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Sara

Sara and me

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Just finished reading The Parrot Who Owns Me: The Story of a Relationship by Joanna Burger. Such an interesting book – nonfiction. The author is an ornithologist by profession (and a PhD) and this memoir of sorts is about her Red-Lored Amazon parrot she and her husband own. But no, it’s the parrot who owns her/them. Tiko tolerates Joanna’s husband Mike. Joanna and Tiko bonded. But it took years. This parrot breed mates for life, and Joanna is definitely Tiko’s mate. They acquired Tiko when he was already 30 years old (they live up to age 80 or so), hence it took a long time for Tiko to decide that Joanna could be trusted. This book is just so charming, and interesting. The author weaves into the story lots of facts about parrots in general, this type of parrot, as well as a variety of other birds she has studied. She’s an author of many other books about birds (scholarly works). She’s a professor and world-renowned researcher at Rutgers. I’m not a birder, but I do love books about the relationships between birds and people. If you know someone who loves birds, they’d definitely enjoy this book.

Also finished reading My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. A book club friend recommended this book, I immediately bought it on my Kindle. I could NOT put the book down. I devoured it. Any other “work” I should have been doing was swept aside as I read and read of Resolute’s adventures. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America. This book is the story of her life. The people she met, the men in her life, her children, and always about her indefatigable energy for life. Always hoping to return to Jamaica.

Finished The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek: A Novel by Kim Richardson.  It’s a novel about the first mobile library in Kentucky (this is the 1930s) and the fierce, brave packhorse librarians who wove their way from shack to shack dispensing literacy, hope, and ? just as importantly ? a compassionate human connection. The heroine in this book is called a blue-skin, a genetic mutation that causes the skin to be dark indigo blue. In rural Kentucky, most of the blue-skins were shamed and caused fright in people who saw them. The author decided to share this rare condition in the book and it wove its tentacles into many of the relationships the hard-working librarian made.  Partly the book is about library books, booklets, recipes, but mostly as it says above, it’s about the connections the librarian made with remote people who went weeks or more without seeing another human being. Very unusual book about the hardships endured in that time, but the hardship and bravery of the librarians who went out day in and day out, often for 2-3 days at a time to deliver books.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This book was offered as a bargain book from Bookbub, and something about the description resonated with me – maybe because of my Old Testament readings regarding the lives of shepherds back in ancient days. I utterly loved this book. It might not suit everyone – it’s a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, the son of a farming family, who sabotages everything in his being about attending further education and leaves as soon as he is able (probably about 8th grade, I’d guess). And becomes a shepherd. And at night, he read literature that he accumulated from his grandfather. He bickers with his father, eventually moves out. One night in a pub with his blokes (friends) he enters some kind of a contest in the pub and realizes he has a lot more knowledge than he thought he did. In time he applies to get what I’d call here in the U.S. a G.E.D (high school diploma), which he does, and then he applies to Oxford, on a whim. And gets in. He graduates. He applies his knowledge to his rural life. He marries, has children, but still, his day to day life is all about his Herdwick sheep although he does have a day job too working for UNESCO. You’ll learn more about sheep than you might have wanted to know. I absolutely loved, LOVED this book. If you are interested, James Rebanks has a Twitter feed, called @herdyshepherd1, and you can sign up to get updates from him about his farm and his sheep. I don’t do Twitter or I would.

Moloka’i: A Novel by Alan Brennert. A riveting book about the early days of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) in Hawaii, and the stigma attached to the victims AND their families. I could hardly put it down. It chronicles the story of a young woman, diagnosed almost as a child, and ostracized from her family, subsequently learning to live alone and remote. You yearn to hug her, comfort her. Yet she finds eventually happiness and peace. A beautiful book worth reading. Was a book club read.

House by the Fjord by Rosalind Laker. What a darling story. From amazon: A touching and atmospheric love story – When Anna Harvik travels to Norway in 1946 in order to visit the family of her late husband, the country is only just recovering from five cruel years of Nazi occupation. So it is with surprise that she finds in this cold and bitter country the capacity for new love and perhaps even a new home. I just loved this book – could hardly put it down; yet it’s not a mystery. You’ll come away with a desire to find that house by the fjord. I want to go there and have some coffee with the Anna, who was a Brit, yet fell head over heels in love with Norway.

Running Blind (Jack Reacher) by Lee Child. A Jack Reacher mystery. From amazon: Across the country, women are being murdered, victims of a disciplined and clever killer who leaves no trace evidence, no fatal wounds, no signs of struggle, and no clues to an apparent motive. They are, truly, perfect crimes. Until Jack Reacher gets in the middle of it. A page turner, as are all of the Jack Reacher stories.

Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde. If you like Hyde’s novels, for the month of September many of her books are available on Kindle at a very reduced price ($1.99 and $.99 each). Go grab them while they’re available. I just purchased 6 of her books. This story, which takes place in a kind of Texas backwater, sets a town into an angry mess when two young boys, one white, one black, become friends, something most folks don’t like. At all. There’s a dog involved, the father of the black boy, the father of the white boy plus a woman who lives in the town and does her best to avoid people altogether. But they all get fused. Wonderful story.

Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart. A sweet book, true story, of the author and her friend, during one summer in the midst of their college years, going by train to NYC and ultimately getting a job of Tiffany’s. This took place in the 40s, and at the time no women were ever seen on the showroom floors, but these two pretty young women were the harbinger of equality, though none of that comes into play here. They were “runners,” who whisked orders and money to and fro from the salesMEN to the office. They stood in silence near the elevators on the ground floor and waited for a sale to take place. They lived in cramped quarters. They enjoyed everything NYC had to offer them at the time, and they were wowed by an occasional celebrity sighting. Cute read.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. You might think what a stretch – what does an Indian (Native American) tribe have to do with the FBI. Read and you’ll find out. This is back in time, 50s I think, and a number of murders have taken place on the Osage Reservation. No one can seem to solve them, and those who try also get caught in the crossfire. Finally a man is brought in from back East. That’s where the inception of the FBI comes into play, though there was no FBI then. This is a very interesting read, probably sufficient info to do a book club read. A book everyone should read if you know little (or a lot) about the abominable treatment given to the Native Americans over the last several hundred years. A wake up call, even for today.

