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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.

One of my book clubs occasionally reads a kind of edgy book. This is one of them. By Mohsin Hamid, Exit West: A Novel is a book set in an age not dissimilar to our own and in current time, but something bad has happened in the world. Something never divulged, although symptoms of a civil war are mentioned. A unmarried couple, Nadia and Saeed, are given the opportunity (as others are, as well) to go through a door (this is the exit part of the title) and to another place in the world – it takes but a second – to go through the special door. They go to England (London), to a palatial mansion. Sometimes the power grid is sketchy. Another door. And yet another. And finally to Marin County (north of San Francisco). You follow along with the ups and downs of the chaste relationship of the two, this couple from a house to living on the streets. And the eventual dissolution of the relationship too. I wasn’t enamored with the book, but after listening to the review of it and hearing others talk about it, I suppose there’s more to this story than it might appear. Hope is the word that comes to mind. The book is strange, but it won the Los Angeles Times book award in 2017. It’s received lots of press. It made for some very interesting discussion at our book club meeting.

The Last Letter from Your Lover: A Novel by JoJo Moyes. Story: Jennifer Stirling wakes up in hospital, having had a traumatic car accident. She’s introduced to her husband, of whom she has no recollection, and is sent home with him eventually, to a life she neither remembers or embraces readily. But this is the life she was raised to have, so surely it must be worth living, underneath the strange, muted tones of her daily existence. Jennifer goes through the motions, accepts what she is told is her life and all seems to bob along well enough, except when she finds a letter that isn’t her husband’s handwriting, and is clearly a link to someone she has been involved with, but whom? London, France, Africa and America all come into play in this story of a woman piecing back together her life in effort to understand what she has lost, and what she threw away. There is a bit of a time-hop from 1964 to 2003. . . from a reviewer on amazon.  I loved this book from page one to the end. There’s some bit of mystery and you so get into the head of Jennifer Stirling. I could hardly put it down. Great read.

Francine Rivers, an author relatively new to me, but much admired, is most known for this: Mark of the Lion : A Voice in the Wind, An Echo in the Darkness, As Sure As the Dawn (Vol 1-3) It’s a trilogy. The first 2 books are about Hadassah, a young woman in the time of the Roman Empire. When Jerusalem was overrun and destroyed, the Christians still alive were sent off and away, separated and derided and abused. Hadassah was one of them. She’s a slave to a wealthy family and it takes 2 of the books to read before the son of the family finally realizes that he’s in love with Hadassah. If  you’re a Christian, you’ll learn a whole lot more about the time following Christ’s crucifixion, about the lot of the struggling Christian community. The 3rd book in the trilogy is about a gladiator who is part of book 1 and 2, but not a main character. You’ll learn about his life too, after he regains his freedom from the fighting ring and the battle of his soul. These books are a fabulous read. Can’t say enough good things about them all. I’ve never been a huge fan of old-world Roman Empire reading, but this one was altogether different. Very worth reading.

Amy Belding Brown wrote this book: Flight of the Sparrow: A Novel of Early America, a true accounting in 1676, of Mary Rowlandson, a woman who was captured by Native Americans.  Even before she was captured on a winter day of violence and terror, she sometimes found herself in conflict with her rigid Puritan community. Now, her home destroyed, her children lost to her, she has been sold into the service of a powerful woman tribal leader, made a pawn in the ongoing bloody struggle between English settlers and native people. Battling cold, hunger, and exhaustion, Mary witnesses harrowing brutality but also unexpected kindness. To her confused surprise, she is drawn to her captors’ open and straightforward way of life, a feeling further complicated by her attraction to a generous, protective English-speaking native known as James Printer. The story is riveting, and perplexing once she is traded back to her home. You’ll see a different side to the Indian problem back then and find yourself conflicted. An excellent read.

Taylor Caldwell was a prolific writer, and one I read when I was younger. She died in 1980, and this book, her last, Answer As a Man certainly delivers as her others did. All his life, Jason Garrity has had to battle intolerance and injustice in his quest for power, money, and love. His new hotel will give him financial security, the means to support a loving family and become an upstanding citizen. When family secrets and financial greed combine to destroy his dreams, his rigid moral convictions are suddenly brought into question. . . from Goodreads. Caldwell believed the banking industry was way too powerful, and often took aim at it, as she did in this book. It chronicles the life of a very poor, impoverished Irish immigrant to the U.S. He was an upstanding citizen, God-fearing, but maybe naive in some respects. Good book if you enjoy very deep character study.

Another book by Diney Costeloe, Miss Mary’s Daughter. When a young women is suddenly left with no family and no job or income, she’s astounded to learn that she’s actually a granddaughter of a “grand” family in Ye Olde England. She’s very independent (at least I thought so, for the time period), but is willing to investigate this new family of hers. There are many twists and turns – is she going to inherit the family home – or is the man who has been caring for the home and his daughter the logical inheritors. There’s a villain who nearly sweeps her off her feet, much intrigue from many characters. Well developed plot with a happy ending. A good read.

Celeste Ng is a hot new author. I read another of her books (see below) but this time I read Little Fires Everywhere. There are so many various characters and plots in this book, as in her others. This book focuses on a Chinese baby abandoned at a fire station and the subsequent court battle when the single mother surfaces six months later to try to reclaim her daughter from the family in the process of adopting her. Emotions well up, waxing and waning on both sides of the issue. You may even find yourself changing your own mind about the right or wrong of a child raised with a natural-born mother (albeit late to the raising) or the mother the child has known since near birth. Ng likes to write books with lots of grit and thorny issues. Although a good read, I liked Everything I Never Told You better than this one.

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright. Oh my. This book has so many layers: (1) the young, impoverished couple and their infant son who live, literally, in a dump in Cambodia and about the precarious structure, if you can even call it that, that comprises their “house” in the midst and perched on top of trash; (2) the woman who collects the rent (hence the title and yes, people have to PAY to live there); (3) the young son’s chronic illness; (4) how they make a living out of collecting and selling trash; and (4) the life saving grace and wisdom imparted by characters in the book as the young mother begins to learn to read. If you decide to read this book, please don’t stop at about page 15-20, thinking you just don’t know if you want to read about this. Please continue. It’s so worth it. Have a highlighter pen in your hand because you’ll find so many quotes you will want to remember. Believe it or not, there is also quite a bit in this about literature.

