Friday, May 31, 2013

Brussels Sprout-Bacon Pizza & Pecan Tassies for Dessert (sneak peek)!

Today was a beautiful day here -- it got up to about 85 degrees.  This evening I was in the mood for something different for dinner and I was in the mood to cook.  Last night I didn't cook, because we had leftovers from earlier in the week for dinner, but I made up for it tonight, though!  I was in the mood for pizza, but not traditional sauce, cheese and "normal" toppings.  I hunted around in the fridge and found 1/2 of a bag of brussels sprouts (about 1 pound), a package of uncured bacon and a Vidalia onion (my favorite kind of onion...they are from Vidalia, Georgia). The wheels in my head began to turn...and I decided to go "off the grid" a bit.  I diced about 3 slices of bacon and browned them in a skillet, then poured off all but about a tablespoon or so of fat.  I tossed in about 1/2 of a sliced medium Vidalia onion and the brussels sprouts that I thinly sliced.  I browned and caramelized the onion and sprouts, seasoned them with some Celtic sea salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper...and then poured in about 1 tablespoon or so of apple cider vinegar for a little "twang".  I cooked the vinegar off for a minute and removed it from the heat.

I prepared my Almond/Flax/Parmesan/Herb Pizza Crust and flattened it between parchment paper to make it nice and thin...and baked it until golden and crisp and then layered a little provolone and gruyere cheese on it and popped it back in the oven to melt for a minute...then piled on half of the cooked sprouts, bacon and onions...then a little diced fresh mozzarella cheese...the remaining half of the sprout mixture and topped it with a tiny bit of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. I layered the cheese in different stages to serve as a little glue to hold my sprouts together as it melted. I popped it back into the oven and cooked another 5 minutes; then ran it under the broiler for about 3 minutes to lightly brown. It was really, really good....and different, which is what I was in the mood for this evening!  The link to my pizza crust recipe is embedded above (in the different colored text). But...the exciting news is the dessert that I made when I got home from work. I made Pecan of our favorites, but converted the recipe to make it wheat/grain/sugar free! If you have never had them before, they are easy peasy little mini pecan pies (tarts). These turned out awesome! I am going to post their recipe and photos either later this evening after I write it up....or first thing in the morning....but I'll post one picture of them below, along with my pizza pics....stay tuned for the Pecan Tassie recipe in my next post (sneak peek below)! Enjoy!


Pecan Tassies...recipe to come in the next post!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Chicken Kebabs Marinated in Greek Yogurt w/ Aleppo Pepper

This evening I wanted to have kebabs for dinner since it was such a pretty day and hubby was off today and could grill them earlier than normal.  Usually, on weeknights, I have to do the grilling because he gets home a couple of hours after I do.  I forgot to marinate the chicken before I went to bed last night, so I prepared the marinade and cut up the chicken when I came home at lunch time so it could marinate all afternoon.  It turned out great!  The recipe is one that I found in the July 2009 Bon Appetit Magazine which I used to subscribe to. When I made this recipe last spring, I didn't have the Aleppo pepper, so I had to use the substitute for it (paprika and cayenne). When I was shopping at Penzeys Spice store a couple weeks ago, I picked up some Aleppo pepper (from Turkey) so I could make it with the original spice the recipe called for.  The link to the post with the recipe is here: Chicken Kebabs Marinated in Greek Yogurt w/ Aleppo Pepper.  I made this last April, a few months before going wheat/grain free and the only substitute I made, other than the Aleppo pepper, was I served cauliflower rice tonight instead of the brown rice pilaf I used last year.  I served the kebabs with some grilled red peppers brushed with olive oil, salt and pepper, cauliflower rice, and roasted brussels sprouts that I tossed with olive oil, Pomegranate infused red wine vinegar, sea salt and black pepper.  It was delicious -- the Greek yogurt marinade clings to the chicken while it cooks and keeps it so moist.  I snapped a few photos below.  Enjoy!

I really liked this pepper!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Greek Style Spinach-Feta Pie...Tuesday Night's Special

Today was another gorgeous day here -- we had a high of 84 and it was bright, sunny and breezy. Both hubby and I were off today, too, so we did yard work and other odds and ends projects. I took a walk during the afternoon to get that done so our evening would be free, except for dinner, some relaxation time and to watch the first episode of Extreme Weight Loss. For lunch this afternoon, I enjoyed a piece of chilled leftover salmon that I made a couple nights ago, along with a salad. So, I decided that tonight would be a great night to have my Greek Style Spinach-Feta Pie for dinner. I used a full pound of organic baby spinach and made it with the thinner crust version. The link to the recipe is embedded above (it's a different color). I snapped a few photos for you to see below. Enjoy!



