Thursday, October 31, 2013

Breakfast for Dinner -- Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! This evening I made a quick dinner since it's Halloween and I wanted to get done early before the kids began to trick or treat. I love seeing the little ones in their costumes, so I decided to make a quick "breakfast for dinner". I had a big bag of "ancient sweets red peppers" which are long narrow brilliant sweet red peppers. I sliced one of those large peppers and sauteed it in a bit of olive oil and then made omelets and filled them with the sauteed sweet peppers and grated mini Babybel cheese. It was so simple and so delicious. I lightly browned the already cooked "Three Cheese Mini Chicken Sausage" links by Old World Kitchens I found at Costco last weekend. The sausages have provolone, mozzarella and fontina cheese in them along with oregano, fennel and garlic. I also used these sausages in my Spicy Pumpkin Sausage Soup I made yesterday. I served our red pepper and Babybel cheese filled omelets with the chicken sausages, a toasted Easy Cheddar Black Pepper Biscuit and a couple of Cranberry Orange Walnut Mini-Muffins that I made earlier in the week. I love having breakfast for dinner and tonight was the perfect night to do so. Check out my last meal for October below...low-carb, wheat-free never tasted so good. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Spicy Pumpkin Sausage Soup -- Low Carb & Wheat-free

This evening I was in the mood to have soup for dinner. I wanted to have something "seasonally appropriate"...LOL -- which translates into a sort of "politically correct" for cooks. I decided to make Spicy Pumpkin Sausage Soup. This past weekend I picked up a package of little "three cheese chicken sausage links" from Costco. They are fully cooked; I just browned them a bit in a skillet and sliced them for the soup. They are small links, about the same size and style of "little smokies" if you've ever had those before. I wanted to keep it simple and didn't want to make a real time consuming soup. It turned out delicious and better than I expected. I will definitely make this soup again. 

I have to be honest with you...when hubby called on his way home from work and I told him what I was fixing for dinner, after a really long pause, he said "oh my, that makes my mouth water...and not in a good way"....LOL. I was already well into my preparation of my my response was "it's too late to turn back now" as I chuckled. I will admit, his response did make me wonder if this was such a good idea, but fortunately I plugged along...and am happy to report that he liked it...he REALLY liked it!!! Now, maybe next time I make it, his mouth will water for the right reasons!  :-)  It was a quick and simple soup to make; it was smooth, spicy, creamy and luscious. We enjoyed our soup with a tablespoon of heavy cream drizzled on top as well as a toasted Easy Cheddar Black Pepper Biscuit on the side. If you prefer it less spicy, reduce the chipotle chile and just add a little bit at a time. You can easily substitute your favorite sausage in place of the chicken sausage I used or omit it entirely if you want a vegan version. If you are avoiding dairy, simply substitute coconut milk in place of the cream. This was the perfect soup for the eve before Halloween. I snapped a few photos below as well as the easy recipe. Enjoy!

These are the little chicken sausage links I sliced and put into the soup
Swirled little cloud of cream on top...

Spicy Pumpkin Sausage Soup
Serves 3 to 4


1 15-ounce can 100% pure pumpkin
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
Few grinds black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper, or to taste
1 teaspoon Swerve Sweetener, optional
1/4 cup cream
1 tablespoon butter
1-1/2 cups sliced cooked sausage links, (about 16-20 small links)


In a 3 quart saucepan over medium heat, combine pumpkin and chicken stock, stir until well blended. Heat mixture until it begins to simmer, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste. Add onion powder, chipotle chile pepper, and sweetener. Stir in cream and butter; heat through, just until soup begins to simmer; do not boil. Divide and place sliced sausage links evenly among bowls; ladle soup over the sausage. Garnish with a tablespoon of cream drizzled on top, if desired.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cranberry Orange Walnut Mini-Muffins

Today was a bright, sunny warm day here -- we made it to 73 degrees. Yesterday, it suddenly struck me that this Friday will be the first day of November, and we all know what that means...we will blink and it will be Thanksgiving and one more blink and Christmas will be on top of us! This will be my 2nd wheat-free holiday season. I can remember how daunting it was for me last year. I was used to knowing exactly what I was going to make as well as exactly how it was going to turn out. But last year, everything was up in the air and I wasn't sure if it was even really possible to enjoy holiday meals without all my traditional favorites. But, to my surprise, I actually enjoyed it very much last year. Well, now that I am a "well seasoned" wheat-free cook, I am no longer intimidated by it whatsoever -- I look forward to it and welcome the challenge. Last year I just "hoped it would turn out okay"...this year I say "BRING IT ON"!!! LOL I am down right excited about it this year!  :-)