Oh wow. Just finished reading David Guterson’s book, East of the Mountains. You know this author from his most well known book, Snow Falling on Cedars. I loved the Cedars book when I read it years ago, and assumed I’d like this other book (not new) as well. Have you learned to trust my judgment when I tell you, you HAVE to read a book? When I tell you the story line, I can already hear you thinking . . . oh no, I don’t want to read this kind of a book. Please trust me. You’ll come away from it being glad you did. It tells the tale of a 70ish man, a widower, who has been diagnosed with terminal colon cancer. He’s a retired physician, knows the scenario of death by cancer, and doesn’t want to do it. He decides he’s going to take a bird hunting trip, east of the mountains in Washington State (Guterson writes a lot about his part of the world), with his two dogs, and he’ll commit suicide. He sets up an elaborate ruse with his children and grandchildren, and heads out. All of this, so far, takes place in the first 10 pages of the book. First he has an accident in his car, and that sets off a cavalcade of incidents. You’ll learn a whole lot about flora and fauna (one of Guterson’s writing attributes). You’ll learn a lot about apple and pear orchards, which abound in eastern Washington (I’ve been there, it’s beautiful, pastoral and full of fruit). Flashbacks of his life story are interspersed throughout, his growing up on an apple farm, meeting his wife, his service in WWII, their reuniting after the war and the life they had. You’ll learn some about his cancer pain, the grief of his wife’s death 5 years prior, and about his resolve to end it all. Please don’t NOT read this because  you’ll think it’s depressing. It is and it isn’t. It’s so much more for the better. And I just read, this book is being made into a movie.

A fabulous read – Catherine Ryan Hyde’s newest book, Have You Seen Luis Velez? I marvel sometimes about how authors ever come up with the ideas they do, to create the premise for a novel. And this one is right up there at the top of the list. Raymond, a youngster, an older teenager, who has a big lack of self-confidence and feels like an odd duck sometimes, reluctantly (at first) befriends an elderly woman in the apartment building where he lives with his mother and step-father. He discovers she’s blind and needs some help, which he gives her. Then he discovers that there is a lot more to know and understand about this elderly little lady down the hall and he begins a journey to try to find someone for her, the Luis Velez of the title. If you want to use coming-of-age to describe this, that’s partly true. He learns all about himself, the abilities he didn’t know he had, the kindness that lives within him that he never realized was there, and the friends he makes along the way who make some life-changing differences in his young life. He discovers he has some gifts that he can give to others, something most teenagers don’t understand. I can’t recommend this book highly enough – it’s a bit of a tear-jerker, but for every good reason and moral character trait described in the book. It’s there.

Magic Hour: A Novel

Excellent Women

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) by Min Jin Lee

An American Marriage (Oprah’s Book Club): A Novel by Tayari Jones.

Recently finished Sally Field’s memoir (autobiography) called In Pieces.

If you want grit, well, read Kristen Hannah’s newest book, The Great Alone: A Novel.

You’ve got to read Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book – Take Me With You. What a story.  From Amazon’s description: August Shroeder, a burned-out teacher, has been sober since his nineteen-year-old son died. Every year he’s spent the summer on the road, but making it to Yellowstone this year means everything. The plan had been to travel there with his son, but now August is making the trip with Philip’s ashes instead. An unexpected twist of fate lands August with two extra passengers for his journey, two half-orphans with nowhere else to go. What none of them could have known was how transformative both the trip—and the bonds that develop between them—would prove, driving each to create a new destiny together. Have a tissue handy at the end. It’s such a charming, sweet story. You’ll fall in love with the young boys, and fall in love with them again 10 years later.

The Last Letter from Your Lover: A Novel by JoJo Moyes.

Mark of the Lion : A Voice in the Wind, An Echo in the Darkness, As Sure As the Dawn (Vol 1-3)by Francine Rivers.

Flight of the Sparrow: A Novel of Early America

Answer As a Man

Celeste Ng Little Fires Everywhere.

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright.

C.J. Box’s book The Disappeared (A Joe Pickett Novel).

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.

The Boston Girl: A Novel by Anita Diamant.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen.

Leaving Blythe River: A Novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde. A

The Girl with Seven Names by Hyanseo Lee.

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian.

The Good Widow: A Novel by Lisa Steinke.

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes. W

How It All Began: A Novel by Penelope Lively.

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in IP, Pork, on November 19th, 2019.

herb_garlic_pork_tenderloin_IP

Tender, juicy, and oh-so easy in the Instant Pot

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you have probably figured out I’m a pretty experienced cook. Not a chef – just a regular home cook. And you’d think I’d know how to make just about anything. But I have had to learn the ins and outs of the instant pot. I love the thing, use it once or twice a week to hard boil eggs (which are just the best way). And make soups and stews in it. As a family of one, though, I generally don’t cook a pork tenderloin anymore (except for guests), just because it leaves me with a lot of leftover meat that may or may not be all that juicy when reheated.

Yet, I’m a sucker for learning something new. My local Bloomingdale’s has a very small demonstration kitchen right in the middle of the cookware department. I was walking nearby after I’d been into the store to buy a couple hundred dollars worth of Nespresso pods for my beloved machine. My Nespresso machine needs to be buried with me – I want it in heaven. Oh, I’m going to be cremated . . .well, that presents a problem, doesn’t it? Not much good to have a cremated Nespresso. Oh I’m getting way off topic, here! Anyway, I noticed there was a cooking class going on, I paused, and grabbed a flyer. And now I’m on the mailing list. The classes are ridiculously cheap/free. All I had to do was buy myself a $10 gift card which I could use as a gift or for myself – which I did – I bought the OXO Good Grips Silicone Egg Rack, plus a flat rack that’s not metal for the IP too. I’ve used the egg rack already – my hard boiled eggs are now much more yolk-centered, which I like. Haven’t yet used the rack.

Back to business – so I signed up to take the pork tenderloin class for the IP. The chef, Sandra Hauser, gives classes a couple times a week. Many aren’t interesting to me, but this one was, and we were served the pork, mashed potatoes and an Oreo cheesecake (made in IP – will share that recipe soon).

First she made a fresh herb rub with a lot of garlic in it. After the tenderloin was oiled well with EVOO, she rolled the meat around in the herb rub, then sautéed it in the IP – just a couple of minutes on each side. Then she added some big sprigs of herbs, some chicken broth and set the IP to cook for ONE MINUTE. Yes, one minute. Once the IP had finished that part of the cycle, she began watching the timer on the IP itself, which starts counting up once it’s finished. She waited 10 minutes, quick released the pressure and removed the pork to a heated platter, then tented the meat with foil. She turned the IP to sauté again and boiled down the pan juices. Meanwhile she’d made a monstrous mound of mashed potatoes (no I didn’t eat even one bite) and served both with the pan juices.

You can’t really tell from the picture that the pork is perfectly cooked. She gave advice about that – if the tenderloin is about a pound, the meat needs 10 minutes of resting time after the one minute under pressure. If it’s more like 1 1/2 pounds per tenderloin, then it needs about 13 or 14 minutes rest time. So be sure to weigh the tenderloin before cooking this. The meat was perfection. Just the right kind of pink in the middle and very tender and juicy.

What’s GOOD: the meat was ever so tender and juicy. Perfectly cooked. Who knew? The IP is quite a magical piece of equipment. Just have everything else ready and finish up during that 10-14 minutes of resting time. The meat does like to sit after it’s out of the IP for a few minutes, however. That’s when you boil down the pan juices. So very tasty. Yes, I’ll be making this next time I have house guests.