Recently finished C.J. Box’s book The Disappeared (A Joe Pickett Novel). I just love Box’s novels. They take place in present day semi-wild west, and chronicle the fish and game warden, Joe Pickett, as he unravels another crime in his territory. A woman has disappeared, and the governor has asked him to figure it out. He does, but the tale meanders through multiple layers of intriguing story. His books are riveting. Men and women enjoy his books – so if you have a fellow in your life or family that would enjoy an intriguing book (this is not espionage) then gift him one of Box’s books.

Also finished Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. About a dysfunctional family, through and through. I picked this up from amazon from someone who read the book, named “McReader,” and she says: “Set in the 70s, the story follows a Chinese American blended family in Ohio. When Lydia [the daughter] is found floating in the lake, her family is forced to analyze what put her there. Was it pressure from her family to succeed? Was it pressure to fit in? Was it a crime of passion or convenience? I was spellbound reading the last half of this book. I loved each flawed family member, especially Hannah,. While the story went where I hoped it would go, I was not disappointed at all with the progression. It was also quite insightful on the prejudices that society had about Chinese Americans still during that timeframe and how careful parents have to be to put their dreams onto their children.” Such a good book and definitely worth reading. Would be a good book club read. You’ll be hearing more from this author. Am currently reading her next novel, Little Fires Everywhere.

The Boston Girl: A Novel by Anita Diamant. A very, very intriguing book. The book is written from the voice of a Jewish grandmother as she tells her granddaughter the saga of her life starting about 1910, who struggles with her own individuality, with her domineering mother who never says a kind word to her. It’s certainly a coming-of-age story as she grows up, finds a job, makes friends, joins a literary girls club, moves out, but still suffers under her mother’s thumb and tongue. She becomes a reporter on a local newspaper, which opens her eyes to more of the world than she ever knew. She finally meets the right man (of course!) and she shares the stories about her life, and her friends and family members as she grows up, giving some sage advice along the way. Part of the time she’s talking to herself – to her young self  (really wanting to tell young Addie to keep on, forgive herself for her perceived transgressions, to live life, and experience the world).

One of the best books I’ve read in a long time – Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. Rivers is a prodigious writer of Christian fiction, and I’d never read anything by her until now. As I write this, I’ve already read this, another one (below) and just purchased the Kindle trilogy called Mark of the Lion (Vol 1-3) that I haven’t yet started. (Two of my friends have said the trilogy is her best.) Redeeming Love details the fictional story of a godly man, Michael Hosea, forging his way in the era of the Gold Rush. He’s “driven” to rescue a beautiful prostitute who lives and works her trade in a nearby town. The entire book is about the story, the rescue, and it parallels a bit of scripture about Hosea who rescues a prostitute names Gomer. You get into the heads of both Hosea and the prostitute, named Angel. We read this for one of my book groups. A great read.

As soon as I finished the above book I promptly visited my church library and found a whole shelf of Rivers’ books, and grabbed one called The Atonement Child. This book takes place in the 1980s or 90s, about a young college student who is raped. She was engaged to be married, was a stellar student. The book chronicles what happens to her when she discovers she is pregnant from the rape. Every possible thing goes wrong in her life. I don’t want to spoil the story if you’re interested in reading it, but I couldn’t put it down. I ended up spending a good part of a day plowing through it. You hear her inner voice (I’m guessing this is a common thread in Rivers’ books) from a Christian perspective. Lots of meaty issues to discuss in a book club if your group would be interested and willing to talk about rape, abortion, adoption and the thorny issues surrounding all of those things, but with a Christian bent, for sure.

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen. It’s kind of amazing how many and varied plot lines can be created from events of WWII. This is another one, about a current day woman who finds papers in the attic, after her father’s death, with references to “the child.” She never knew her father could have had another child – could she have a step-sibling somewhere? Her father she knew, had been shot down over Italy, but he never talked much about it. But of course, she must go to Italy to find out about this “child.” The book flips back and forth from this daughter on the search, to her father during the war, all of it taking place in a very small town in Tuscany. It’s about the varied people she meets who want her to go away and not dredge up anything about the war years (are they hiding something, you question), about how much she loves the landscape, and some of the people. And about the intense love affair between the injured pilot and a caring woman of the village. Very charming story. I could almost smell the flowers, taste the olives, hear the bees flitting, and loved the prose about the simple meals that were described. I really enjoyed the book. Perhaps not enough meat for a book club read, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy reading it nonetheless.

Leaving Blythe River: A Novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Almost a page turner. When one uses the phrase “coming of age,” it usually means (I think) love and loss/boyfriend/girlfriend, and in this case it’s somewhat that way. When Ethan, a 17-year old boy and his mother come home unexpectedly to find dad and his young secretary in a compromising position, all hell breaks loose. Separation happens instantly and just as his father moves out, his mother has to go take care of her aging mother. Ethan’s too young to be left in the NYC apartment alone, so Mom sends son to the father who is escaping from the world in Wyoming, living in a primitive A-frame house, and continuing his daily 20+ mile running journeys. Ethan and his father are barely speaking. They live in the middle of nowhere. Ethan feels betrayed by his father in every possible way, and somewhat by his mother for forcing him to live with his father for a temporary period. Then his father doesn’t return one day from his run. The authorities do a cursory search, but they are under the impression the dad wants to “get lost” on purpose. Ethan, although he thinks he doesn’t care, really does. What happens next is best left to you reading this book. Very interesting people (kind of loners) enter the picture and off they go to search. So worth reading.

The Girl With No Name by Diney Costelhoe. What a good book. Perhaps you’ve read before about the huge numbers of German refugee children who were sent to England before Hitler closed down any exits. This is a novel about one particular young girl, who is devastated when her mother puts her on one of the boats. She ends up in London, in an orphanage kind of place, and is eventually placed with a childless couple. She speaks no English. They speak no German, but they manage soon enough. Lisa (who eventually becomes Charlotte) is so homesick. She’s bullied at school, because most people and children don’t want any Germans there. A boy steps up to protect her, and as she grows up, she’s attracted to him. She shouldn’t be – he’s also German and from her own home town. He’s not a good match for her. You live with her through the blitz during all those war years and during one attack, she’s badly injured and loses her memory (and no ID on her). Through a series of mishaps she ends up in a village far from London, with a spinster woman who does eventually come to love her very much – they name her Charlotte and Charlotte she becomes. She goes to school there, still longing, though, for her mother and brother and her London foster family too. Then when she’s 16 she returns to London to help at the orphanage where she was originally placed and tries to find her foster parents. The story goes on from there, with the boy/man who “wants” her, the bad boy, and a good boy/man she befriends in the village in the country. Eventually she regains her memory. SUCH a good read.