While doing my Costco shopping this past weekend, I noticed they had gotten in their fresh I bought a big 2-pound bag of them. I decided to go ahead and break them in by making a recipe with them. Cranberries are one of my holiday favorites and one of my favorite things I used to like to make with them was cranberry orange bread with nuts -- it was "bread" only because it was baked in a loaf pan and looked like bread...because the truth is it was sweet enough that it really counted more as a "cake" instead. I wanted to make something less sweet and more suitable to have for breakfast or a nice little snack to have with a cup of coffee. I wasn't looking for dessert. I decided to make mini muffins that had the same cranberry, orange and walnut flavor I loved, but with more of a bran-muffin type texture. I knew if I used all almond flour that they would be more instead, I used a combination of golden flax, almond flour and a touch of coconut flour to soak up any extra liquid that might come from using fresh cranberries. They turned out great -- not overly sweet, but just sweet enough (for me). If you like them sweeter, by all means increase the sweetener...just taste your batter for sweetness before baking them and adjust it accordingly. I snapped a few photos below as well as the recipe. Enjoy!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Chicken Quesadilla Casserole -- Low Carb & Wheat Free

Last night both of my sons came for dinner, so I decided to make Chicken Quesadilla Casserole and surprise them (again) with my wheat free wizardry. I knew what I wanted to put in it and had a vision of how I wanted it to turn out. I debated making one larger casserole or 4 individual smaller versions. I opted to go with the smaller individual casseroles since I just recently purchased some new "fireside bowls" that are made for either soup or casseroles (they are oven save up to 400 degrees). I was looking for something to break them in with and decided to try them out last night. I made my wheat free, grain free tortillas that I made a couple of weeks ago and used those to layer my casseroles. So, what normally would have been a "No-No" for me to eat, suddenly became a low carb, wheat free meal that I could add to my rapidly growing recipe collection! It turned out awesome! I cut my tortillas into pieces to fit them into my individual casserole bowls and layered away. Everyone enjoyed them, and I swear you could not tell the difference between the grain free tortillas in this dish and regular wheat or corn based tortillas. If you prefer to make one larger casserole instead of 4 individual smaller casseroles, use a 3-quart Pyrex-type baking dish and layer in the the same order (or go wild and create your own). I snapped a couple of photos below as well as my super simple recipe. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Greek Style Spinach-Feta Pie -- Low-Carb, Wheat-Free & Healthy

This evening I made my Greek Style Spinach-Feta Pie for dinner. It is one of my favorites. It can be made with either fresh spinach that has been wilted and squeezed dry or, if you prefer, thawed frozen spinach that has been squeezed dry. It uses anywhere from 10 ounces up to 16 ounces of spinach (depending on your personal preference). I usually use the full 16 ounces because I really love spinach, but I have made it both ways and either way is good. I love the fact that I can still enjoy a wheat-free. low-carb crust that is delicious and healthy. Even though it is meatless, it is still protein rich because of the eggs, almond flour and feta cheese -- it keeps me satisfied for hours. It makes a great breakfast, lunch or dinner. It reminds me of the spanakopita I used to love to eat. With this recipe, I am still able to enjoy all the same fresh flavors of the traditional version without the harmful affects from wheat and gluten found in wheat-based filo pastry. I snapped a couple of photos for you to see below as well as the recipe. Enjoy!