What’s NOT: nothing at all. Easy dish.

printer-friendly PDF and Mastercook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

IP Garlicky Fresh Herb Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

Recipe By: Cooking class at Bloomingdale’s, South Coast Plaza, 11/19 (Sandra Hauser)
Serving Size: 3

1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin
1 tablespoon EVOO — for pork
2 tablespoons EVOO — for searing
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 sprigs fresh thyme
HERB RUB:
1 large garlic clove — finely chopped (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon Italian parsley — fresh, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary — minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme — minced
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
GARNISH:
2 tablespoons Italian parsley — minced

NOTE: You may use dried herbs in this – use a teaspoon dried in place of a tablespoon fresh.
1. DRY RUB: Combine all ingredients and set aside.
2. Remove any silverskin from the pork tenderloin. Rub the small amount of EVOO on the pork, then gently pat the dry rub on all surfaces.
3. Heat IP on saute function and add the remaining EVOO, then add the pork and brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. No more than that, or the pork will begin to cook through.
4. Add the chicken broth to the pot along with the sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Close and lock lid and set IP to manual cook for ONE MINUTE. Yes, one minute. As soon as the one minute sound occurs, start a timer for 10 minutes or watch the screen on the IP. If the pork tenderloin is about a pound, you’ll want to let the IP sit for 10 minutes (meanwhile, the pork will continue to cook at pressure, but in off position). If the tenderloin is closer to 1-1/2 pounds, set timer for 12 minutes. Quick-release pressure at appropriate time, use instant read thermometer inserted into the middle of the thickest part of the meat, looking for 140°F. You can replace lid and bring back to pressure for another 2-3 minutes and read temperature again. Don’t overcook the meat or it will dry out.
5. Remove pork to a heated platter and tent with foil for 5 minutes.
6. Turn IP to saute and reduce the pan juices by about half, about 3-4 minutes.
7. Slice tenderloin on the diagonal and pour pan juices over the top. Garnish with Italian parsley.
Per Serving: 417 Calories; 23g Fat (47.4% calories from fat); 53g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 148mg Cholesterol; 760mg Sodium.

Posted in Fish, on November 14th, 2019.

slow_roasted_salmon_sicilian

Sort of looks like a jumbled mess there, but it really isn’t. It’s supposed to look like that. A kind of rustic way to pull chunks of salmon, slow-roasted, then garnishing with a very flavorful olive and caper relish.

This recipe came from the salmon class Phillis Carey did a few weeks ago. It was SO delicious. I have some salmon in the refrigerator that I bought yesterday and I’ll be making this one night and the Tropical Salmon the next night.

There are a couple of things that are different about this – first, it’s slow-roasted, which makes for a very tender and juicy piece of fish. There are a few other recipes on my blog for slow-roasting salmon, and I think all of them came from a Phillis Carey class. The other thing is the method you use to serve it. Once the salmon is roasted, you use a big fork (easier with a big fork) to pull off small to medium chunks. Not orderly, even pieces, but chunks, randomly. And that’s what you serve. Or put it out whole, on a serving platter (heated) and gently tug the pieces apart with the fork, and garnish with the very flavorful sauce/relish.

Phillis took a trip (a tour she led) to Sicily last year and she said at a class after her return, that she’d be incorporating various recipes she gathered or devised herself, from her Sicilian adventure. And this is one of them, obviously. The sauce on top is a combo of oil, chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, a bunch of Castelvetrano olives, shallots, capers, lemon zest and garlic. Do seek out the Castelvetrano if you can – I have to buy them at a specialty market near me (and they aren’t exactly inexpensive) but they keep for months in the refrigerator. Someone told me Costco (some) carry a really huge jar of Castelvetrano, but I’d never be able to use up that many! The olives are a ripe olive, but they have a wonderful texture and taste all their own. If you can’t find them, use some other kind of green olive (NOT the ones  you’d put in a martini, however).

The slow-roasting is a simple task – at 300°F – and I always put the rack in the lower half of my oven to do this. The roasting takes a max of 20-25 minutes. Don’t overcook it. The beauty of this dish is that you can serve it at room temp. Would make for a lovely brunch dish. So count this recipe as versatile.

What’s GOOD: the succulence of the salmon when slow-roasted. The sauce is fabulous. And so very easy. And I like the rough-cut, pulled apart look of the salmon too. Different. Would be lovely for a company meal, or easy for a weeknight dinner too.

What’s NOT: can’t think of anything.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Slow-Roasted Whole Salmon Fillet with Sicilian Sauce

Recipe By: Cooking class, Phillis Carey, Oct. 2019
Serving Size: 7

3 1/2 pounds salmon — 1-2 sides or salmon (halved is what’s meant here), pin bones removed, with or without skin
1/3 cup EVOO — plus more for drizzling
1/3 cup Italian parsley — chopped
12 whole olives — Castelvetrano type, chopped (or other green type olives)
3 tablespoons shallots — finely chopped
3 tablespoons capers — rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons lemon zest — plus 3 T of lemon juice
2 cloves garlic — finely minced
freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Place the oven rack in the center or slightly below center.
2. On a large, rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper, arrange fish, prettier side up. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with EVOO.
3. Roast the fish until just opaque in the center, about 20-25 minutes. To serve, using a fork, separate serving sized pieces of the salmon (they’ll be in irregular shapes) and put on serving platter. Top with the Sicilian olive sauce and serve. This fish can also be served cooled to room temp.
4. SICILIAN SAUCE: In a bowl mix 1/3 cup EVOO, parsley, olives, shallot, capers, lemon zest and lemon juice, garlic, then season with freshly ground black pepper.
Per Serving: 369 Calories; 19g Fat (47.4% calories from fat); 46g Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 118mg Cholesterol; 253mg Sodium.

Posted in Desserts, on November 9th, 2019.

cherry_cheesecake_trifle

The title is a bit of a misnomer, I think. There isn’t much “trifle” here. It’s a layered kind of cheesecake pudding with Amaretto overtones and accented with sweet, dark cherries.

My friend Cherrie does a girls’ luncheon every October. She calls it a witches lunch and does all kinds of witch-type themes. We’re supposed to come in some kind of costume. I wore a Halloween apron that says BOO on it. I’ve never been much of a costume person. Most of the ladies had very fancy Halloween head paraphernalia, or hats, or scarves, or orange/black feathers. The apron was just fine for me. Some just wore black. But all that aside, it was very fun. I offered to bring dessert and this pudding kind of thing seemed just right.

The original recipe came from Taste of Home (I didn’t try to look it up online), just copied it from a booklet Cherrie gave me. What’s missing from the recipe for a “trifle” is some kind of cake – like ladyfingers, or pound cake – which is more common in a trifle. So how it got named a trifle is beyond me.