Monday, May 27, 2013

Grilled Chicken w/ Veggie Kabobs and Cauliflower Rice with Chocolate Chip Cookies for Dessert

Happy Memorial Day! Today was another gorgeous day here -- it got a little bit warmer this afternoon but was still absolutely beautiful. We started the morning with our walk while it was still cool outside and then ran numerous errands this morning and early afternoon. I decided to keep dinner simple today so we grilled marinated chicken breasts and numerous veggie kabobs (skewered veggies). I marinated boneless chicken breasts for a few hours in olive oil, pomegranate infused red wine vinegar, sea salt, black pepper, dried rosemary, oregano and 2 large minced cloves of garlic. Our sides were a medley of skewered veggie kabobs; red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, Vidalia onion, zucchini, mushrooms and tomatoes that I lightly brushed with a mixture of olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder before grilling.  

While I made brown rice for the others, I made buttered "cauliflower rice" for myself which is so simple to make (Cauliflower Rice Recipe: Using the large side of a box type grater or a food processor, grate a small raw head of cauliflower and place in a microwave safe covered dish and microwave on high for 4 to 5 minutes or until al dente. If desired, you can season with butter, salt and pepper.The cauliflower rice can also be sauteed for a few minutes in a tablespoon of olive oil on the stove top if preferred.). 

For dessert, I baked my Chocolate Chip Cookies with Toasted Walnuts & Ricotta...but this time I added a little twist to them. I added about 1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut and increased the ricotta by about 1 rounded/heaped tablespoon to make sure the coconut didn't dry them out.  They turned out fantastic!  Also, this time I prepared them without using a mixer by whisking all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and then making a well in the center of the bowl where I added all the wet/moist ingredients, stirred them together in the center and then mixed the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until thoroughly combined and then stirred the chocolate chips, walnuts and coconut into the dough. Interestingly, I did not find any difference in the texture versus using the hand, this is a simpler way to make them...not to mention, one less gadget to wash! Here's the link for the cookie recipe: Chocolate Chip Cookies with Toasted Walnuts & Ricotta.  I snapped a few photos of dinner and dessert below. Enjoy! 

Before grilling...
After grilling...


Cauliflower Rice


Small head of fresh raw cauliflower


Using the large side of a box type grater or a food processor, grate cauliflower and place in a microwave safe covered dish and microwave on high for 4 to 5 minutes or until al dente. 

If desired, you can season with butter, salt and pepper.The cauliflower rice can also be sauteed for a few minutes in a tablespoon of olive oil on the stove top if preferred.).


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Lemon-Walnut-Blueberry Yogurt -- Happy Sunday!

Happy Sunday!  It's another gorgeous day here today -- I'm so thankful for this beautiful weekend weather, especially after all the rainy days we've had recently.  Hubby and I got up early and took another long walk this morning -- it was only 59 degrees when we started, but the sun was so bright and strong that it felt warmer than it was. We have a wedding to go to later today, so we will get our errands run soon.  When we got back from our walk, I made myself a simple breakfast of plain full fat Greek yogurt (by Greek Gods) mixed with some fresh blueberries, walnuts and a little fresh lemon zest, sweetened with a little bit of stevia.  I enjoyed my yogurt along with a cup of Island Coconut coffee out on the back patio so I could enjoy the beautiful weather and all the flowers that are blooming like crazy now.  We've even had a few daylilies pop open in the last couple of days...and my hydrangeas are beginning to bloom and packed with buds ready to open.  I hope to plant a few tomato plants and some basil this weekend.  I'm also looking forward to making a nice salad as a late lunch later this afternoon with a nice piece of the chilled salmon from last night's dinner on top.  I snapped a few photos for you to see below. Enjoy!

Simple, fresh & delicious!

My little protector...

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Cedar Plank Grilled Wild Sockeye Salmon with Zucchini Fries

Today was an absolutely gorgeous day -- definitely a top 10 day!  It started off great because I was able to sleep in and actually got in a little over 8 hours of sleep, which I rarely get.  t was in the mid-50s when we woke up and bright, sunny with a slight breeze. We decided to take advantage of the gorgeous cool weather and get our walk done before breakfast. We walked all over our little town and it was so pretty and because it's a holiday weekend, it was pretty quiet out as well. When we finished walking we were so rejuvenated that we started pruning shrubs out front and forgot about eating breakfast! We came in and had "brunch" since it was so late and then ran our errands in the early afternoon. We did our usual Costco run and they finally had wild salmon in again!  I was SO excited!!! We picked up some fresh produce and a few other odds and ends and then stopped at the grocery store  and ran a few other errands. I originally planned to roast brussels sprouts to go with our salmon dinner tonight, but instead decided to make Zucchini Fries. We picked up some cedar planks to cook our huge salmon fillet on. I have always wanted to try cooking salmon on one, so today we decided to try it out.  It turned out delicious, moist and tender. To make the salmon, I simply zested a lemon and squeezed the juice from it and then mixed it with about 2 tablespoons of melted Kerrygold Garlic & Herb Butter to make a "lemony-garlic-herb" butter. After we prepared the cedar plank and heated it, I sliced another lemon and placed the salmon fillet on top, then brushed it with the lemon herb butter and placed the lemon slices, alternating with fresh dill sprigs on top and covered and cooked it for about 20-25 minutes.