Easy Baked Eggs - Low Carb & Wheat free

This morning we awoke to a very chilly morning here. It was so cold that when I woke up around 8:00 that I actually went back to sleep (because I could) and slept until 10:30! I feel super energized this morning. I thought about making an omelet for breakfast, but hubby wasn't in the mood for I decided to make myself a mini version in the oven instead since I also wanted to make biscuits and my oven would already be on. I made my Easy Cheddar Black Pepper Biscuits first, and instead of using the usual 1/2 cup of cream in my biscuits this morning, I used 1/2 cup of rich buttermilk in its place. They turned out fabulous! They spread out a tiny bit more than when I use cream (not sure why that is, except the dough felt a little more wet)...but they turned out so tender and flavorful. I baked them a couple minutes longer than I normally do until they were golden brown. I took advantage of my oven since it was already hot, and satisfied my desire for an omelet by simply making "baked eggs" instead. I used one of my smaller ramekins (4 to 5 ounces, which is pretty tiny). I sprayed it with olive oil spray, placed a few tablespoons of lightly sauteed baby spinach in the bottom, finely diced mini San Marzano tomato, salt and pepper, a tablespoon of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, a thin pat of butter and then broke an egg over top and sprinkled a bit more shredded cheddar on top, popped it in a 400 degree oven for 12-14 minutes and baked it until the egg was set. It turned out fabulous. While it was baking, I made myself a couple of Applegate chicken apple sausage links. It was a delicious low-carb, wheat-free fall weekend breakfast, and the oven helped heat up my kitchen...which was a good thing this morning! One advantage I'd like to note about making the eggs this way was that it stayed hot in the little ramekin while I made my coffee, snapped a few photos, etc. Typically, an omelet cools off very quickly, so you need to serve it quickly if you want it to be warm when you eat it. If you are trying to make omelets for a crowd or multiple family members, it's almost impossible to prepare and serve them hot at the same time for everyone (I know this, because I have tried). These would be great to make at the holiday time when you are serving multiple guests and family members. They can be easily be customized to each person's taste by adding different "filling ingredients" and baking them at the same time on a tray. That way everyone (including the cook) can sit down and enjoy their own little ramekin of eggs that is still nice and at the same time. I don't know about your kitchen at the holiday time, but mine can get a bit crazy...and more often than not, by the time I get everyone else situated and served, mine is usually cold. I snapped some photos as well as the easy and versatile recipe below. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Chicken Noodle Soup -- Low Carb (Wheat/Grain Free)

Nothing warms me more quickly on a chilly day than chicken noodle soup -- but not just any old chicken noodle soup -- this was Low Carb Chicken Noodle Soup, made with wheat-free, grain-free egg noodles; that's right...NOODLES!!! We awoke to a chilly morning here in the Atlanta area. It was 37 degrees this morning -- Brrrrrrr!  It was only 59 degrees in the early afternoon. While preparing dinner last night, I also made a pot of homemade chicken stock by using a leftover partially eaten rotisserie chicken from the weekend. When I got home this evening, I removed the chicken from the bones, strained my stock and added a couple of thinly sliced carrots, couple of diced celery stalks, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to the pot and simmered it until the vegetables were tender. While it simmered, I made my easy peasy "egg noodles" which are simply crepes cut into noodles. I've even used them to make a low carb, wheat-free lasagna before! I snapped a few photos below as well as included the quick and easy recipe for my Chicken Noodle Soup -- Wheat-free, Low Carb, & Grain-free. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Roasted Butternut Squash Recipe & Dinner Idea

This evening I had a few different items that needed to be used in the fridge. I put them all together to make a simple and delicious meal that was wheat free, grain free and gluten free, but all made with fresh simple ingredients; no junky pre-packaged gluten-free items containing insulin spiking starches. Eliminating wheat and grains doesn't have to be time consuming or complicated to be delicious. I made simple grilled chicken breast cutlets by spraying with olive oil spray, sprinkling with McCormick Spicy Montreal Steak Seasoning and grilling for about 2-3 minutes per side. When I served them, I placed a couple small pats of Kerrygold's Garlic & Herb Butter on top to melt in and add no sauce was required. For our veggies and sides, I made roasted butternut squash and roasted brussels sprouts so I could "cook two birds with one stone"...LOL. I lined a large cookie sheet with foil and on one half I placed fresh brussels sprouts (that I had trimmed the ends off of and cut in half) and on the other half of my cookie sheet I placed diced butternut squash. I tossed both of them with olive oil, sea salt and black pepper (keeping them on their own side of the pan). I roasted them at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes (the cooking time varies based on the size of your sprouts and the size of your butternut cubes). While cooking, I tossed them around a couple times to evenly roast. easy grilled chicken cutlets took about 10 minutes from start to finish and I cooked 2 different kinds of veggies at the same time side by side in the oven...and the only clean up was tossing the foil from the cookie sheet (and our plates, of course). It was quick, easy and exceptionally good. Hubby kept raving about how good it was and it was one of the easiest meals I've made! Moral of the story is that it doesn't have to be complicated and time consuming to be delicious. I snapped a few photos below as well as the easy recipe for the roasted butternut squash (the same basic method applies to cooking the sprouts, too). Enjoy!

Monday, October 21, 2013

New Feature on Gourmet Girl Cooks!

