...the first thought was "holy's cannoli"....LOL.  I snapped a picture of our dinner and my Holy Moly Cannolis.  Enjoy!

And now, I would like to present..."Holy Moly Cannolis"...


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Saturday's Simple Chicken, Spinach & Cheese Melt

This evening, neither hubby or I were very hungry for some reason. I had a package of boneless chicken breasts that I planned to use for dinner...I just didn't have a plan as to what to do with them! I sometimes find it hard to figure out what to make when I'm not hungry or in the mood for anything in particular. So, I pulled the chicken breasts out and put them between saran wrap and pounded them until they were thin and then spun my spice rack around...sort of like playing "Wheel of Fortune"...only in this case it was more like "what spice will strike my fancy tonight"...LOL.  I have most of my spices in alphabetical order -- kind of dorky, I know....but I have accumulated so many spices that all of them can no longer be alphabetized...because they are everywhere!!! Anyway...these are the spices that I finally landed on...roasted cumin, smoked paprika, ground chipotle pepper, onion powder, kosher salt and black pepper. Whew...that's a lot of spices! I lightly sprinkled all the seasonings on one side of my chicken breasts and then sauteed them spice side down in olive oil in a nonstick skillet until they were lightly golden, then sprinkled the 2nd side with the spices before flipping them over. I can't tell you how fragrant the chicken smelled with that spice combination while it was cooking -- it smelled awesome. While the chicken cooked, I quickly sauteed a bag of baby spinach in another skillet and added a splash of cream, salt and pepper. Once the chicken was done...I topped each chicken breast with a mound of cooked spinach and then placed a slice of pepper jack cheese on top and ran it under the broiler to melt for a couple minutes. I sauteed some fresh sliced mushrooms (for me) and "voila"....dinner was ready in about 20 minutes! I served it with a side of bibb lettuce topped with diced avocado and tomatoes. It was so quick and simple...and pretty too. I snapped a couple photos for you to see.  Enjoy!


Saturday Morning's "Breakfast Berry Parfait"

This morning it's dark, overcast and rainy out. As soon as I woke up, I started working on some projects around the house and before I knew it, the time had gotten away from me and I realized I hadn't had breakfast yet. During the work week I eat the same thing for breakfast every day -- a 7-oz container of plain Fage 2% Greek yogurt with some cinnamon and stevia. It is quick, portable and I like it. On the weekends I try to have something a little different or special -- eggs of some sort, muffins or grain free "bagel/squagels", etc.  I also keep a larger 24-oz container of Greek Gods plain full fat Greek yogurt in the fridge and use that if I want a treat in the evenings for dessert. I add unsweetened coconut, chopped nuts, cacao nibs or different spices like cardamom, etc. to make it "special".

With all that said...this morning I decided to have some of my Greek Gods yogurt for breakfast with some fresh blueberries and strawberries. As I was rooting around in my fridge hunting for the yogurt, I glanced over at my little container of heavy whipping cream and got an idea -- sometimes my ideas are a little scary -- but this one turned out to be brilliant (well, in my opinion anyway). What I did was so simple, yet tasted so special -- it turned my sometimes ho-hum yogurt into a real treat. I poured about 2 tablespoons of whipping cream into a small bowl and using my super small whisk, whipped it until it began to thicken and doubled in volume -- I didn't beat it into full whipped cream with stiff peaks -- simply aerated it and doubled its volume (this took 1 to 2 minutes, tops). Then, I added about 3/4 cup of the Greek Gods full fat yogurt to the bowl and mixed it together well and added a generous splash of vanilla extract, about 16 drops of NuNaturals stevia and mixed it all together and topped it with some fresh strawberries, blueberries and chopped walnuts and made myself a "Breakfast Berry Parfait". I know you are probably thinking..."wow, that Gourmet Girl Cooks is losing it"...she is raving over yogurt and berries??? Trust me -- it was AWESOME and I actually felt kind of guilty eating it for breakfast. The lightly whipped cream folded into the yogurt with vanilla and stevia was so much more decadent than even I could imagine - it was creamy, yet fluffy and smooth and sort of felt like I was eating an entire bowl of lightly whipped cream instead of yogurt for breakfast. It was most definitely a "special breakfast treat" for me! I snapped a few photos for you to see below. Enjoy!