Before we grilled the salmon, I prepared Zucchini Fries (recipe below). I just added things together to make a seasoned "breading" for them.  In a shallow bowl, I mixed 1/4 cup golden ground flax, 1/4 cup blanched almond flour and 1/2 cup of finely shredded Parmesan. To that mixture I added 1/2 teaspoon each of: onion powder, garlic powder, paprika and then 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning and a few generous dashes of cayenne for some zip and mixed it together well. In a medium bowl, I made an egg wash by beating 2 eggs with 2 tablespoons olive oil and seasoned it with salt and pepper. I cut 2 medium-large zucchini into 2" long sticks. I added the zucchini sticks, about 1/3 at a time, to the egg wash, tossing to coat well. I lined a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and then used my right hand for handling the "wet mixture" and reserved my left hand for rolling them in the "dry seasoned mixture". I lined them on the baking sheet and baked them at 425 F for about 20-25 minutes until crisp. They turned out really good! I snapped a few photos below for you to see. Enjoy!

This is why I love Costco!  
Such a beautiful piece of salmon...
Zucchini fries ready to be popped into the oven...
Here's a closer look before going into the oven...
Salmon grilling away...

Oven Baked Zucchini Fries


1/4 cup ground golden flax
1/4 cup blanched almond flour
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Few dashes ground cayenne pepper, optional
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium to large sized zucchini


In a shallow bowl, mix together flax, almond flour and Parmesan. Add onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and cayenne. 

In a separate bowl, beat eggs with olive oil; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cut zucchini into 2" long sticks. Add zucchini sticks, about 1/3 at a time, to the egg wash; toss to coat well. Place on large parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake at 425 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.

*Note: Use right hand to handle "wet mixture" and left hand for rolling them in the "dry seasoned mixture". 


Friday, May 24, 2013

Taco Seasoned Chicken Cutlets Stuffed w/ Queso Blanco

It was an absolutely gorgeous day here today -- beautiful blue skies, low 70s, breezy and sunny -- a great way to kick off the long Memorial Day Weekend. This evening I had chicken cutlets that I needed to do something with.  I wanted something relatively simple to make.  I made a quick "seasoned breading mixture" by mixing together 1/4 cup ground golden flax, 1/3 cup almond flour and homemade Taco Seasoning (I only used half of the taco seasoning mixture).  I beat an egg in a small bowl and added a little splash of water, a little salt and pepper and made a simple egg wash.  I had a block of Queso Blanco cheese (a mild firm white Mexican style cheese, frequently used in stuffed Poblanos, etc.).  I sliced the cheese and cut it into 4 rectangular sticks about the size of a piece of "string cheese" (you could use string cheese instead if you prefer).  I rolled each piece of cheese up into a cutlet, dipped it in egg wash until coated and then rolled it into the seasoned breading and placed it in a small casserole dish that was lightly sprayed with olive oil (I made 4 stuffed cutlets, but had enough breading left to do a couple more if I had wanted).  I lightly misted/sprayed the top of the cutlets with olive oil to help with browning and baked them at 375 degrees F for about 30 minutes, until done, and let cool slightly.  I served them on a large romaine lettuce leaf with some cherry tomatoes, sliced avocado and a spoonful of fresh salsa.  I sprinkled the top of the cutlets with a little bit of ground chipotle chile powder for a little extra kick.  They were simple and delicious.  I snapped a couple photos below for you to see.  Enjoy!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Simple Roast Chicken Rustica...My Style