The Girl with Seven Names by Hyanseo Lee. If you, like me, know little about North Korea and how it came to be what it is today, you’ve got to read this book. It’s a memoir written by a young woman who escaped from North Korea about 9 years ago. Her journey – and I mean JOURNEY – is harrowing, frightening, amazing, heart-rendering all at the same time. She chronicles the lives of the Kims (Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il to current Kim Jong Un), shares the strict propaganda that surrounds every North Korean citizen, the poverty and hunger, as well as the underground black market for food and goods. It took her awhile to get from North Korea, to China and eventually to South Korea, where she currently lives. She’s well educated and speaks English quite well. She was invited to be a speaker at a TED talk – you know about those, right? TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a media organization which posts talks online for free distribution, under the slogan “ideas worth spreading.” I listen to them as  podcasts now and then. Always very educational, if sometimes over my head when it gets very technical. She works diligently for human rights now, doing her best to help other North Koreans escape. You owe it to yourself to read this book.

Also just finished reading The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian. Another WOW book. I’ve always liked the author – many years ago I read his book, Midwives and really liked it. Don’t confuse this book with the one I recently read, The Last Midwife: A Novel by Sandra Dallas that I reviewed recently. I think we read it in one of my book groups. He’s a brilliant writer, and this one has a lot of characters and twists. It’s a novel, but based on a lot of truth regarding the Armenian genocide. Most of the book takes place in Aleppo, Syria with some good Samaritan folk trying to help rescue people (mostly children) following the forced long marches the Turks made prodding the Turkish Armenians to exit their country. But it also jumps to near present day as a family member is trying to piece together obscure parts of her grandparents’ former lives there. She uncovers some hidden truths (many survivors of the genocide never-ever-ever wanted to talk about it) and a bit more about her Armenian heritage. A riveting book – I could hardly put it down. Lots to discuss for a book club read. I simply must read more of Bohjalian’s books (he’s written many).

The Good Widow: A Novel by Lisa Steinke. All I can say is “wow.” In a general sense, this book is based on the premise of The Pilot’s Wife. But this one has some totally different twists and turns. A young wife is met at the door by police, informing her that her husband has died in an auto accident. Then she finds out he died in Hawaii – not Kansas, where she thought he was, on business. Then she finds out there was a woman in the car. Then she meets the fiance of the woman passenger and the two of them embark on a fact-finding mission in Hawaii to discover the truth. Well, I’m just sayin’ . . . the plot thickens. And thickens. And thickens clear up to the last few pages. Hang onto your seat. A really, really good, suspenseful read.

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes. What a WONDERFUL book. It opens up a shameful part of America’s past, but one you might not have heard about before this. In the late 1800s thousands of Chinese workers were brought to the West Coast to help with a variety of construction projects and a myriad of other things where laborers were needed. Many settled, married and made a new life for themselves. But suddenly the white population didn’t want them here anymore and they summarily ordered them ALL out of our country. This book chronicles a young Chinese girl, who was on a ship that was supposed to take her family to China, but the ship’s captain decided en route to dump them all overboard, to drown. The girl’s father knew it was going to happen and in order to save her, he threw his daughter off the ship as they were passing Orcas Island (in the San Juan Islands west of Seattle). She was saved. The book switches from that time to current time as a woman is rebuilding her family’s home on Orcas and finds a beautifully embroidered silk Chinese robe sleeve hidden under a stair step. The book is about that sordid past and the young girl’s descendents, and about the woman who is rebuilding. Stunner of a novel. Good for a book club read, I think. It has a reader’s guide at the back with good questions for book groups.

How It All Began: A Novel by Penelope Lively. I find it hard to describe this book – it’s wonderful. I loved it. But describing it is perplexing. The title relates to one of the characters, a woman of a certain age, who is mugged, and has to go live with her daughter and son in law for awhile since she’s stuck with crutches and has mobility problems. That starts the cavalcade of events that spread around her, with the characters. And she knows nothing whatsoever about them, hardly. They’re all somewhat inter-related (not much family, but mostly by circumstance) and they all get into some rather logical and some peculiar relationships. You engage  with each and every one of them; at least I sure did; and was trying to tell some of them to back away from what they were about to do. Or “be careful;” or “don’t go there.” That kind of thing. There is nothing insidious, no mystery involved – it’s all about these people and what happens to them. I was sad when the book was finished. The author, Lively, does add a chapter at the end – I wonder if it wasn’t part of the master plan – that kind of tidies up everything, and you get to see all of the characters move on with their lives, happy or not, but mostly happy. Really enjoyed the book. Am not sure it would be a good book club read, as the only thing to discuss are the characters themselves. Lively paints these characters well; you can just picture them as they get themselves in and out of relationship mischief.

 

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 Desserts, on October 19th, 2018.

10_minute_lime_cracker_pie

When I read this recipe, I knew I’d be making it soon. A 10-minute dessert? Yes, I’m in.

My evening bible study group has started up again after taking a hiatus for the summer. We kind of abide by the traditional Sept-June school year rotation. I ended up hosting the first two weeks and now we’re trading off amongst all of our homes. So I needed dessert. The first week I made a peach cobbler. An old recipe from my mother’s 3×5 card file. But I didn’t like it that much, so am not posting it here. But the second week I’d read about this lime cracker pie at Food 52 and just knew it’d be something I’d try.

lime_cracker_pie_ingredientsThe old-fashioned dessert that uses lemon juice and sweetened condensed milk in a graham cracker crust is updated here using lime juice instead, and layering the rich, creamy mixture with Ritz crackers. I used Trader Joe’s version called Golden Rounds. There at left you can see the ingredients. My limes were big enough that I only used 5, I think it was, to yield 1/2 cup of juice.

First, get out the ceramic or glass dish you’ll use. A 9×9 pan isn’t big enough, so use a ceramic dish larger than that. Meanwhile, you use a big bowl to combine the Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (not evaporated milk – recipe won’t work with that) and 2 cups of heavy cream. Mix that up with a whisk for a few stirs, then you add in the lime juice and zest. Stir some more and within about 45 seconds the mixture begins to thicken. The lime juice causes a reaction somehow (I don’t know the actual chemistry of it) and it becomes a pudding-like texture.

assembling_lime_cracker_pieScoop out about a cup of the cream into the dish, spread it around, then gently add the crackers all over. See my photo at right. That’s one layer. Just keep layering. (If I did this again, I’d use a smaller dish than the one you see here – it was just slightly too big, in my opinion – it is 11 inches long). End up with a layer of cream on the top.

lime_cracker_pie_completeMAKE AHEAD: This dessert needs at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight refrigeration. What happens is the cream is absorbed into the crackers and it creates a kind-of cake layer. Not exactly, but close. The only thing to do before serving is to grate a bit more lime zest on top. It doesn’t need any other embellishments.