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thursday's Simple Salmon Patties

This evening I made a really quick and simple dinner and managed to use up some of the leftovers from the last couple of nights as well.  Over the weekend I had picked up a 6-can package of wild Alaskan salmon (skinless and boneless) from Costco (for only $12.39 for 6 cans).  I decided to try it tonight by making some simple salmon patties.  I made 2 patties by mixing together one drained 6-oz. can of skinless and boneless wild salmon, freshly ground black pepper, celery salt, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, dill, 1 tablespoon mayo, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1 egg, and 1 teaspoon lemon juice -- and then added in about 3 tablespoons of almond flour until it was stiff enough to form into soft patties.  I didn't really measure out the spices, just sort of eyeballed them.  I mixed a couple tablespoons of almond flour and some paprika on a little plate and then lightly dusted both sides of the patties with the flour mixture so it would help to form a light crust and brown nicely.  I sauteed them in a nonstick skillet in a little olive oil until both sides were golden brown (about 5 minutes on each side).  I served the salmon patties with a small piece of the leftover Spinach-Feta Pie and the Chipotle Cheddar Biscuits from last night.  The salmon patties turned out good (not awesome, but good) -- next time I make them I will jazz them up a bit more to give them a little more kick.  Hubby isn't crazy about Old Bay Seasoning, so I didn't add it (but I wanted to)!  By the way...I specifically mentioned that the canned salmon was skinless and boneless -- believe it or not, most canned salmon is NOT skinless and boneless (or wild caught for that matter) and you are supposed to eat it like that (I have one simple word for that...ewwwwwww!).  So, if you happen to like eating skin and bones with your salmon...I apologize, but it gives me the willies.  LOL  I snapped a couple pics below for you to see.  Enjoy!

Wild Alaskan Canned Salmon...Skinless & Boneless

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Chipotle Chicken Burgers, Chipotle Cheddar Biscuits & Chipotle Dusted Roasted Brussels Sprouts

This evening I was in the mood for Southwestern or Tex-Mex food for dinner.  I had a package of ground chicken breast in the fridge that I needed to use -- so I planned my meal around using it.  I decided to make spicy Chipotle Chicken Burgers and wanted to stick with the "Southwest" theme throughout the entire I made Chipotle Cheddar Biscuits as well as Chipotle Dusted Roasted Brussels Sprouts to accompany the burgers.  Basically we had an all out Chipotle Fest!  :-)   It added a different twist to more traditional biscuits and  brussels sprouts and it was absolutely delicious!   I topped and served our burgers with strips of pepper jack cheese, and some salsa and sour cream as well as sliced avocado.  I snapped a couple photos below as well as the simple recipes for both the burgers and biscuits.  The brussels sprouts were very simple -- small fresh brussels sprouts that I halved and tossed with olive oil and sea salt and then dusted with chipotle chili powder before roasting them in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until browned and caramelized.  The pictures and recipes for the biscuits and burgers are below.  Enjoy!


Chipotle Cheddar Biscuits


2 cups blanched almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or Celtic sea salt
1/2 teaspoon Chipotle Chili Powder
2 tablespoons chilled butter, small diced
4 ounces (1 cup) shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold buttermilk (if needed, add more 1 tablespoon at a time, just until moistened)
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place flour, baking powder, soda, salt and Chipotle chili powder in a medium mixing bowl and whisk to mix well.  Add diced chilled butter and 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese.  Using a pastry cutter, quickly cut butter and cheese into dry ingredients until it appears crumbly.  Stir in the remaining shredded cheese and make a well in the center of the mixture and add the apple cider vinegar and buttermilk (starting with 1/2 cup plus additional 2 tablespoons), and stir to mix well (add additional tablespoon of buttermilk, if necessary, just until it pulls together into a dough -- do not make it too wet or biscuits will spread when baked).  Mix quickly until a soft sticky dough forms.  The dough will be light, airy and fluffy.  On a parchment paper lined baking sheet (I used lightly buttered non-stick foil), use a cookie scoop or retractable ice cream scoop to make 5 or 6 equal sized mounds of dough on the baking sheet, spaced evenly apart.  Lightly tamp mounds down on top to approximately 1-inch thick.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until light golden brown.  Let cool about 5 to 10 minutes before serving.  Makes 5 large or 6 regular sized biscuits

***Note:  I used almost 3/4 cup of buttermilk in this recipe which produced tender, delicate, moist biscuits that spread out a bit.  To reduce spreading, start with 1/2 cup buttermilk and add just enough extra, 1 tablespoon at a time, to moisten the dry ingredients and form a light, fluffy dough.