This evening we had Autumn Chili leftover from last night's family dinner. It was just as good, if not better, this evening! I have one bowl left to have for lunch tomorrow. Fortunately, I was able to send some home with my kids or we would be eating it for the rest of this week.

I want to share some exciting news with you. I was recently asked to partner with Ziplist, a free online and mobile recipe box that includes a grocery list that will enable you to save your favorite recipes to a universal recipe box and/or a shopping list directly from my blog.

At the top of my blog, you will notice that there is a newly added category titled "Recipe Box". It's also on the right side of my blog until I determine the best location for it (see both locations circled below). When you click on "recipe box", it will enable you to create your own free Ziplist account. This will allow you to easily save recipes from my site as well as a host of others, such as Martha Stewart, Serious Eats, All Recipes, Epicurious, and Simply Recipes, just to name a few. You will also be able to save recipes from many of your other favorite blogs, as well. Think of it as sort of a central depository to house your favorite recipes as well as help you create shopping lists, assist you with meal planning and help you find grocery deals in your local stores.

Underneath my recent recipes, you will also notice a new blue "Save Recipe" button (see yesterday's chili recipe post for an example).  It looks like this:


You simply click on that button when you see it at the end of a recipe, and a page will pop up. Click on "Add to Recipe Box" or "Add to Shopping List".  Ziplist also has a smartphone app that will enable you to access your mobile shopping list while in the grocery store or on the go.

Some of you have asked me if you will still be able to access all the recipes on my blog like you used to. The answer to that question is YES! The only change is you will now also have the ability to save my recipes (as well as recipes from other partner sites and blogs) to your own "recipe box"; create a "shopping list", find local "grocery deals" as well as utilize their "meal planner". While I wish there was a more simple way to convert all my recipes to the Ziplist platform, it requires me to have to do them one at a time, and with over 600 posts it will take a little bit of time to get them all switched over. Please bear with me as I work behind the scenes to enable you to save all my recipes to your recipe box in the very near future. I hope you find this new feature helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Autumn Chili - Spicy & Sweet

This evening all 3 of my kids came for dinner. I made a big pot of my Spicy & Sweet Autumn Chili and my Easy Cheddar Black Pepper Biscuits for dinner. Normally when I make it, I cook it on top of the stove. Today I decided to make it in the crock pot so I wouldn't be tied to the kitchen for a few hours while it cooked and could get some other things done. It turned out great. I doubled the recipe which made a humongous pot of chili. The only other change I made besides cooking it in the crock pot and doubling it is that in today's batch, I used all diced/cubed beef instead of half ground beef, half cubed beef. Also, instead of using regular sharp cheddar cheese, I grated Kerrygold's Ballyshannon (a strong white cheddar cheese). It turned out awesome! In my Autumn Chili, I don't add beans, I roast cubed butternut squash and add it to the bowls when I serve it (it's natural sweetness helps balance the spiciness of the chili -- and it screams AUTUMN is here). I also heated some beans separately for my kids to add to their chili, too. I'd like to share my experience and windfall with you while shopping at Costco yesterday. 

I had originally planned to buy a roast and cut it up myself...but in looking at their "beef for stew" packages, I asked the butcher what kind of meat they used (it looked nice). He said that it could be anything or most of the time Top Round. I asked him what he meant by "anything" and he said that if they were cutting a better cut of meat and had small pieces that they could use for stew beef that they frequently used that too. Then he said...for instance, those 2 packages of meat you have in your hand...the one in your right hand is all beef tenderloin/filet mignon. I said ALL of it (it looked really good and different than the other packs). He said guess which package I picked up??? LOL I made 8 quarts of chili using 4-1/4 pounds of beef tenderloin!!! It was the same price per pound ($3.89/lb) as the regular stew beef -- so for $16.38 I walked away with that much well trimmed, beautiful beef tenderloin! I felt like a thief...LOL. I have to tell you...I may never make 8 quarts of chili again using over 4 pounds of beef tenderloin...but it was some of the BEST chili I have ever eaten! After slow cooking for 8 hours, it was so tender, but still intact. So, for all you Costco shoppers out there...keep a close eye on the "beef for stew" as its may stumble upon a windfall like I did. You can bet that I will be checking it out each time I go now...I'm thinking beef stroganoff, beef burgundy, beef kabobs...the list is endless. I snapped a few photos for you to see below. Enjoy!