What’s GOOD: well, 10 minutes to make it? It might have taken me 15, but oh my, so easy. The flavor is piquant – the acid from the lime juice mixes with the sweet of the condensed milk. Sublime. Oh, pun there! I ate about 4 bites (quality control, you know) and sent all the rest of it home with my friends so I wouldn’t be tempted.

What’s NOT: it’s very rich. Full of fat, obviously. High calorie. But oh-so easy!

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Ten-Minute Lime Cracker Pie

Recipe By: J. Kenji López-Alt, at Food52
Serving Size: 10

2 cans sweetened condensed milk — 14-ounce/396ml cans
2 cups heavy cream — (470g)
1 tablespoon lime zest — finely grated, plus more for serving
1/2 cup lime juice — (120g) freshly squeezed
10 ounces Ritz crackers — (285g) from about 3 sleeves

1. Whisk together the condensed milk and heavy cream in a large bowl until combined. Add the lime zest and juice and whisk until thickened, about 1 minute.
2. Spread 1 cup (240ml) of the condensed milk mixture on the bottom of a deep-dish pie plate, an 10-inch (28cm) oval casserole, or a similar large shallow dish. Top with a single layer of Ritz crackers. Repeat, alternating layers of filling and crackers, until the dish is full, finishing with a layer of filling. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight—the longer you wait, the more the crackers will soften and meld with the filling. Serve cold, zesting more fresh lime over the top, if you like.
Per Serving: 504 Calories; 30g Fat (51.9% calories from fat); 8g Protein; 54g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 86mg Cholesterol; 346mg Sodium.

Posted in lectin-free, Soups, on October 15th, 2018.

cauliflower_parsnip_soup

You might be of the school of thought that there isn’t any way to make cauliflower edible. This soup might change your mind. Mostly because it’s the parsnips you taste!

In my repertoire of cookbooks (hundreds) I have one book that sits out on a stand in my kitchen. Why that one? Only because I like the cover colors and it fits well on the stand. Not exactly the most admirable of reasons. Yet I like the cookbook – I just don’t visit its pages very often. The other day I noticed that when I’d read through the book I’d put pink stickies on recipes I thought I’d like to make. There are about 10 of them. And this soup was one.

The book, Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes: A Backyard Garden-to-Table Cookbook by Jeanne Kelley, is a treasure trove of relatively simple recipes, done beautifully with photographs and some lovely type fonts (you forget? I love type fonts). As it happened I had both a head of cauliflower AND about a pound of parsnips in my refrigerator. Yes, also I had an onion and a bay leaf. Gee, this soup was easy to make.

An onion was sweated in EVOO, then the parsnips (peeled, chopped) were added, as well as the chunks of cauliflower; 8 cups of water (I used vegetable broth) and a bay leaf and it simmered for about 35 minutes. Once it cooled a little bit I used my new immersion blender and whizzed it up easily enough. I added a little jot of salt. Since it was a hot day when I made this last month, I decided to eat it cold, although Kelley only mentioned serving as a hot soup. I left the pot out on my stove for 2-3 hours while it cooled down, then refrigerated it until dinnertime.

As an aside, I was watching a recent Cook’s Country episode on TV, and they did a test of immersion blenders. Mine is old. And I mean old (at least 35 years) – one of the very earliest models and I’ve never felt it did a very good job, so I splurged and bought a new one. Braun MQ505 Multiquick Hand Blender, Black. Braun makes several models, but this one, the cheapest ($59.95 on amazon) won their kitchen testing. I’ve used it twice in 3 days and am very pleased with it.

The topping called for currants. I didn’t have any, and on my diet I’m not supposed to eat dried fruit, but dates are okay. So I subbed dates for the currants. My kitchen garden has fresh thyme, and I easily toasted up a bunch of pine nuts in a skillet. The author cautions about that – how many times have you burned pine nuts in the oven? Way too many for me, so I, like her, toast mine in a skillet always. At the end you drizzle on a little bit of EVOO. The soup was filling and very tasty.

What’s GOOD: love the flavor – it’s the parsnips that predominate (adding a lovely sweetness), although the cauliflower adds plenty of texture. The garnish made the soup for me – the little crunch of the pine nuts, the thyme adding flavor, and then the minced up dates. Altogether delicious. Next time I’ll make a double batch and freeze some. The recipe makes enough for 4-5 generous dinner-sized portions.

What’s NOT: gee, nothing. Very easy soup to make.

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Cauliflower and Parsnip Soup with Currant and Pine Nut Garnish

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes
Serving Size: 6

SOUP:
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 large onion — chopped
1 pound parsnips — peeled, chopped
1 head cauliflower — roughly chopped
6 cups water — (or vegetable stock)
1 whole bay leaf
salt to taste
GARNISH:
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup currants — or raisins or dates
1 tablespoon fresh thyme — chopped
1 tablespoon EVOO — to drizzle on top

1. SOUP: Heat oil in heavy pan over medium heat. Add onion, cover and cook until onion is tender and just beginning to turn golden, about 8 minutes. Add cauliflower, parsnips, bay leaf and water (I used vegetable broth). Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat until vegetables are tender, about 30-40 minutes.
2. Cool slightly and remove bay leaf. Using an immersion or standard blender, puree soup (in batches if necessary) until smooth. Season with salt to taste. Can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated. Reheat to serve. (May also be served cold.)
3. GARNISH: Toast pine nuts in dry skillet until golden brown. Mix pine nuts in a bowl with currants, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Serve in bowls with about a tablespoon of the garnish on each bowl of soup then drizzle with olive oil.
Per Serving: 201 Calories; 13g Fat (54.1% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 20mg Sodium.

Posted in Chicken, Miscellaneous, on October 11th, 2018.

chakalaka_relish

A lovely relish (or kind of like a salsa) to serve with grilled meat.

Presuming you read my post from yesterday, about the BBQ Chicken, South African Style, then you already know this relish is supposed to be served with that chicken. It came from a cooking show with Sarah Graham, who’s from South Africa. This side/relish is just so different – when I watched the show a couple of years ago I was intrigued with the ingredients . . .

It has some very standard things you’d expect in a relish – onion, a chile pepper, a bell pepper, garlic, even tomatoes. But a bit more unusual is a bunch of grated carrots, some chutney (I used apricot jam), a jot of ketchup. But this one also has a little bit of curry powder (but not really enough to taste it), AND it has a small can of BAKED BEANS in it.