What you see there in the cup (a beverage cup) is a layer of Amaretto-scented cheesecake pudding (not a cooked type), a layer of dark sweet cherries, then topped with a bunch of Cool-Whip, then accented with one cherry and some shaved chocolate. I made the cheesecake part (most of it) the day before. It’s merely cream cheese, powdered sugar and Amaretto mixed together. Just before serving you lighten it up with some Cool-Whip. That was a little bit tedious as the cheesecake part was relatively firm, and the other, obviously, very light and fluffy. It took a couple of minutes of light folding to get it all to combine. It worked. That went into the bottom of the cup. The day before I’d also cooked the frozen cherries with sugar and vanilla and let them chill in the refrigerator overnight.

Cherrie’s daughter-in-law Brianna helped me compose all these desserts. I was very grateful for her help because it was a bit tedious to make these for 13 people. Probably took about 20 minutes altogether with two of us working at it. So, one piece of advice, don’t make this for a large group (recipe said not to make it ahead, probably because of the Cool-Whip not holding  up in the cheesecake part). For 6-8 people, it wouldn’t be difficult.

Since I’ve now made this, I’ve decided to change-up the recipe a little bit. First, I’d use real whipped cream for the topping. But I’d still use the Cool-Whip for the cheesecake part. I’d also cook the cherries differently – I’d use my favorite recipe for cherries, Fresh Bing Cherry Compote. They’re flavored with allspice, clove and cinnamon and poached in red wine. THIS recipe used frozen cherries – which will work just fine with that recipe for fresh Bing cherries. The only other change I’ve made to this recipe is to use some of the flavorful juice – I spooned some of it in the middle, and then some more on the top. Made the finished dessert look prettier. So, the recipe below incorporates all of those changes I’d make.

What’s GOOD: so creamy and delicious. If you don’t like cream, or creamy pudding like desserts, give this a pass. It was a great dessert in my book.

What’s NOT: you can’t make this up ahead – needs composing just before serving. Also, it’s a bit time-consuming to assemble, so don’t make this for a big group. Much too tedious. But for 6-8 it would be fine.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Cherry Cheesecake Trifles

Recipe By: Adapted from Taste of Home
Serving Size: 6

CHERRIES:
1 pound cherries — fresh, stemmed, pitted, halved *
1/4 cup sugar
1 whole clove
1 whole allspice berry
1 stick cinnamon
1/2 cup red wine
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
AMARETTO CREAM CHEESE FILLING:
8 ounces cream cheese — softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons Amaretto
8 fluid ounces Cool Whip® — Extra Creamy type, thawed
TRIFLE:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
GARNISH:
6 cherries — from the cooked batch above
shaved chocolate

* Or use same quantity of frozen and thawed unsweetened cherries. Recipe indicates using frozen (hence cold) may affect cooking time.
1. CHERRIES: In a medium saucepan heat cherries, sugar, clove, allspice berry, cinnamon and red wine over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir in. If possible, make this a day ahead and chill, allowing the flavors to meld.
2. FILLING: In a medium bowl, beat softened cream cheese and sugar with a mixer at med-high speed until smooth and creamy. Add Amaretto, beating to combine. Add whipped topping and beat until smooth. Do not make this ahead.
3. TRIFLE: Whip the heavy cream with sugar until stiff peaks form. Layer Amaretto cream cheese on bottom of short parfait glasses or cups, a layer of cherries with some of the juice, then add the whipped cream. With a spoon, swirl the whipped cream up to a slight peak if possible and that’s where you’ll place the single cherry.
4. GARNISH: Garnish with additional cherries if available, drizzle with a bit more of the cherry juices and shave chocolate over the top.
Per Serving: 521 Calories; 31g Fat (54.0% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 54g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 96mg Cholesterol; 148mg Sodium.

Posted in Fish, on November 3rd, 2019.

tropical_roasted_salmon

That salmon was (and looks) so moist, you can almost see the juices running. You need to make this.

When Phillis Carey taught the salmon class a couple of weeks ago, she said of all the recipes she was sharing that evening, this one was her favorite. I could understand why as soon as the first bite entered my mouth. The piquant taste of the sweet pineapple (underneath that salmon, you just can’t see it) enhanced by the Thai sweet chili sauce (Trader Joe’s has it). I wanted more. This entire recipe would likely come together in less than 30 minutes, including the rice if you started that first thing. You can make the sauce while the salmon is cooking. The fish is placed on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet on top of half-rings of pineapple. If you have fresh pineapple, great, otherwise the Dole canned stuff works fine with this. You do want skinless salmon – reason?  – because you want the flavors to enter the fish both top and bottom.

The sauce: melted butter, the Thai sweet chili sauce, cilantro, garlic, ginger, sesame oil and red pepper flakes. That mixture is brushed all over the top of the salmon and some of it runs off, which, hopefully, gets absorbed underneath. Any of the juices that end up on the pan should be spooned out over the salmon when served.

What’s GOOD: the flavor, first and foremost. I wished my piece had been bigger, I liked it so much. Loved the little bit of pineapple underneath. Phillis used canned pineapple. It might be a stunner if you used fresh pineapple. A keeper of a recipe.

What’s NOT: nothing, really. Don’t make more than you can eat – my opinion – fish doesn’t ever taste as good warmed over. That succulent salmon gets overcooked when you reheat it.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Tropical Roasted Salmon with Ginger, Pineapple and Sesame Seeds

Recipe By: Cooking class, Phillis Carey, Oct. 2019
Serving Size: 6

12 pineapple rings in juice — fresh or canned, drained
36 ounces salmon fillets — skinless (can also use swordfish)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter — melted
3 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons cilantro — minced
3 cloves garlic — minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger — minced or smashed
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
toasted sesame seeds for garnish
thinly sliced green onions, for garnish
lime wedges, for serving, or drizzle with fresh lime juice just before serving

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick spray. Arrange pineapple slices by twos on the foil. Season both sides of salmon with salt and pepper, and place a fillet on each set of pineapple slices.
3. In a small bowl whisk together butter, chili sauce, cilantro, garlic, ginger, sesame oil and red pepper flakes. Brush all over salmon fillets.
4. Roast until salmon is cooked through, about 20-25 minutes, depending on thickness. Switch oven to broil and broil for 2 minutes, or until fish is slightly golden. Garnish with sesame seeds, green onions, and serve with lime wedges to squeeze on top. Serve with coconut milk rice and asparagus, if it suits your menu.
Per Serving: 553 Calories; 12g Fat (19.0% calories from fat); 36g Protein; 79g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 104mg Cholesterol; 121mg Sodium.

Posted in Fish, Salads, on October 29th, 2019.

smoked_salmon_pea_prosciutto_salad

Talk about a vibrantly colored salad, and full of texture and flavor!