Bagel Egg n' Bacon Breakfast Sandwich

Happy Sunday! I made the most awesome wheat-free breakfast sandwich today. This morning I got up early (it was only 45 degrees...brrrrr) and began working on a humongous pot of chili for dinner since all 3 of my kids are coming this evening. I got it all prepped and into what my hubby refers to as my "mama-jama" sized 8-quart crock pot. Most of the time I use my 6-quart crock pot, but since the whole family will be here and I'm hoping to have some leftovers, too...I decided to use the big one. To be completely honest, I initially tried putting it all in my 6-quart and when it reached the top and I still had a lot of stuff left to add...I had to transfer everything over to the big one...errrrr!!!  My chili is using over 4-1/4 pounds of beef if that gives you a hint as to the enormity of this pot of chili! I will post more on that later on. I am so excited to share my Bagel Egg n' Bacon Breakfast Sandwich with you now. I had a late breakfast since my chili expedition took much longer than I anticipated this morning. Yesterday, I made Maple Pecan Bagel-nuts and while I ate one in the traditional manner for yesterday's breakfast (spread with cream cheese)...this morning, I wanted to make a nice big breakfast sandwich with one of them since that would be what holds me until dinner this evening. I oven roasted some Maverick Ranch bacon this morning (nitrite/nitrate free), fried some organic eggs, thinly sliced sharp cheddar cheese and put it all together and made a breakfast sandwich so good that it would even make the wheat and grain eaters cry with envy!  ;-) No need for tears though because I would be more than happy to share. Anyway, I sliced one of my Maple Pecan Bagel-nuts (heated it in the oven), and then topped it with bacon, fried egg and cheese...and the slightly sweet maple pecan flavors in the bagel combined with the roasted bacon, egg and cheddar was pure heaven! I snapped a few photos for you to see below to give you an idea of what else you could do with these bagels if you decide to make them. Enjoy!

To show you how nice they hold bite down the hatch, and many more to go...
Two bites down...and the cheese keeps oozing...
Almost finished and that bagel has held up like...well, like a REAL bagel -- so, please remind me again what I need wheat for???   Answer: NOTHING!   ;-)
This is wheat-free beauty at it's finest...
Proof that there really is life after wheat!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Bagels -- Maple Pecan Bagel-nuts

This morning I slept in for a change! I slept for about 9 hours, which is what I typically get in 2 nights. Needless to say, I awoke feeling extremely energetic and refreshed this morning. Hubby had an appointment at 10:30, so I decided to take advantage of my morning alone and experiment a bit with one of my existing recipes for Bagel/Squagels. While I like my Bagel/Squagels just the way they are, my point in making them that way was basically to say "don't get hung up on the shape or look of old favorites like bagels". To prove that you could still make a tasty non-traditional substitution that accomplished the same purpose, last November I made bagels in a cookie sheet and simply cut them into squares; some with holes (squagels), some without holes (bagel toast) and some cut into sticks (bagel sticks)! Mission accomplished -- they helped to fulfill the joy of having a bagel-like device to slather with butter or cream cheese and enjoy with a cup of coffee or alongside eggs!

So, as I opened my eyes this morning...I thought -- Holy Moly -- I have a donut pan now...I wonder what would happen if I tried placing my bagel/squagel dough inside that and made ROUND bagels instead of Bagel/Squagels! Recently, I have also been thinking about making a non-savory version of my bagel/squagels...more along the lines of a cinnamon-raisin or chocolate chip type bagel. Since it is fall, I decided to go with a more fall-like flavor of maple pecan bagels. I wanted them to have a sweet undertone but not a dessert-like sweetness, if that makes any sense. So, I embarked on my ROUND bagel journey this morning. I decided to halve my regular Bagel/Squagel recipe (just in case they didn't turned out they way I had envisioned). I essentially stripped my old recipe of the herbs, spices and savory flavors and made a few other minor tweaks as well. I replaced the savory flavor with the flavors of maple, cinnamon and pecan and sweetened it with Swerve and a few drops of stevia. The new recipe made 6 beautiful round "bagels". I enjoyed one for breakfast this morning, sliced in half and spread with softened cream cheese alongside a cup of Nantucket Blend coffee. It was a perfect breakfast for our damp, chilly, overcast morning. I really enjoyed them. Because they don't have the "tough chewiness" of a traditional bagel, you should cool them thoroughly if you plan to slice them in half (since they are more fragile when hot). To cut mine in half, instead of placing it sideways on a cutting board and cutting it in half vertically, I placed it flat (bottom side down) with my hand on top and used a sharp serrated knife to carefully cut it horizontally (slowly so I didn't cut my hand accidentally). The texture of these was more dense than the donuts I made last week which were more light and cake-like in texture. These were more solid but not as dense as my Bagel/Squagels, probably because of  being cooked in a more enclosed donut pan and not having the same surface area exposed like you get when spreading out the Bagel/Squagel dough. I really liked these - they turned out like a cross between a bagel and a donut -- a "Bagel-nut" of sorts (half bagel, half donut). Whatever you call will call them delicious! If you decide to toast the sliced bagel-nuts, I would recommend using a toaster oven, if you have one, since they are a bit softer than my Bagel/Squagels (which toast nicely) or a traditional bagel. You can easily change the flavors and spices and make it more or less sweet to customize to your own taste. I snapped a few photos as well as the recipe for my Maple Pecan Bagel-nuts below. Enjoy!