Here’s what wikipedia has to say about it:

Chakalaka is a South African vegetable relish, usually spicy, that is traditionally served with bread, pap, samp, stews, or curries. Chakalaka may have originated in the townships of Johannesburg or on the gold mines surrounding Johannesburg, when Mozambican mineworkers coming off shift cooked tinned produce (tomatoes, beans) with chili to produce a spicy relish with a Portuguese flair to accompany pap. The many variations on how to make Chakalaka often depend on region and family tradition. Some versions include beans, cabbage and butternut. For example, a tin of baked beans, tin of tomatoes, onion, garlic, and some curry paste can be used to make the dish.

In case you’re interested, pap is a kind of cornmeal porridge, and samp is another kind of dried corn variant where the corn kernel shells are removed and then the inner meat made into a porridge type dish. Reading about the history of this dish, it makes so much sense that mine workers had to use canned foods and they discovered a way to make a spicy relish/side from canned tomatoes and baked beans.

The onion, chile, bell pepper and carrots are cooked a little bit (I cooked them VERY little as I wanted crunch) with the onions getting the most amount of cooking time, then you merely add in all the other ingredients. Since I made it I’ve had it alongside the leftover chicken, also some grilled sausages, and some fish. All good with it. I made part of mine without the beans (cuz I’m not eating beans on this diet I’m on), but I DID taste it, and thought the addition of the beans was really good. I was expecting it to not taste good, but it was. I gave away all of the bean relish and kept the part without beans and enjoyed it for a week or so afterwards.

What’s GOOD: it’s unusual, that’s for sure. Liked all the lively flavors in it – because I was having guests I used the lesser quantity of curry powder – I’d likely add more next time. Make ahead is fine, and it keeps for at least a week.

What’s NOT: nothing really . . . it was a really good addition to my potluck dinner to serve with the chicken.

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

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Chakalaka Relish

Recipe By: Sarah Graham, Cooking Channel, 2016
Serving Size: 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion — finely chopped
1 whole red chile — seeded, finely sliced
1 whole red bell pepper — seeded, finely chopped
1 clove garlic — minced
1 teaspoon curry powder — (1 to 2)
1/2 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
2 medium carrots — grated
14 ounces baked beans
14 ounces canned tomatoes — chopped
1 tablespoon chutney — or apricot jam
1 tablespoon ketchup
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, at least 5 minutes.
2. Add the red chiles, bell peppers, garlic, curry powder, mixed herbs and carrots, and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Add the beans, tomatoes, chutney, ketchup and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. (I didn’t cook this for 30 minutes as I liked the crunch to the vegetables, but traditionally you would.)
Per Serving: 227 Calories; 8g Fat (27.5% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 38g Carbohydrate; 9g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 602mg Sodium.

Posted in Chicken, Grilling, on October 10th, 2018.

bbq_chix_south_african_style_chakalaka relish

Just another grilled chicken recipe, but with a South African twist.

The picture at right is Sarah Graham. A cookbook author, writer, and a host of two seasons of a cooking show on the Cooking Channel. She lives in South Africa, and what I loved about her show was the location – she filmed outside and off in the distance behind her outdoor kitchen, were wild animals. You might still be able to find her shows on reruns if you look up Sarah Graham’s Food Safari. When I was watching her show, it was just before and just after I went to Africa and did a couple of weeks of safaris (loved it). I do enjoy listening to South Africans with their very different English accents. So it was with Sarah Graham.

A few recipes from her shows got saved to my to-try file (recipes are still available at the Cooking Channel, I would assume), and this is one of them.

This post is lagging a bit behind – – I made this over Labor Day weekend when I decided I was not going to be sitting home on the holiday Monday doing nothing. So I invited a group of friends over (all widows) and we did a potluck dinner. One friend brought lovely Dutch cheeses and crackers. Another brought a delicious apple crumble pie; yet another a green salad, another a rice, green chile and cheese casserole, and lastly a cold broccoli salad. And I did the main dish (chicken) on the grill. Along with a very unusual relish (that mound of red stuff on the right on the plate at top).

labor_day_dinnerHere’s a photo of our group, from left: Annette, Judy, me, Judy and Mary Lou. Nancy took the photo. It was a gorgeous evening – we had been having lovely weather the last 2 weeks, gearing up, probably for blistering heat we usually have in September and October. I made strawberry gins – I should write up a post about that. My family (well, the ladies of my family) enjoyed them mostly in England, but we also found them in Paris and Florence also. So very refreshing. I found strawberry gin at my local “Total Wine,” but you might have to seek it out. You macerate a strawberry or two in a glass, add the strawberry gin, then top off with tonic. And lots of ice. Then wedge a strawberry on the rim of the glass, add a mint leaf and present!

So, back to the chicken. I’m going to post the relish tomorrow – so DO wait until you get that recipe before you make this. The relish is so unusual and different, but goes perfectly with the chicken. Anyway, the recipe indicates using a spatchcocked chicken (my Trader Joe’s has them fresh) or you can ask a butcher to cut it, or you can cut it yourself. You cut through the backbone (and remove it completely) and flatten out the bird so it can lay flat on the grill. You might have to nip a bit around the breast bone to get it to flatten out. I decided, actually, to cut the bird in half as I thought it would be easier for me to maneuver on the grill. It was a 5 pound bird I bought.

Marinate the chicken overnight – I used a big Ziploc bag – first I added in all the marinade ingredients – oil, balsamic, pourable honey, lemon juice, paprika, dry cilantro, cinnamon, garlic, fresh red chile, and a little jot of ketchup. The next morning I turned the bag over and squished the marinade around (it doesn’t make all that much). About 45 minutes before grilling, take it out of the refrigerator and let it warm a little bit. Meanwhile, fire up the grill.

You might find this hard to believe, but truly I’m a novice or an apprentice (but without a teacher) at the grill. You read this here before, my DH Dave was the grill meister in our house, and I merely told him what I needed him to do – cook to what temp and what the internal temp needed to be. He loved everything about mastering the grill techniques. Me, not so much. Because I’m alone now, when I have to manage or monitor what’s on the grill, I have to leave my guests – although every one of my friends understood why I was up and down checking on the chicken. No way did I want it to overcook!

What’s GOOD: really liked the flavor, and it was super-moist and tender. I first grilled it over high heat, then turned it down to medium and kept checking the internal temp. The skin charred well (see photo at top) but the chicken just below it was juicy.  The relish that went with it was a hit – it’s very unusual. The marinade did give the chicken some flavor, and cooking it with the lid down on the grill gave it some smoky flavor too. Likely you could bake this in the oven easily enough too. Yes, I’d make it again.