Last week my friend Cherrie and I attended a cooking class with Phillis Carey. It was all about salmon. And I’ll share all the salmon recipes she prepared that evening (four) plus the dessert (cookies – I didn’t eat them because I shouldn’t but Cherrie attested to their deliciousness). This salad was such a standout. On this anti-lectin diet I’m on, I’m not supposed to eat sugar snaps or peas, but I ate the peas and one sugar snap; I just couldn’t help myself! What I loved about this salad was all the textures in it – Phillis even mentioned it as she was explaining the recipe – it’s served with a simple lemon vinaigrette. It was SO good. All of it. She blanched the sugar snaps and the fresh peas (although you can use frozen, thawed peas). Everything could be made ahead – you’d just have to compose the salad immediately before serving it – and it would be best to serve individual servings because you can make sure each person gets a specific share of the smoked salmon. And the crispy prosciutto added a lovely saltiness to the salad. So worth the effort.

In this case, Phillis said to use hard-smoked salmon. This is not a place for regular, thinly sliced smoked salmon, lox style. So seek out a grocer/butcher store that carries chunks of smoked fish. Or you could use canned smoked fish (which I just happen to have in my pantry). This could easily be a main dish, just make it in a larger portion. Great for a warm summer night – it was one the night we attended the class. We’ve been having Indian summer weather in SoCal this past week or two. Much too hot for my liking.

But, as a complete aside – – – a few months ago I had solar panels installed on my house. It was a big undertaking, and expensive (I paid up front for it). They guaranteed I’d have a 55% or more reduction of my electric bill. Not only did I have 2 swimming pools (regular and separate spa), but 3 A/C units (one for each floor of my house plus the wine cellar). Hence I use a lot of power. But then, I decided to empty my big swimming pool and had a deck built into/over the space. Last week I got my first electric bill since I did that deck. Talk about thrilled. We’ve had summer weather here since June and the A/C units run a lot . . . my bill was $37. Oh my goodness, was I thrilled. I danced a jig! That’s WITH the A/C running every day but about one or two. Over the winter, I’m certain I’ll be getting a $0 bill. Happiness.

What’s GOOD: Do try it. Look how vibrant it appears – love all the colors of green, and I did love all the texture in it. Loved the hard-smoked salmon with the greens. A keeper.

What’s NOT: nary a thing.

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Smoked Salmon, Pea, Arugula and Prosciutto Salad

Recipe By: From a cooking class with Phillis Carey
Serving Size: 4

4 tablespoons EVOO — divided use
2 ounces prosciutto — thinly sliced across into strips
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/4 cups green peas — fresh, cooked, or frozen, thawed
12 ounces sugar snap peas — about 3 cups, trimmed, blanched
4 ounces arugula — about 6 cups packed
10 ounces hard-smoked salmon — flaked in large pieces

1. Heat 1 T. EVOO in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add prosciutto and cook, stirring often, until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain. Set aside.
2. Whisk lemon juice and mustard in a large bowl. Gradually add 3 T EVOO, whisking constantly, until emulsified; season vinaigrette with salt and pepper.
3. Working in batches, cook green peas and sugar saps in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp tender, about 2 minutes per batch. Immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water and swoosh peas around until cold; this sets their color and halts the cooking. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.
4. Add green peas, sugar snaps and arugula to bowl with vinaigrette and toss until well coated with dressing. Toss in prosciutto strips; season with salt and pepper.
5. Arrange salad on a platter or individual plates and top with smoked salmon and serve.
Per Serving: 307 Calories; 18g Fat (53.4% calories from fat); 22g Protein; 14g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 26mg Cholesterol; 957mg Sodium.

Posted in Appetizers, Gundry-friendly, on October 25th, 2019.

zucchini_hummus

A variation on a hummus theme. So delicious. You’d never know it was made with zucchini!

I’ve kind of begun to tire of hummus. Actually – no, I AM tired of hummus. Seems like it’s become so commonplace, and so popular, nearly every hostess serves it. Therefore, I got tired of it. But then, now that I’m on this anti-lectin thing, regular hummus or garbanzo beans are out. Besides the calories (although I know – I know – beans are good for us – I just can’t eat them unless they’ve been pressure cooked, which kills the lectins), I’m kind of past the taste of garbanzo – they do have a unique flavor.

So, when I saw this recipe for hummus made from zucchini, I knew I could adapt it to fit my lectin-free diet. I just had to peel and seed the zucchini. Everything else in this was fine. And the taste? Oh gosh. It was fabulous! Even though I’m tired of hummus, somehow, eating this I felt differently about it – just knowing it was zucchini. It has the texture of hummus. It has the flavor of hummus. But better, by far.

If you make this, you don’t have to peel and seed the zucchini like I do – but I think taking off the green skin will keep this looking more brown, like hummus – with the green skin, I’m not sure about the color. What’s on top – black sesame seeds, some good EVOO, some ground cumin, and I’d forgotten the smoked paprika (I added it after I took the photo).

Everyone ate it – that bowl was gone by the time I served dinner. I have a little bit left in my frig, and I still have a few of the fresh-cut carrots and celery. Maybe I’ll have that for my lunch.

The only time-consuming thing was roasting the zucchini. It took longer than the recipe indicated – and you definitely do not want to roast these to the point of drying out. That would not be good. Into the food processor everything else goes (garlic, cumin, oil – maybe water, although I didn’t add any) and some tahini – sesame seed paste). That last part is what gives it the hummus taste. Sesame seed paste is, in and of itself, a very unique flavor. So when my guests ate it, they thought it was garbanzo hummus. Everyone was intrigued – even the guys in the group – and liked it.

What’s GOOD:  it’s lower in calorie than regular hummus, that’s for sure. Tastes as good if not better than. You’re eating vegetables instead of beans . . .altogether deliciousness. Yes, I’ll make it again.

What’s NOT: maybe just the time it takes to make – you can buy ready made hummus inexpensively, but this tastes so much better.

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Roasted Zucchini Hummus

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from Keto Diet App
Serving Size: 10

3/4 pound zucchini
1/4 cup EVOO — divided use
sea salt — to taste
black pepper — to taste
1/4 cup tahini
2 medium garlic cloves
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice — or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons water — (2 to 3) optional
GARNISHES:
1 1/2 tablespoons EVOO
1/2 teaspoon both smoked paprika and cumin
2 teaspoons black sesame seeds (or white if that’s what you have)
fresh parsley leaves
SERVE: crackers, raw vegetables

NOTE: If eating lectin-free, peel and seed the zucchini before roasting.
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F, or 350°F (convection). Cut the ends off the zucchini, and quarter them.
2. Arrange on a baking sheet cut side up and drizzle with EVOO, using your hands to massage oil over all edges. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until browned on top. Do not overcook them as you do not want them to dry out.
3. To make the hummus, add all ingredients (including the remaining olive oil) except the water to a food processor and blend until smooth. Add the water if you think the mixture is too thick, using a tablespoon at a time. Taste for seasonings (lemon juice? salt?). Chill to allow flavors to meld.
4. To serve, pour into a flatter shaped bowl and use the tip of a teaspoon to create a whorl in the hummus. Drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with spices and seeds.
5. Serves 6-8 as a side served with crackers, fresh carrots and celery. Store in a sealed container in the fridge up to 5 days.
Per Serving: 108 Calories; 11g Fat (84.8% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 8mg Sodium.