Chipotle Chicken Burgers


1 pound ground chicken breast
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 to 4 tablespoons salsa (I used fresh refrigerated salsa)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon Chipotle Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon Roasted Ground Cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil (for cooking)


Mix all ingredients (except oil for cooking) together in a medium bowl and form into 3 or 4 patties (wet hands with water to keep patties from sticking; patties will be very moist).  Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat in large nonstick skillet.  Carefully add patties to hot skillet and cook about 5 to 6 minutes; flip burgers and continue cooking another 6 minutes, or until golden brown and juices run clear and completely done.  Top with Pepper Jack Cheese, Salsa, Avocado, Sour Cream, etc., as desired.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday's Greek Style Spinach-Feta Pie

This evening I was in the mood for my Greek Style Spinach-Feta Pie.  I had a huge container of organic baby spinach that I needed to do something with as well as a big container of feta I decided it would be a good night to make it.  Youngest son also joined us for dinner tonight because he really loves spinach.  We really enjoyed it and I love making it because it is so easy to make.  I snapped a couple photos for you to see below and the recipe is linked above.  Enjoy!


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pecan Crusted Chicken Fingers

Before we ran our errands this afternoon...I marinated some boneless chicken breasts in buttermilk that I seasoned with spices.  I cut about 1-1/2 lbs. of boneless chicken breasts into "fingers" and placed them in a Ziploc bag to marinate in 1 cup of buttermilk mixed with 1/2 teaspoon hot Hungarian paprika (similar to cayenne), 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder.  After marinating the chicken for about 5 hours, I made the pecan coating mixture.  I mixed 2 cups of ground pecans, 1 teaspoon sweet paprika, some sea salt and black pepper in a shallow bowl and rolled each of the buttermilk coated chicken fingers in the nut mixture and placed them on a lightly oiled baking sheet and baked them at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  They turned out tasty and a bit spicy!  The pecan coating didn't get too crispy in the oven, but it really gave the chicken a good flavor and they stayed very moist from the buttermilk marinade.  I served them with some lightly steamed and stir fried french green beans with fresh garlic and red pepper flakes.  I also made a quick little "avocado salsa" by dicing an avocado and tossing it was a tablespoon of salsa and a tiny dollop of sour cream and served it in the halved out avocado shells.  It was so simple and fresh tasting.  Below is a picture for you to see.  Enjoy!


Happy Sunday -- Spanikopita Inspired Omelettes

Happy Sunday! It is a bright sunny and chilly morning here -- we got down into the 20s last night....brrrrr! It is up to a "toasty" 36 degrees now at 11:00. This morning I decided to make us a hearty brunch to last the day until dinner time. I made "Spanikopita inspired" omelettes along with some oven baked uncured bacon. The omelettes turned out great. I sauteed a minced shallot in some olive oil and then tossed in a few big handfuls of organic baby spinach and wilted it along with the shallots. After the spinach wilted, I added a couple pinches of dried dill, salt, pepper, a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice and then stirred in a few tablespoons of crumbled feta...and "Voila"...I had a healthy Spanikopita-like filling to put in our omelettes. I snapped a pic for you to see below. Enjoy!

P.S. -- Happy Birthday Mom -- I love you!!!