What’s NOT: nothing other than needing to start this the day before, to marinate the chicken.

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

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BBQ Chicken (South African)

Recipe By: Sarah Graham, Cooking Channel, 2016
Serving Size: 4

2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey — needs to be thin in order to dissolve in the marinade
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cloves garlic — minced
1 green chile — seeded and chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried chile flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 pounds whole chicken — spatchcocked or cut into 8 skin-on pieces

1. In a sealing plastic bag, mix together the ketchup, olive oil, balsamic, honey, lemon juice, paprika, dried cilantro, cinnamon, garlic, chiles and a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
2. Add the chicken, squish it around, seal the bag and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight. Turn bag over at least once so the other side of the chicken is marinated as well.
3. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 20-30 minutes before cooking to bring to room temperature.
4. Grill the chicken, lid down, for 30 to 35 minutes, or until cooked through, turning halfway and basting with extra sauce every 10 minutes. Thigh meat should register 160-165°F.
5. Serve immediately with a side salad and the chakalaka relish on the side. If you have fresh cilantro, sprinkle a little bit on top of the chicken. Cut serving sized pieces and plate it.
Per Serving: 680 Calories; 48g Fat (63.8% calories from fat); 51g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 247mg Cholesterol; 283mg Sodium.

Posted in Salad Dressings, on October 10th, 2018.

fresh_lime_vinaigrette

What do you do when you acquire a windfall of limes? Well, you could make margaritas, or some other refreshing drink. In this case it’s salad dressing.

I actually have a lime tree. A dwarf one that lives in a big pot on my patio. To date (about 5 years) it’s yielded maybe 3 limes. This year I got one. I’m not sure what to do with the tree – I guess I’ll keep watering it (it’s on automatic drip) in hopes that it will suddenly decide to fruit more of them.

limes_in_a_bowlBut meanwhile, when I was at the gym the other day, one of the trainers mentioned there was a bowl of limes at the front counter and that I should help myself. I thought about taking one (to be nice, and assuming others would want them too), but she said, oh, no, take all you want – I have hundreds on my tree. So I took a bunch. If there are more the next time I go in, I’ll help myself and probably freeze the juice in 1/2 cup portions. Of course, limes don’t yield a whole lot of juice so it does take a bunch to make up 1/2 cup of juice – I think it took 4.

Here on my blog I have a recipe for a cocina salad with cilantro lime dressing, but I knew if I made that one, I’d need to use up the dressing within 3 days because the cilantro gets icky, even suspended in the dressing. So I went hunting for another recipe, and found one at epicurious. Its only unusual item is the addition of ground coriander. And it also called for cilantro, but I eliminated that part and merely added it to my salad itself.

Surely I’ve mentioned it recently, but I dislike bottled salad dressings. I always prefer my own homemade ones. And because I’m eating a salad nearly every evening, I like variety in my dressings. I have 3 in my refrigerator as I write this. But this one is the first one I go to if I have a choice!

When I mixed it up, I tasted it, using the directions as written. I found the dressing just a tetch too sharp, so I added in another tablespoon or so of oil. I also used a new artificial sweetener that I like. It’s liquid monkfruit. I’ve never had monkfruit – – from wikipedia: monk fruit is a herbaceous perennial vine of the Cucurbitaceae (gourd) family, native to southern China and northern Thailand. The plant is cultivated for its fruit, whose extract is nearly 300 times sweeter than sugar and has been used in China as a low-calorie sweetener for cooling drinks and in traditional Chinese medicine. They extract the juice and concentrate it and mine is a liquid in a little bitty bottle and it drips out. I used 8 drops of monkfruit extract to sweeten the salad dressing. Monkfruit has all kinds of healthful qualities and it slips through your system without being digested, mostly.

What’s GOOD: the dressing is very lime-forward – you truly can taste it. Liked it. The sugar/monkfruit took the edge off, but also the other tablespoon or so of oil helped moderate the sharpness of the lime juice. I liked the flavor altogether, and the ground coriander added a little extra flavor – it’s hardly discernible, however.

What’s NOT: nothing really, unless limes are ridiculously expensive where you live.

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Fresh Lime Vinaigrette

Recipe By: Adapted from epicurious
Serving Size: 4

1/2 cup fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 whole garlic clove — finely minced
2 teaspoons sugar — or artificial sweetener
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil — or more if needed

1. On a cutting board, mince the garlic first, then add the salt to the garlic and continue to mince. Set aside for a few minutes.
2. In a tightly lidded jar add all ingredients together including the garlic. Allow to sit at room temp for about 30 minutes before using, so the garlic will mellow a little bit. Taste for acidity and salt – it may need another tetch of oil if it’s too sharp.
Per Serving: 260 Calories; 27g Fat (90.6% calories from fat); trace Protein; 6g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 941mg Sodium.

Posted in Desserts, Gundry-friendly, on October 8th, 2018.

keto_mug_cake

Oh my goodness. I’ve discovered nirvana. I can still have my cake and eat it too!

For the last many months, I’ve been on a diet (Steven Gundry, Plant Paradox diet) and the weight loss has slowed down to a trickle. So much so that if I go out to eat – and am still trying to order things that are within the diet – I gain a pound every time. (It’s probably portion control and salt and maybe sometimes a sauce or something like that served with the piece of fish or chicken.) Then it takes me another week or more to get that off. I’m quite frustrated. There are lots of foods I really miss – some carbs, even some vegetables like green beans (the seeds contain lectins). I miss a piece of toast now and then. I miss eating a sandwich, like a tuna sandwich on white bread. I miss desserts. There is a coconut milk ice cream that is acceptable (So Delicious brand) but I don’t like it all that much. I’m really missing Mexican food – I’d do just about anything to have a shredded beef taco right about now. Or a cheese enchilada. But no, I’m afraid that if I succumb to having it once, it would become a regular routine to go off the diet. But what I’m not missing is chocolate because I’m able to have an ounce a day. Yippee!

So, at one of the Phillis Carey cooking classes a month or so ago, she mentioned a chocolate mug cake that she can have on her diet (keto). She emailed the recipe to me. I promptly looked at the ingredients and decided that yes, I can have it too! I made it once and was not thrilled, but I decided afterwards that I could tweak the recipe and would buy some fresh(er) almond meal. The mug cake had a decided bitter aftertaste that I couldn’t define. The almond meal didn’t smell stale, but then I didn’t taste it straight, either and it definitely was past its use-by date. So, today, I was just craving something sweet (I don’t often have those cravings) and since I can have a tablespoon of cocoa a day (or regular chocolate, 1 ounce) I’d try making the keto mug cake again. I had a new bag of Trader Joe’s almond meal (almond flour is okay too).