Posted in Beef, on October 21st, 2019.

lazy_sunday_pot_roast

Remember? Brown food doesn’t look so great in a picture! But oh, this one’s worth the effort, and it doesn’t take much to make this pot roast dinner.

Even though I eat a somewhat restricted set of foods, there are lots of things I can make and enjoy. Last night I had a group of friends over for dinner and made this pot roast, a tabouli salad made with millet, Brussels sprouts with bacon, golden raisins and pomegranate seeds, a type of dip – called a hummus because of its texture – but made with zucchini, and then I made a strawberry black pepper refrigerator cake. The only thing I made that wasn’t on my diet was the dessert. But I had some anyway. Well, I suppose I’m not to have pot roast, either (too much fat) but I did.

I still subscribe to a bunch of blogs, and truly, as I scan through them I can often whiz right past because they have foods that I’m not supposed to eat on this anti-lectin, Gundry diet. I’m a sucker, though, for an interesting story, and this one was just so special. Written by John “Doc” Willoughby, I was hooked from the first words. If you’re interested, click HERE, to the full story. In a nutshell, Doc knew from when he was a child, that he loved his Grandmother’s pot roast, but he never knew much about what was in it. After his grandmother passed away, Doc inherited her collection of cookbooks and recipes. And then he found the old 3×5 card with the recipe on it. Since then, he’s made this pot roast countless times, and often for company, because he says it’s pretty foolproof, AND it’s easy.

The recipe, on the surface, looks kind of mundane. But oh, it’s not. He explains that he’s made it without the caraway seeds, and without the marjoram, and he says the finished product doesn’t measure up. So, those herbs/spices are essential to the result. First, buy a 4-pound chuck eye roast. Pat it dry with paper towels, salt and pepper it, then sear it in oil in a big, lidded Dutch oven type pan. Remove the meat, then sauté 2 onions, halved and sliced, then you add in the other ingredients – broth, brown sugar, the caraway seeds and marjoram (I used dried), some bay leaves, and some apple cider vinegar. The roast is nestled in there, and more broth is added if needed, to bring the liquid level up halfway on the roast (mine needed about another 3/4 cup of water). Into a 300°F oven it went (covered) and baked for 3 hours. I removed it and turned the roast twice. Then you add 3 Granny Smith (or similar type) apples, cored and peeled, then sliced and cut in 8ths, cover and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until the apples kind of puff up. A few of them fell apart in my pot, and some hardly seemed done, but they were.

The only kind-of-sort-of hard part was getting that 4-lb. roast out of the pot – it was hot and heavy and it fell apart. But oh well. It’s supposed to rest for 10-15 minutes before you serve it, so I put it out on the platter and covered it with foil while I wrestled with the good stuff left in the pot – the apples, onions and flavorful broth. It took a bit of doing – and my friend Judy helped me some – to remove some of the fat. I have a fat separator which helped, but the onions kept clogging up the sieve part. But we managed. The apples and onions went out onto the platter (see photo) and some of the broth swam all over the platter as well. The strained, somewhat de-fatted broth went into a pitcher to pass at the table.

What’s interesting is that none of us – me included – could taste the caraway or the marjoram. That was kind of astounding to me – I pride myself on being able to detect flavors. Couldn’t find it at all in this dish. With the list of ingredients, I’d guess this recipe has German origins (the caraway, apples and apple cider vinegar are the clues), but the marjoram makes me think France. But no matter, this dish comes together well. There’s a lot of liquid left over, so I’ll probably make some kind of soup with it – maybe with some of the left over pot roast cut into little cubes (if I can, as the meat is meltingly tender).

What’s GOOD: the flavor – oh my yes – so tasty. You can detect the sweet (brown sugar) and the apples impact a delectable flavor to the overall dish. It was perfectly tender, and I liked having a dish that offered the apples to serve alongside, with the very tender onions too. It was easy. The article actually suggested making it the day before up to the apple-adding step, then reheating it and baking for 15-20 minutes. I wasn’t so sure that was a good idea – so I made it the day of. Will I make this again? Absolutely, although probably not for myself. Only for company, I’d say. I’m sure you could make a smaller one – say a 2 1/2 pound roast, however.

What’s NOT: nothing really, except that you need to plan ahead several hours. But that’s not news to anyone who’s made a pot roast before. There were no complaints from anyone.

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Lazy Sunday Pot Roast

Recipe By: John “Doc” Willoughby, from his grandmother Schwyhart
Serving Size: 8

4 pounds boneless beef chuck eye roast Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons oil
2 medium onions — halved and thinly sliced
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup fresh marjoram — or 2 tablespoons dried
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups low sodium beef broth — or chicken stock (2 to 2 1/2)
3 Granny Smith apples — or other tart apples such as Cortlands or Baldwins, quartered, cored, and peeled

1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
2. Dry the roast well with paper towels, sprinkle it very generously with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or other large, ovenproof pot over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the roast and brown well on all sides—this should take at least 10 or 12 minutes—then remove to a platter and set aside.
3. Add the onions to the pot and saute, stirring frequently, until translucent, 7 to 9 minutes. Put the meat back in the pot, add the bay leaves, caraway seeds, brown sugar, marjoram, vinegar, and enough stock so that the liquid comes just halfway up the sides of the meat. Bring just to a simmer then cover, put in the preheated oven, and cook for 2-1/2 hours, turning over once or twice during this time.
4. Add the apples to the pot and continue to cook until the apples are soft and puffed up and the meat is very tender, about 15 minutes. To check the meat for doneness: Plunge a fork straight down into the meat and try to pull the fork out; if the fork slides out easily, the meat is done; if the meat hangs on to the fork, give it more time.
5. Remove meat, cover it loosely with foil, and let it rest for at least 10 minutes. Skim the fat from the braising liquid and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cut the meat into thick slices and serve, accompanied by the apples, onions and the braising liquid. Strain some of the broth, if possible, and pass it at the table.
Per Serving: 490 Calories; 20g Fat (35.7% calories from fat); 65g Protein; 15g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 184mg Cholesterol; 199mg Sodium.

Posted in Breads, lectin-free, on October 15th, 2019.

savory_chaffle_sandwich

That looks like a waffle. No. It’s a chaffle. The sandwich made with two chaffles and tuna salad in between.