Batter is in the pan...topped and sprinkled
Fresh out of the oven...
For perspective...this is how much they puffed up when baked (with batter to the top)

Maple Pecan Bagel-nuts
Makes 6


2 tablespoons coconut flour, sifted
1/2 cup blanched almond flour
3/4 cup ground golden flax seeds
1/4 cup confectioners style Swerve (or powdered erythritol)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 eggs
7 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons extra light olive oil or coconut oil
2 teaspoons pure maple extract
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
12 drops stevia, or to taste
Toppings, optional (1 tablespoon granular Swerve or erythritol, 1/4 cup chopped pecans)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly spray a 6-cavity donut pan with olive oil or coconut oil spray and set aside. 

In a medium sized bowl, mix first 6 dry ingredients together with a whisk to help break up any lumps. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture; add eggs, water, oil, maple extract, apple cider vinegar and stevia; mix until well combined.  Dough will be thick and somewhat sticky. Divide and spoon batter evenly among 6 molds; smooth tops with a finger, lightly dampened with water.

If desired, sprinkle with granular sweetener and chopped pecans, lightly pressing into top of bagels.  Bake for 20 to 23 minutes, or until the bagel feels done when lightly pressed near center.  Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing. Enjoy warm spread with cream cheese or butter, if desired.

*Note - Apple cider vinegar helps leaven the dough a bit and won't be tasted


Friday, October 18, 2013

Roast Beef Taco Cups -- "Fresh-Mex"

This evening's dinner was super quick to put together. I had half of the tri-tip beef roast left from dinner a couple of nights ago and I was in the mood for Mexican. A few weeks ago, I made Roast Beef Taco Cups and they were some of the best I had ever I decided to make those again this evening. All I had to do was dice the leftover beef roast and add 1/2 cup of water and my homemade taco seasoning and simmer it until all the liquid was absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. I served the taco beef chunks in little artisan romaine lettuce cups that I buy at Costco -- they make perfect taco cups. I topped our tacos with a little fresh salsa, freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes and a little dollop of sour cream. We also finished up the Brussels Sprouts, Bacon & Babybel Gratin left from last night. It was a perfect Friday night meal -- quick, delicious and it used up some of the food left from that last couple of nights -- win/win!  I snapped a few photos for you to see below as well as my recipe. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Brussels Sprout, Bacon & Babybel Gratin

This evening I put together a quick and fairly simple meal. I seasoned 6 chicken breast cutlets with salt and pepper and quickly sauteed a few minutes on each side in a bit of olive oil and then transferred them to a platter. I melted a couple tablespoons of Kerrygold's Garlic & Herb Butter in the hot skillet and scraped the little brown bits int he pan as it melted and then squeezed the juice of half of a lemon in with the butter and then tossed in a few tablespoons of capers. I put the chicken cutlets back into the pan with the lemon butter caper sauce to keep warm while I prepared the Brussels Sprout, Bacon & Babybel Gratin. It was super simple to put together. I cleaned, trimmed and halved a little over a pound of brussels sprouts and then steamed them in a couple tablespoons of water in a covered casserole dish in the microwave for about 7 minutes until tender (but not mushy). I drained them and tossed them with some butter, salt and pepper and placed them in a shallow baking dish and poured cream over top of them. I diced 5 mini Babybel cheese rounds and scattered those on top and then made a crumbly topping using almond meal cut in with butter, salt and pepper. I topped the casserole with the crumb mixture and baked it for about 20 minutes until it was rich, thick and bubbly. It was so good, yet so simple. It was a great combination of flavors, too.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Slow Cooked Tri-Tip Roast w/ Rich and Thick Parmesan Cauliflower Mash