One thing I tweaked was the amount of sweetener. The original recipe called for 2 T of sweetener. Well, I think that’s way too much – I morphed it down to 1/2 tablespoon for the mug in its entirety. But perhaps that’s the Swerve. Taste the batter to make sure.

First I melted a tablespoon of butter in a mug in the microwave. (Now, technically, a tablespoon of butter is not on my diet, but even Gundry says that if butter is an important element to something go ahead and use it in moderation, so I did.) Then you add the almond flour, (there’s no wheat flour in this), baking powder, sugar sweetener in some form (I used Swerve, which is my new go-to sweetener), the tablespoon of cocoa powder, some coconut shreds if you want them (I didn’t), an egg and a tiny tetch of vanilla. Stir it up well in the mug and put it in the microwave. The recipe says 45-60 seconds. Mine is done perfectly at 45 seconds. The cake part rises up more than halfway in the mug and it kind of has a sponge-like look to the top. You sprinkle in just a few chocolate chips (optional – recipe calls for sugar free – I used the real thing, but only about 3-4) and pour on a tablespoon of coconut cream or heavy cream. Eat. Oohs and aaahs from here.

Whether I can have this regularly – well, probably not. But when I’ve had a really light lunch as I did today, I think the keto mug cake is in order. The calorie count is 427, so yes, this definitely needs to be an occasional treat!

What’s GOOD: nirvana for me, on this just-about-zero-carbs diet I’m on. Taste is wonderful – cake is moist and kind of sponge-cake like. Definitely a good chocolate taste/flavor. Not a large portion, which is good. Protein is in there (egg and almond meal) and I get my ration of chocolate too. Altogether wonderful. And it took all of about 4 minutes to mix it up and 45 seconds to “cook.”

What’s NOT: nothing at all, really. If you’re not dieting, use regular sugar – taste and add what you think it needs. Don’t use honey as it would change the chemistry – might need another tablespoon of almond meal if you used that route.

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

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Chocolate Keto Mug Cake

Recipe By: adapted slightly from Phillis Carey
Serving Size: 1

1 tablespoon butter — salted
3 tablespoons almond flour — or almond meal
1/2 tablespoon Swerve — or erythritol or monkfruit sugar (if you use different sweeteners, taste the batter, it may need more)
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon coconut shreds — unsweetened, optional
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg — beaten
1/8 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon chocolate chips — sugar free Lily brand, optional
1 tablespoon coconut milk — or coconut cream or heavy cream, optional

1. Melt butter in mug in microwave oven. Stir in almond flour, sweetener, cocoa, coconut, baking powder, egg and vanilla; mix well.
2. Microwave on HIGH power for 45-60 seconds until puffed and set. DO NOT OVERCOOK. Immediately top with chocolate chips. Serve topped with coconut milk or cream, if desired, to moisten the cake.
Per Serving: 427 Calories; 32g Fat (62.5% calories from fat); 19g Protein; 24g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 243mg Cholesterol; 453mg Sodium.

Posted in Beverages, on October 6th, 2018.

fresh_strawberry_margaritas

This time of year is not the time to do strawberry anything. But save this recipe for next spring when really ripe strawberries are available.

It was awhile back that Phillis Carey made these margaritas, and I wrote “fab” beside the recipe, then forgot to write it up and post it for you! This is one very delicious recipe – and so much better than anything you’d order in a nice Mexican restaurant or bar. You may not ever go back to any mix after you taste these.

Start working on this a few hours ahead so the mixture can chill thoroughly. First you need to make the “margarita mix.” See the recipe at the bottom. It will require a LOT of fresh lemon and lime juice. I mean a LOT, but once you make it, it’ll keep in the refrigerator for about a week. This recipe makes drinks for 4-6 people, and if they like them as much as we did, maybe you should double the recipe.

You do rub the rims of the glasses with lime wedges (juice) and then dip in sugar. Set them aside. Then you mix up the margaritas (fresh strawberries, tequila, the margarita mix you made earlier, triple sec, lime juice and orange juice). Blend it then blend again with a specific amount of ice cubes, then pour immediately. DO USE VERY RIPE STRAWBERRIES in this – Phillis warned us that if the berries aren’t at the peak of ripeness, you’ll be disappointed. Duly noted . . .

What’s GOOD: you’ll hear raves – I just know it because there were mmmm’s all around the room when Phillis served these. It’s very refreshing, but packs a punch of alcohol, of course, but the strawberries and the fresh citrus help to temper the strength. Altogether fabulous drink. And it’s not overly sweet. You’d think it would be, but no, it wasn’t. I really liked that part.

What’s NOT: maybe the amount (2 or more lemons and probably 4-5 limes) of lemons and limes you’ll need to make this. Have trees? Use those. Or make these when you can buy lemons and limes at a better price!

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

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Fresh Strawberry Margaritas

Recipe By: Phillis Carey, cooking instructor, 5/2018
Serving Size: 5

MARGARITA MIX: (makes 2 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
MARGARITA:
granulated sugar and lime wedges, for the glass
2 cups fresh strawberries — diced, VERY RIPE ONLY
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/3 cups tequila
3/4 cup margarita mix (above)
6 tablespoons Triple Sec
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
3 cups ice cubes

1. MARGARITA MIX: Combine water and sugar in a large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil. Turn off heat and cool completely (to room temp). Can be made ahead and refrigerated. When syrup is cool/cold, mix syrup, lemon juice and lime juice. Cover and chill overnight, if possible. Can be kept for a week, or freeze for longer storage.
2. MARGARITAS: Rub rims of glasses with lime wedges and dip rims in sugar. Set aside. Toss strawberries with sugar, stir and set aside for 15-30 minutes.
3. Place strawberries and any accumulated juices, tequila, margarita mix, Triple Sec , lime and orange juices in a blender and puree until smooth. Add ice cubes and puree until slushy. Pour into glasses and serve immediately.
Per Serving (not accurate because the margarita mix quantity is more than you’ll use in the recipe): 384 Calories; trace Fat (1.0% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 54g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 8mg Sodium.

Posted in Chicken, on October 2nd, 2018.

triple_layer_chix_quesadilla_wedges

Mouth watering going on here at my end – this was before I started on a carb-free diet, and I ate this with relish back a few months ago.