Awhile back I know I mentioned that I’ve been craving a simple tuna sandwich. But I wanted it on regular white bread. But traditional white bread’s a no-no on my lectin-free diet. Enter my world – chaffles. The texture of these is nothing like regular waffles. These are soft and tender. And they don’t really have a lot of flavor, in and of themselves. But they offer me a way to have a sandwich without eating any flour. Over the last year I’ve tried other bread types, all gluten-free and grain free. I’ve been less than pleased with some of the almond-flour loaf-style breads I’ve tried, even though some contained yeast which I thought would produce a lighter kind of bread. Well, not in my book, they didn’t. Some keto dieters are just thrilled with breads made with almond and coconut flours. Not for me.

B078BS5B64Chaffles were invented by someone on a keto diet, and the early ones (I guess) were made with shredded mozzarella cheese and a kind of egg batter. But cooks more inventive than I am figured out a way to make them without cheese (although these above I did make with a tiny bit of cheese). They’re a cinch to make, as I explained a few weeks ago when I suggested you go look up the savory chaffle recipe. I’ve had them as a treat – as a waffle with a bit of butter and some lankanto maple syrup. Although I’ve eaten my share of waffles over my lifetime, they’re not something I crave. Using mozzarella cheese is the standard way to make these – because mozzie is so easy to melt and the cheese on both sides of the batter makes for a crispy outside. But if you’re eating the Dr. Gundry diet, regular cow’s milk is out (unless it’s A2 milk, which I do buy but nobody makes cheese from A2 milk, that I know about anyway) so I need to use sheep or goat cheese. So I used grated goat cheddar, and I used very little – I didn’t want the cheese to overpower the chaffle. I make mine in the Sur La Table Dash Mini Waffle Maker pictured at right. If you have a family, you can make these in a regular waffle iron – you don’t have to have this one.

chaffle_sandwich_topMy craving here was for a sandwich, and I’m happy as a clam to be able to enjoy a traditional sandwich now. Although I do have to make some chaffles first, in order to have a sandwich. On Saturday I made 4 of them, gave two to Sara and John who were here visiting. I’d made chili and they had the chaffle along with the chili. That’s why I made these with some cheese as I’d sprinkled cheese over the top of the chili. So the remaining 2 chaffles went into the freezer. A few days later and after 15 minutes of defrosting, they were ready to be made into a sandwich.

These chaffles CAN be cut in half horizontally, but I’ll just say that for me they’re not substantial enough to do that. I tried doing that a few weeks ago and just felt they were too flimsy. If you’re eating a fairly dry sandwich (like sliced roast turkey or beef or chicken with no added mayo) it might work. If you like a bit of mayo spread on the chaffle, though, it could ooze through the holes. If that doesn’t bother you, by all means slice them in half. If you use an extra-large egg, you might get enough of the batter for both chaffles to be a little thicker, and then you would be able to slice them in half. I use large eggs, and for me, maybe I’ll get one chaffle that’s thicker, the other that’s not.

What’s GOOD: well, for me, someone who hasn’t eaten a piece of regular bread in 18 months, these chaffles are a life saver! My craving for a tuna sandwich was assuaged, big time! You could have heard me say mmmmm. So happy! Occasionally I go to BJ’s (restaurant) and I order their turkey burger (without the bun). Next time I think I’ll take 2 of my chaffles with me and I CAN have a turkey burger with more than just wrapping in lettuce. Yea! Or I could order a beef burger if I’m feeling like a treat. When I make them, I make at least a double recipe, maybe more and put the extras in the freezer. They freeze beautifully.

What’s NOT: these are not waffles. If you’re expecting crunchy, crispy, these won’t satisfy, but then they’re not supposed to. They’re tender and soft – perfect for a soft sandwich style. Just know what you’re getting here . . . I have yet to venture into alien territory like adding bacon or onion, or to make them sweet. I’m loving the savory side.

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Sandwich Bread Chaffles

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from Two Sleevers blog
Serving Size: 2

1 large egg
2 tablespoon almond flour
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon water
3 tablespoons grated cheese — Mozzarella, cheddar, goat cheddar (optional)
garlic powder or dried herbs (optional)

1. In a bowl thoroughly mix the egg so no streaks are visible.
2. Add almond flour (no lumps), mayo, baking powder and water. Add garlic powder or dried herbs if using (I usually don’t).
3. Heat up waffle iron. If making these without cheese, it’s advisable to spray both top and bottom with olive oil spray or coconut oil spray, then pour 1/4 cup to make one chaffle. IF you desire the cheese, once waffle iron is hot, sprinkle a bit of the grated cheese on the waffle grate, pour in the batter, then top with a bit more cheese. Close lid. Cook these a bit longer than usual – about an extra minute. Use a fork to remove from the waffle iron and place on a rack to cool slightly. Allow waffle iron to reheat before making more. Can be eaten immediately, or cool, package and freeze.
4. Makes 2 chaffles, and you can cut them in half horizontally, to use as a sandwich, although they will be very thin.
Per Serving: 164 Calories; 13g Fat (71.3% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; 0g Dietary Fiber; 120mg Cholesterol; 171mg Sodium.

Posted in Cookies, Desserts, Gundry-friendly, on October 6th, 2019.

gf_almond_brownies

Decadent tasting, full of chocolate, chocolate chips and chopped almonds. AND gluten free.

Last week I had a new friend come to visit for a few hours. She’s a Type 1 diabetic (like my DH was) and she does her best to avoid carbs. I introduced her to chaffles (you can google it – it’s quite a phenom in the low carb world). My chaffle is not really one made with cheese (that what the ch means in the name, the affle means it’s made in a little Sur La Table Dash Mini Waffle Maker waffle iron which makes one waffle round). Mine was made of egg and a tetch of almond flour, a tablespoon of mayo, baking powder and water. I doubt many of you would be interested in any of this, but they make a great substitute for bread. Put two together and you have a sandwich. If you’re interested in the recipe, click that link.

Anyway, when I pulled out my bag of Costco’s Kirkland almond flour to demonstrate how easy it is to make a sandwich chaffle, my friend Vicki asked if I’d tried the almond brownie recipe on the back of the bag. Nope, had not. But it got my taste buds hankering for brownies.

Daughter Sara and her husband were here this weekend so I had a reason to make these brownies. I did use Hershey’s cocoa powder extra dark – so the resulting brownies were really dark/black. Regular cocoa powder might not make them so dark colored. Me? I’m all into the intense flavor. But, if I’d made them for myself, I’d have eaten them all – myself. Not good. Even though they’re GF, and not too high in fat, they’re still calories. As I’m writing this, there are just 4 left. Maybe I’ll freeze them so I can dole them out to myself slowly. We’ll see how THAT goes! I cut them into small squares – I think I got more than 16 out of the 8×8 pan. But you can cut them any size you want.