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Saturday's Dinner at Atlanta Fish Market

Today is hubby's birthday so we celebrated with an early dinner at the Atlanta Fish Market.  It has some of the best seafood, hands down, in Atlanta.  It was very cold and windy here today and only 37 degrees outside when we got home.  We stopped at Whole Foods and picked up a few things on our way home. Youngest son joined us for dinner and everyone enjoyed their meals.  I had my usual favorite -- broiled salmon with lemon juice and olive oil along with their thin green beans.  Hubby and youngest son (neither of which are wheat free) enjoyed their meals as well.  Hubby had fried shrimp and scallops and youngest son had mahi mahi teriyaki (which is sort of a tongue twister).  I snapped a few photos of our meals as well as a picture of some really weird chocolate bars I spotted at Whole Foods.  Some of the oddest flavors I have seen -- they actually sounded pretty gross. Enjoy!

Broiled Salmon w/ Thin Green Beans
Mahi  Mahi Teriyaki
Shrimp & Scallop Platter
Chocolate Bars: Smokehouse BBQ Potato Chips, Salted Chowchilla Almond, Beef Jerky, Peanut Butter & Banana

Saturday Morning's Breakfast...Olé

This morning we had a late breakfast.  It's bright, sunny and chilly outside -- in the mid-30s.  I still had half of a leftover avocado that I didn't use in last night's tacos as well as some leftover shredded white cheddar cheese I wanted to use I decided to make fried organic cage free eggs and serve them on top of a piece of Asiago "Bagel Toast" that I keep in the freezer and pull out as I need it and pop it into the toaster.  I sliced the avocado and topped it with a spoon of salsa and topped it all with the shredded white cheddar.  We enjoyed our breakfast with a cup of hazelnut was quick, simple and delicious way to use up some leftovers from last night's dinner.  I snapped a picture for you to see.  Enjoy!


Friday, February 15, 2013

Super Quick & Easy Chicken Tacos

It was a gorgeous bright and sunny day here today and it got up to 61 degrees. The forecast for this weekend, though, is for it to be really cold with highs only in the 40s with possible flurries. I decided since it was so nice out today that we would do our Costco run this evening after work. After we made a couple of other stops, we realized it was almost 8:30 pm and we still hadn't eaten dinner yet. So, we stopped and picked up a rotisserie chicken and planned to have that with a salad for a quick meal. When I remembered I had a big beautiful head of bibb lettuce in the fridge (which has big beautiful soft round leaves), I decided to make some really quick shredded chicken tacos. I laid the lettuce leaves out flat on the counter, hand tore some chunks of chicken breast and placed them on the lettuce, shredded some white cheddar cheese on top and spooned on some fresh salsa and sour cream and then topped with some fresh diced avocado...folded them in half...and BOOM..."Super Quick & Easy Chicken Tacos". We were eating dinner 15 minutes after we got home. Talk about fast food! They were awesome. I snapped a few photos for you to see. Enjoy!



Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pizza -- Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Happy Valentine's Day!!!  We are having heart shaped pepperoni and sun dried tomato pizzas and Green & Black's chocolate nut clusters for dessert.  I made almond clusters using their 85% cacao chocolate bar and added some cacao nibs for this evening's treat!   :-)   Enjoy!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Green & Black's Pistachio Coconut Clusters

For dinner this evening, we had the pot roast leftover from last night.  That gave me time to make some easy peasy "Green & Black's Pistachio Coconut Clusters" for Valentines Day tomorrow.  I've made similar chocolate nut clusters in the past using roasted almonds, dried cherries and coconut with 70% cacao chocolate.  Tonight I wanted to try using roasted pistachios, coconut and 85% chocolate instead.  I broke up a bar of Green & Black's 85% organic chocolate and melted it in a bowl in the microwave (in 30 second increments so it wouldn't burn or scorch) -- it only took about 1-1/2 minutes to melt until smooth.  I sweetened it a little more by adding some drops of NuNaturals liquid stevia to the melted chocolate.  I stirred in a few small scoops of dry roasted, lightly salted pistachios and a few pinches of unsweetened coconut until I had the consistency I wanted.  I then dropped it by tablespoonfuls onto some parchment paper and popped it into the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to set.  They turned out delicious...with the deep, dark, rich flavor of the Green & Black's 85% chocolate, the slight saltiness and crunch from the pistachios and the hint of coconut flavor and chewiness.  They were so simple, quick and easy and took only 5 minutes to make.  I snapped a few photos below for you to see.  Enjoy!