This evening we had slow cooked tri-tip roast for dinner that was super simple to make. Last night I placed a 2-1/2 pound tri-tip roast in my crock-pot and cooked it overnight . Before hopping in the shower this morning, I took the roast out of the crock-pot and placed it on a platter to cool and then sliced it up and refrigerated it before leaving for work. It cooked for about 8 hours overnight. I can't say enough about how much I really like this cut of roast -- it's the second one I've made and it cooks up tender and juicy but stays together in nice neat slices when you cut it (instead of shredding like some roasts tend to do). It is fork tender and doesn't require a knife to cut the slices when you eat it. When I prepared it last night, I made a mirepoix to cook the roast on top of. A mirepoix is simply chopped carrot, celery and onion that is used in cooking as an "aromatic". It adds flavor and aroma to soups, stews, stocks and sauces. I diced 2 carrots, 2 stalks of celery and 1 small onion and added in 2 minced cloves of garlic and about 1/4 cup of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley. I placed the mirepoix in the bottom of my crock-pot as a base to cook the roast on. I seasoned the tri-tip roast liberally with sea salt and cracked black pepper and rubbed it all over and then placed it on top of the bed of veggies. I then sprinkled a pinch of dried thyme on top and added a splash  (2 to 3 tablespoons) of red wine (merlot) on top and then covered it and cooked it on high for the first 2 hours, then turned it down to low to cook for the last 6 hours. I sliced only half of the roast this morning for our dinner this evening and left the remaining half intact to use to make something else later this week. When I got home this evening, I strained the juices from the veggie mixture and discarded the cooked mirepoix and heated the juices (slightly more than 1 cup) until boiling and reduced it by almost half and then whisked in a couple tablespoons of butter, a couple tablespoons of heavy cream, pinch of thyme small splash of red wine (about 1 tablespoon) and then whisked in a tiny pinch of xanthum gum . I seasoned it with salt and pepper to taste. I wanted to make a concentrated demi-glace sauce (glaze-type) since I am not a big fan of gravy. A demi-glace is super concentrated and flavorful, so you don't need your food to swim in gravy for moistness and flavor. This roast is tender on its own and the demi-glace sauce simply adds a burst of concentrated flavor and richness. I served the roast with fresh yellow summer squash lightly sauteed in butter and my Rich and Thick Parmesan Cauliflower Mash along with a leftover Easy Cheddar Black Pepper Biscuit. It was a delicious "comfort food" style meal perfect for "hump-day" (Wednesday).  I snapped a few photos below as well as the recipe for my cauliflower mash. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

This & That Tuesday

Tonight's post is a random one. I thought I'd post a few random things that I've picked up in the last week or so to use in the kitchen. I ordered 3 of them from Amazon and the others I picked up at Bed Bath & Beyond.  I have also recently been asked to post some of my "finds and deals" that I pick up at Costco regularly since I shop there almost every single week. I have a mental inventory of their regular stock since I go so frequently...LOL...and my eyes always zoom in on the "new stuff" they carry from week to week. This evening, I am going to cook another tri-tip roast in my crock pot overnight for tomorrow's dinner. One of my followers recently told me that she looked for and found a tri-tip at her local grocery store and that it was pricey at $9.99/lb. I couldn't remember what I had paid for mine at Costco, but didn't recall it being that pricey, so when I went back there this weekend, I looked to see how much they were. They were $5.99/lb there -- quite a big difference in price! Of course, I ended up picking up another one since it was such a good deal and because it was a such a delicious roast when I made it a couple of weeks ago. So, while tonight's post really has nothing to do with Costco, I thought I'd share a few of my recent random kitchen finds for you to see below. Enjoy!

This is the donut pan I bought and used to make Cinnamon Maple Donuts this weekend!
I picked up this muffin top pan to make something fabulous...I just haven't figured out what yet!
I have had many people tell me they love this Paderno slicer gadget...and I found it on an Amazon special for $21 recently (regularly about $30) so I picked one up to try for myself -- I will let you know what I think about it as soon as I try mine out!