This evening I had planned to roast some chicken thighs and baby eggplants for dinner, but unfortunately, my eggplants were no longer fresh and I had to pitch them. So...a quick re-grouping was in order!  I decided to make a simple rustic style roasted chicken dish that I just threw together. I had 5 boneless and skinless chicken thighs (about 1-1/2 pounds total), 5 small zucchini, 3 large cloves of minced garlic, half of a sliced medium onion, a couple large handfuls of grape tomatoes, white wine (chardonnay), sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, red pepper flakes and herbes de Provence. I seasoned the chicken thighs with sea salt and black pepper and then lightly browned them in some olive oil over medium-high heat until golden and then transferred them to a plate.  In the same pot, I tossed in the sliced onions along with the zucchini (sliced into 1/2" thick slices) and cooked them while stirring frequently until lightly cooked. I then added in the minced garlic and cooked for another minute, sprinkled in a generous pinch of red pepper flakes and then added about 1/2 cup of white wine to deglaze and loosen the browned bits accumulating on the bottom of the pan.  I dumped the entire veggie and wine mixture into a large rectangular casserole dish and spread the veggies out into an even layer and sprinkled with a pinch of herbes de Provence.  I placed the chicken thighs on top of the zucchini mixture and surrounded the thighs with beautiful plump grape tomatoes and another generous pince of herbes de Provence and sea salt.  I popped it into a 400 degree F oven for 35 minutes and roasted until the chicken was browned and the tomatoes were roasted and had begun popping open.  After removing from the oven, I sprinkled it with some shredded Parmigiano Reggiano and chopped fresh Italian parsley.  It was rustic, fresh and simple and full of fresh flavors.  I snapped a few photos for you to see below.  The best part of this recipe is there is no exact measuring required...a little of this and a little of that -- it's my favorite kind of recipe to make!  Enjoy!

Before being popped into the oven to roast...
Before roasting...
After roasting...
Rustic, simple and fresh!


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesday's Super Simple & Cool Chicken Salad...

Today it got warm here -- in the mid-80s and since there is rain in the forecast, it's a bit humid as well. Last night I took the night off from cooking because I wasn't very hungry. I had eaten a larger than normal lunch of leftover Chicken Paprikash (which I finally finished up for today's lunch). Hubby stopped on his way home and picked up a rotisserie chicken for last night's dinner and I had a little of that with some yogurt...LOL. Since it wasn't very photographic (white chicken with white yogurt on a white plate)...I decided to spare you last night's wacky meal. Since it was so warm today and the clouds are moving in quickly, I decided to make a quick chicken salad so hubby and I can get our walk in, now that it's cooled off a bit with the sun setting.  I diced chicken breast and finely sliced a green onion and stalk of celery and tossed it all with a mixture of olive oil based mayonnaise and sour cream  I spooned it over a large romaine lettuce leaf, topped it with with some diced cherry tomatoes, a few roasted almonds and served it with half of a sliced avocado.  It was fresh, simple...and most importantly COOL so it didn't heat up the kitchen or us before taking our walk in a few minutes.  I snapped a couple photos for you to see below. Enjoy!


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunday's Pan Sauteed Fillet of Sole w/ Garlic Herb Butter

It rained most of the day here today and we had brutal thunderstorms overnight.  Parts of our metro area got 7 inches of rain today and we are currently under flood watches. This evening I made a quick and simple meal for dinner.  Youngest son came for dinner and his two favorite things to eat are chicken and I decided to make fish for dinner since we had chicken last night.  I picked up some beautiful wild caught fillet of sole for dinner.  I very lightly dusted both sides with blanched almond flour and a little sea salt and sauteed it in Kerrygold's Garlic & Herb Butter.  If you haven't tried it before, it is a very heavily herbed stick of their butter and is perfect for sauteing a delicate fish like sole in.  I heated a large nonstick skillet on medium high heat and added a couple tablespoons of the garlic herb butter and sauteed the super thin sole fillets for about 1 to 2 minutes per side and then squeezed on a little fresh lemon juice.  In a separate medium skillet, I melted another tablespoon of the garlic herb butter and sauteed fresh sliced mushrooms and served the sole topped with the seasoned mushrooms.  I steamed some fresh broccoli to go with our meal as well as heated up leftover Golden Cheddar Biscuits I made Thursday evening.  It was a quick, simple and delicious meal.  I snapped a couple photos for you to see below. Enjoy!


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Saturday Night's Hungarian Style Chicken Paprikash

Today turned out to be a beautiful day here. Hubby and I took our walk late in the afternoon because it began to get a bit cloudy and we were afraid it might rain if we waited until after dinner. On our walk back home, we stopped at the local grocery store near our house and picked up some chicken and yellow squash so I could make Hungarian Style Chicken Paprikash for dinner over buttered julienne yellow squash noodles. It turned out delicious. It was the first meal we had since our late breakfast this morning. As I stepped out back to snap a few pictures in natural began to drizzle, ever so lightly. I think we have rain in our forecast for all day tomorrow -- looks like I will have no excuse to get out of cleaning and organizing the house now! I snapped a few photos below for you to see. The link to the recipe is here:  Saturday Night's Hungarian Style Chicken Paprikash. Enjoy!


This is my favorite paprika to use for Chicken Paprikash!