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tuesday's Pot Roast..."What a Crock"

This morning I remembered to put the pot roast into my crock pot before going to work.  I can't say enough about how nice it was to have dinner cooked for me already when I got home this evening. Oh...and tonight's pot roast turned out MUCH MUCH better than last week's.  I used the cut of meat that I usually use for pot roast.  I used a Boneless Shoulder Pot Roast.  It is perfect if you want your meat "fall apart tender"...but not falling apart.  That way it satisfies everyone and makes nice slices but is fork tender too.  I just threw it together.  In my "pre-wheat-free" days, I use to dump a can of cream of mushroom soup over the top of it before cooking and add sliced onions for flavor.

For today's pot roast, I sliced an onion and put it in the bottom of the crock pot, then placed the roast on top and cut up 3 carrots and placed them around the roast.  I had a bowl of fresh brussel sprouts in the fridge so I tossed them in along with a cup of fresh sliced mushrooms that were left from the weekend.  Basically, I cleaned out the odds and ends in my fridge.  I added a splash of wine and then seasoned the top of the roast with kosher salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, thyme and a little celery salt.  It literally took me only 9 minutes from start to "putting the lid on" and cooking all day long.

Before serving dinner, I removed the roast, sliced it and then added a little salt to the juice in the crock pot and topped the pot roast, carrots and brussel sprouts with the "au jus" alongside the Parmesan Cauliflower Mash left from last night's dinner.  It was great to come home to a home-cooked meal that was waiting for me!  I really need to use my crock pot more frequently.  I snapped a couple photos below.  Enjoy!

Right before closing the lid to cook all day doesn't get much easier!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Parmesan Crusted Chicken, Parmesan Cauliflower Mash & Creamed Spinach

Well, nothing like a rainy Monday to start off the week!  After all the rain we had last week, I was so excited when Saturday turned out to be such a beautiful, bright, sunny and warm day.  I got adventurous and after our Costco run, grocery shopping and some other errands...I decided to wash my car (yes, with my own 2 little hands) -- and it looked really good...for about 2 seconds.  We also gave our little Bichon a much needed bath as well...and as luck would have has rained non-stop ever since!!!  LOL  Sometimes you take 2 steps forward and 5 steps back.  So...after all that work, both the car and dog were clean for 2 seconds this weekend!!!  Last night we had the family over for dinner and I decided to take the day off from posting (imagine that)!

For dinner this evening, I made my Parmesan Crusted Chicken.  It's so simple to make and delicious too.  I also made my Parmesan Cauliflower Mash to go with it as well as some creamed spinach.  It was a simple and much needed comfort meal tonight.  I am planning to put a roast in the crock pot in the morning (unless I forget to) so I can come home to a "home-cooked meal" tomorrow. According to our weather forecast for the week, we have at least a couple more days of rain to look forward to. It took me months to get around to finally washing my car and then I didn't even get to drive it once before it rained...errrrrr!  The recipes for the Parmesan Crusted Chicken and Parmesan Cauliflower Mash are linked above.  I snapped a photo for you to see below.  Enjoy!


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Happy Saturday!

It's an absolutely gorgeous Saturday morning here.  So bright and sunny after a week filled with lots of rain.  Even though it's a little nippy out this morning, it is supposed to reach 60 degrees this afternoon.  If it actually gets that warm, I might just venture out and wash my car!  This morning I made myself a big omelet for breakfast since I don't plan to eat again until dinner time.  It was so simple and easy to put together since I cooked extra sausage, peppers and mushrooms last night when I made pizza so I could use them in an omelet this weekend.  I quartered a few grape tomatoes to add to my omelet and shredded some sharp cheddar cheese, and "Voila" -- I had an omelet fit for a Queen!  I'm ready to make my Costco and grocery runs this morning and get back to wash my car this afternoon!   If I'm lucky, I might find some wild caught fish for dinner...or something else that strikes my fancy.  Happy Saturday....Enjoy!


Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday Night Pizza...