Because I loved them. And I know my cousin Gary, who loves carbs and chocolate, but is GF, will love these too. He’s not much of a baker, so I’ll make a batch for him when he comes to visit next month. I mixed these up in a bowl with my hand mixer and they baked for about 30+ minutes. Once cooled, these were still quite wet/sticky, but by this morning they were perfect for picking up in hand and didn’t fall apart. I forgot to put more almonds on top. Made no never-mind in the end. These are delicious. I did use some sugar (not supposed to have any sugar, but I used half and half with artificial sugar). I think next time I’ll use a little less sugar and Swerve – I think they’re quite sweet.

What’s GOOD: the intense chocolate flavor. Love that I can have a brownie recipe that satisfies my desire for something brownie-like. The longer I’m on a no-flour diet, I realize how much white flour is used in everyday cooking, and how incredibly versatile it is. AND how important it is to making baked goods have the texture they do. Can’t get that with any of the substitute flours out there. Anyway, I loved these and will most definitely be making them again.

What’s NOT: nothing really – you do need almond flour. Trader Joe’s brand does have the skins in with the flour in their bag (which I can’t have on this diet – lectins live in the skins of almonds, amongst hundreds of other places in various foods). Kirkland’s is ground up blanched almonds. That’s what I buy now and keep it in the freezer to store it so it stays fresher, longer. What these don’t have if a ton of chewiness – they’re quite tender and soft. You won’t get chew from almond flour, I guess.

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Almond Brownies

Recipe By: adapted slightly from Kirkland brand almond flour package
Serving Size: 16

2 tablespoons butter — softened
1/4 cup Swerve — or other artificial sweetener
1/4 cup sugar — or use all artificial
1 egg
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk — or whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup almond flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup almonds — chopped
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
More almonds for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Cream together butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl. Blend in egg. Blend in almond milk and vanilla.
3. In another bowl, whisk together almond flour, cocoa powder, sea salt and baking powder. Add to butter mixture and blend just until mixed. Stir in chopped almonds and chocolate chips.
4. Coat an 8 X 8 baking pan with non-sticking cooking spray. Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving. They’re better if allowed to cool well (like overnight). Right out of the oven they may be quite wet and sticky, hard to hold together.
5. Garnish with more chopped almonds or with sliced almonds, toasted. Goes well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Per Serving: 98 Calories; 6g Fat (42.3% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 17mg Cholesterol; 66mg Sodium.

Posted in Travel, on September 21st, 2019.

IMG_0481

From  the road trip last month with daughter Sara and grandson John. That’s in Scottsdale. Cute the way they light up the town streets.

Remember, road trip to Virginia, then South Carolina. This was our first night, and you may recall I wrote earlier, in Scottsdale it was 114 at 7pm. We had a very un-memorable meal there, then headed towards Santa Fe. We drove through some of the Arizona and New Mexico Indian reservations on our route, arriving in Santa Fe just before dinner. Had a fabulous dinner at Arroyo Vino, a restaurant a few miles out of town. The daughter of good friends of mine live there, and Tracey’s husband David is the sommelier at the restaurant and also runs the wine store that’s located in the restaurant. Had a wonderful dinner, and enjoyed visiting with them.

Sara had never been to Santa Fe (it’s one of my favorite towns) so she and I spent the next morning walking the cute streets in and around the plaza. The town was holding one of its frequent marketplace fairs that day, all about the Native American arts and crafts, clothing, pottery, etc. I bought an adorable (and very expensive) teeny, tiny(max 2 1/2” high) hand-painted pot with one of the typical Indian designs on it. And I purchased a bright red wool felt tote bag (or purse) made in Taos. The old tote bag I’d taken on the trip gave out and the strap broke, so I had a reason to buy a new bag to hold some of the stuff that wouldn’t fit into my suitcase. Young John wasn’t at all interested in walking the streets of Santa Fe (sigh, oh well) so he stayed at the hotel and read or slept while Sara and I shopped. There is a cute and tiny Christmas store on one of the side streets of Santa Fe, and I bought a Christmas pin (NOT made in China) in red.

IMG_0498IMG_0499Then we were off for more road trip. One of the fun goals on the trip was to try to see a few of the visual inspirations for the movie, Cars. They’re dotted all along Route 66 (now Interstate 40). We stopped in Shamrock, Texas (after we’d spent the night in Amarillo, also un-memorable, sorry to say) where the filling station is a kind of tourist landmark. It was a Sunday, so the station wasn’t open (it is a tourist attraction, not a gas station anymore) but we took pictures and used the very old-time bathroom tucked into it, which was open. Parked alongside the station is Mater, the tow truck that plays a prominent part in the movie. We also saw the Cadillacs stuck in the ground, nose first.

graceland_frontAfter a night in Fort Smith, Arkansas, we high-tailed it to Memphis. We planned to get there in the mid to late afternoon and had reservations for the Graceland Mansion (Elvis Presley) tour at 4:00 pm. It was actually lovely. Circa 1977, when Presley died. I won’t bore you with all the pictures I took inside – it was all nicely done, including the harvest gold refrigerator and avocado green kitchen sink. We laughed about that. Grandson John found us a barbecue place for dinner (the place I’d picked out was closed that night) as another goal was to enjoy Memphis dry-rub barbecue. I was the winner that evening with what I ordered as we ate at Central BBQ, just south of downtown Memphis. We got there early and had to wait in line, and then they bring your food to the table. OMGosh. The – THE – best dry rub barbecue I’ve ever had. Now, I ordered pork ribs – Sara had brisket and John had pork sliders. But mine was the best of them all. They sell their special combo rub (Sara bought one) but I didn’t as my suitcase and tote bag were already mighty full. I’d go back there in a flash if I could.

IMG_0515Since we finished dinner early, we decided to drive into downtown Memphis, and on the spur of the moment, decided to park and go visit The Peabody, the eponymous old hotel that is most famous for their little family of ducks (Mallards?) that are ushered into the hotel every morning to spend the day in the large indoor fountain (which is underneath the flower arrangement you see in the photo, left center), and then ushered out in the late afternoon. It’s quite a tourist attraction, though we didn’t get to see them as we were there in the late evening. We sat in the gorgeous lobby (stunning) near the big grand piano (and part of the time a skilled pianist was tickling the ivories) and had fancy coffee and shared a dessert. If I ever go back to Memphis – I’ll be staying there.

The following day we were up early-early as we did a marathon driving day of about 11 hours to get to Blacksburg, Virginia. We encountered rain here and there across the states, although hot rain, of course. I’ve already written up about taking John to Virginia Tech (report is that he really likes his classes and is enjoying his roommates a lot) and delivering the Toyota to Sabrina at Clemson, in South Carolina. And about the one night at the Biltmore. I’ll close with one of the photos from there. I just love that place. Sara does too. We stayed at the Inn on the Biltmore grounds and actually didn’t tour the mansion this time. We visited the gorgeous gardens, though and enjoyed some tea in the lounge. At that point we were enjoying just sitting to relax.

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