I found these recently at Bed Bath & Beyond -- they are only about 5 inches long -- I got them because they were cute (and useful)...and only about $2.00+ each

Monday, October 14, 2013

Chicken Pot Pie w/ Cheddar Herb Crust

Yesterday, both of my sons came over and had dinner with us. I know they don't cook for themselves during the week so I always try and make a "homestyle/comfort food meal" when they come. I decided to make my Chicken Pot Pie w/ Cheddar Herb Crust. It literally "screams" comfort food. First of all, I need to go ahead and apologize to all the grandmothers of the world...because "this isn't your Grandma's chicken pot pie"'s BETTER!  Honestly, when I eat this meal, I forget all about being wheat free -- I truly do. It's just plain good, regardless of what you do or do not eat! It's also a great way to use up leftover cooked chicken, or even better, leftover Thanksgiving turkey (which is not that far away)! Last night I didn't have any leftover chicken to use, so I just started from scratch and cooked some boneless chicken breasts that I diced and quickly sauteed beforehand. 

When I've made this pot pie in the past, it was always a bit of a challenge to transfer the rolled-out crust onto the top of my casserole dish without breaking it (and I know others experienced that, too). This time I rolled out my crust between 2 pieces of parchment paper to the shape of my casserole dish and then placed it on a cookie sheet and popped it into the freezer to chill for about 20 minutes (until firm but not frozen). Wow...I can't tell you HOW much better that worked in transferring the crust to the top of the casserole! As many of you know, I tend to be somewhat of a perfectionist (I'm working on that)...and I have to tell you, I was so tempted to make my crust look perfect...but I stopped myself. I decided that if the edges weren't perfect that it was okay; and that there was a word for's called "rustic". So, I allowed my pot pie to have a rustic somewhat raggedy edged crust...and you know what??? It still looked beautiful and tasted just as good (and I only cringed a couple of times). LOL. Even more importantly, my boys didn't even notice! We enjoyed the pot pie last night, and there was enough left to have for dinner again this evening, too. It tasted just as good reheated! I snapped a few photos as well as the recipe below. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Cinnamon Maple Donuts w/ Butter Pecan Frosting

Happy Sunday!  This morning I decided to make donuts for the first time. I recently purchased a donut pan and wanted to give it a try. These are wheat-free, grain-free, and have no sugar added. I made Cinnamon Maple Donuts w/ Butter Pecan Frosting. I used Swerve confectioners style sweetener to make the donuts and frosting with. I also added a few drops of stevia to my frosting at the end to get just the right amount of sweetness without changing the light and fluffy texture (which might have occurred had I added more dry sweetener). It was a perfect consistency. Note that I added some vanilla whey protein powder to the donuts to help boost the protein a bit (and improve texture) since I was making these to eat as my breakfast, not just as a treat. Between the eggs, almond flour and whey protein powder, these were light, yet substantial donuts and the most amazing part is that no sugar or wheat was necessary to make these delicious cake style donuts. As I have mentioned before, I have been using Swerve for a year or more now and it is one of my favorite sweeteners to bake with because I enjoy both its taste and convenience of measuring cup for cup like sugar.I snapped a few photos for you to see below as well as the recipe. Enjoy!

Cinnamon Maple Donuts w/ Butter Pecan Frosting


For the Donuts:
1-1/2 cups blanched almond flour
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Swerve Confectioners Sweetener (or powdered erythritol)
1/4 cup vanilla whey protein powder (or use unflavored powder and add 1 teaspoon vanilla)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons "extra light" olive oil (not extra virgin olive oil)
2 teaspoons pure maple extract
1-1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

For the Butter Pecan Frosting:
1/4 cup butter (4 tablespoons), softened
1/4 cup Swerve Confectioners Sweetener (or powdered erythritol)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure maple extract
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
14 drops stevia extract 
1/2 cup chopped pecans


For the donuts, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly spray a 6-cavity donut mold pan with olive oil spray or coconut oil spray; set aside.  In a large bowl, sift or whisk almond flour, Swerve Sweetener, protein powder, baking powder, salt and cinnamon (removing any lumps).  In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and sour cream until smooth; add oil, maple extract and apple cider vinegar and whisk until smooth. Pour wet mixture into dry ingredients and mix well until smooth.  Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop batter into well greased donut pan, filling almost to the top.  Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for about 5 minutes; flip onto wire rack to cool completely. Makes approximately 15 donuts. Frost or glaze as desired.  

For the frosting, in a medium bowl, cream softened butter and Swerve Sweetener until light and fluffy; beat in cream, maple extract, cinnamon, salt and stevia drops until well blended, light and fluffy. Lightly frost donuts and top with chopped pecans. 

*Its best to frost donuts as they are used. Store any remaining frosting in the refrigerator.