I am so glad Friday is finally here!  This evening we had pizza for dinner.  It was quick and easy to make.  I browned some Italian chicken sausage and sauteed some diced red bell pepper and fresh mushrooms while the crust was baking.  It turned out really good.  I love having pizza on Friday nights for some reason -- it always seems to taste better on Friday nights!  Maybe it's because when my kids were young, we always looked forward to our weekly Friday pizza nights.  We used to take them to a place called "Shakey's Pizza" and the kids would stand on a big wooden bench and watch the pizza bakers make our pizza and toss the dough in the air over and over again from behind a big glass window.  That was back when families actually enjoyed each others' company while they sat around and shared a simple pizza together.  It makes me sad to watch many families eat out "together" now.   Everyone is looking down at their phones -- Mom, Dad...and the kids with few words being spoken as they sit "together" so "far apart" -- each of them electronically engaged and communicating with someone not sitting with them at the table.  To me...there is something so sacred about "the family meal"'s so much more than just sharing a meal -- it's where families get to share their day, their thoughts, or silly jokes...and more importantly where you share yourself with those that you love most.  Friday night pizza will always be special to me.  Enjoy!

Link to the recipe:   Almond-Flax-Parmesan-Herb Pizza Crust

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Cardamom Streusel Coffee Cake

This evening we had leftovers for dinner -- we have a ton left from both the roast I made in the crock pot Monday night as well as the stuffed peppers and mushrooms I made last night.  Rather than completely take the night off from cooking -- I decided to do a little baking instead!  I have wanted to make a coffee cake for a while I decided that tonight would be the night!  I wanted it to be "not too sweet"... I wanted a "crumbly streusel-type topping"...I wanted it to "include nuts and chocolate"....and I wanted it to be "fragrant" too!  Usually cinnamon takes care of the fragrance part of most coffee cakes...but I wanted something even more fragrant this time.  I decided that cardamom would be the perfect "fragrance" as well as flavor for my coffee I made Cardamom Streusel Coffee Cake!   I added some fresh orange zest and extract to the cake and topped the streusel topping with chopped Green & Black's 85% chocolate bar.  So...what's not to love here???  I didn't start baking until 8:00 I am making a late post this evening because I wanted to taste a piece with a cup of coffee so I could "review" it for you.  One word....awesomely awesome (I lied...that's two words).  It is moist, tender, light, fragrant, flavorful and just really hits the spot with a cup of coffee.  It isn't overly sweet and the smell of orange, chocolate and cardamom is heavenly.  It provides a good dose of aromatherapy too while you eat it -- so, it even makes you FEEL awesome too!   :-)    Alright...enough of the awesome stuff -- it really is good.  I snapped a couple photos below as well as the recipe.  Enjoy!

Cardamom Streusel Coffee Cake


⅔ cup Swerve sweetener (or sweetener equal to ⅔ cup sugar)
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1-¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1-½ teaspoon grated orange zest
2 large eggs, beaten
6 tablespoons butter, melted
½ cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
½ cup water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure orange extract

Streusel Topping:
½ cup blanched almond flour
⅓ cup Swerve sweetener (or granular sweetener equal to ⅓ cup sugar)
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick), diced
½ cup chopped walnuts
2 ounces 85% cacao chocolate bar, chopped (approximately 1/2 of a 3.5 oz. bar)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Lightly grease or spray a 9-inch square baking pan with butter or oil.  In a small bowl or cup, mix ½ cup water with 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder until dissolved and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine almond flour, Swerve (or other sweetener), baking powder, baking soda, salt, 1-¼ teaspoon cardamom, 1-½ teaspoon orange zest; and whisk to break up any lumps. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, melted butter, buttermilk, ½ cup of water that was mixed with 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder, vanilla extract and orange extract.  Pour into the large bowl with flour mixture and stir with whisk, just until combined.  Pour batter into the prepared baking pan.

Streusel Topping: In a small to medium sized bowl, add almond flour, Swerve (or other sweetener), 1 teaspoon orange zest, cocoa powder, ½ teaspoon cardamom, and mix until blended.  Cut 4 tablespoons butter into the dry mixture using a pastry cutter or dough blender, until crumbly.  Stir in walnuts (the mixture will be crumbly).  Spread the crumbly topping mixture over cake batter in pan.  Sprinkle chopped chocolate bar over the top of crumbly mixture.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Let cool approximately 20 minutes before cutting.