This diet I’m on (virtually carb-free) does have me wishing for some Mexican food now and then. I miss chile rellenos and tostadas. Even refried beans. Didn’t think I’d miss them! It’s the crunch of the tortillas I miss, too. But, oh well, I’m working off the pounds slowly without tortillas, potatoes, rice, grains, bread, beans, squashes, etc.

But, since you, my readers, aren’t following my diet – you can make this recipe with abandon and you’ll love it. At the cooking class with Phillis Carey, she made her own pico de gallo, and her own buttermilk garlic dressing for the salad. You can short cut by purchasing those things. But I’ll include them all in the recipe below. The tortillas are stacked with Jack cheese, cheddar, goat cheese, olives and chicken meat that’s been tossed with some barbecue sauce. You make 2 layers, using 3 tortillas total for each serving (so this recipe makes 3 of the layered pieces which are then cut into wedges to serve). The quesadillas are baked first (10-15 minutes) until the tops are browned and crispy, then you cut each into wedges, add the lettuce with dressing and some pico de gallo and lastly sprinkle on some fresh cilantro. Altogether easy – ideal if you have some leftover chicken, perhaps? This could be an appetizer or a dinner – it’s rich with all the cheeses in it, so maybe an adult could eat one full round.

What’s GOOD: this is easy to make if you have the cheeses on hand, and you have some chicken already made. Use ranch dressing as a stand-in, and some jarred salsa too. Really delicious – and different because of the way you make them – layered/stacked and with the BBQ sauce on the chicken.

What’s NOT: nothing, really.

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

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Triple Layer BBQ Chicken Quesadilla Wedges

Recipe By: Phillis Carey, cooking instructor, 5/2018
Serving Size: 6

PICO DE GALLO:
6 medium plum tomatoes — seeded, diced
1/2 serrano chile — seeded, minced
3 cloves garlic — minced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro — chopped
salt and pepper to taste
SALAD & DRESSING:
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 cloves garlic — minced
1/4 cup red onion — minced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro — chopped
2 teaspoons chipotle chile canned in adobo — finely chopped
6 cups Romaine lettuce — shredded
QUESADILLAS:
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 cup barbecue sauce — smoky type, DIVIDED USE
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
9 6-inch flour tortillas
2 cups jack cheese — shredded
2 cups cheddar cheese — shredded
1/2 cup goat cheese — crumbled
1 red onion — thinly sliced
6 ounces sliced black olives — drained
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 cup fresh cilantro — chopped

1. PICO DE GALLO: Combine all ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temp for up to 3 hours (or refrigerate for a few hours more – best eaten the day it’s made).
2. DRESSING: Puree ingredients in blender (except lettuce), then season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for up to 48 hours.
3. QUESADILLAS: Trim chicken and pound to an even thickness of 1/4″. Pour 3/4 cup of barbecue sauce over chicken, turning to coat. Let marinate for 2 hours in the refrigerator, or 30 minutes at room temp. Wipe barbecue sauce off chicken (it burns) and brush chicken with oil. Grill (stovetop grill or outdoor) 3-4 minutes per side over medium heat.. Let cool and cut chicken into thin strips, toss with remaining 1/4 cup barbecue sauce.
4. Preheat oven to 425°F. Add red onions to a small bowl with water and a small splash of white or apple cider vinegar. Let those sit for about 15-20 minutes, drain, blot on paper towel.
5. Arrange 3 tortillas on 1 or 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Combine the 3 grated/crumbled cheeses. Using half the cheese blend, half the onion, half the olives and half the chicken placing some chicken around the outside edges to help prop up those edge so they don’t collapse when baked. Top with another tortilla and repeat process. Top with remaining tortillas. Brush tops of all 3 stacks with oil, using a silicone brush, then sprinkle the tops with chili powder. At this point these may be refrigerated (covered well with plastic wrap) for several hours. If refrigerated, the baking process may take a few extra minutes.
6. Bake the quesadillas for 10-15 minutes, until tops are lightly browned and crispy.
7. Cut each quesadilla in 6 quarters. Meanwhile, toss lettuce with some of the dressing and add to the serving plate. Serve 3 wedges per person and add pico de gallo on top, a drizzle more dressing and sprinkle with fresh cilantro.
Per Serving: 777 Calories; 52g Fat (59.6% calories from fat); 32g Protein; 49g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 86mg Cholesterol; 1267mg Sodium.

Posted in Grilling, Gundry-friendly, lectin-free, Pork, on September 28th, 2018.

pork_skewers_souvlaki

Delicious, tender pork grilled on the outdoor barbecue, with a Greek influence.

Every so often I have to do some blog housekeeping, to transfer photos to CDs for long-term storage. (Although I hear that sometime in the not too distant future, we’re no longer going to be able to buy CDs, since that’s old-school now). Since I’ve been writing this blog for 11 years, I have a LOT of CDs filled with my food photos. Way too much to keep on my hard drive. At any rate, I was working on that this morning and realized that I hadn’t posted 3 recipes. So I’m fixing that now.

I’d invited friends over for dinner – this was back in early July, and my friend Cherrie’s husband took over as grill meister for me, and I told him whatever he did, not to cook these past 140°F. He was meticulous and brought them in and I snapped the photo. The recipe came from a post over at Kalyn’s Kitchen. I followed her recipe to the letter.

First I cubed up the pork (I bought a roast rather than pork chops as I wanted to make sure the cubes were thick enough), then I put the cubes into a Ziploc bag with all of the marinade ingredients. What is souvlaki,  you ask: from Wikipedia, it says – Souvlaki is a popular Greek fast food consisting of small pieces of meat and sometimes vegetables grilled on a skewer. It is usually eaten straight off the skewer while still hot. Greek marinades usually start with olive oil, then include a variety of herbs (usually dried oregano) and garlic for sure. This one uses lemon juice as the acid and also includes a tad of red wine vinegar. That was left to sit for 24 hours – although Kalyn said this could sit just 6 hours to work its magic. Do turn the bag over a few times so all the pork pieces are coated in the marinade.

The cooking time is short – max 15 minutes, as the pork is very lean and can go from juicy to dry in a matter of less than a minute. So watch the temp. I’d grill these at the low side of medium-high heat if you’re able to fine-tune your grill that way. Allow the pork to sit, tented in foil for about 5 minutes before serving. I served this with the Cauliflower Slaw I posted recently. It was a perfect accompaniment to the pork.

What’s GOOD: loved the Greek lemon juice and garlic flavors in this. Plus the oregano too. Easy to do for guests, as long as you have time to manage the grilling.

What’s NOT: nothing that I can think of – just don’t overcook them.

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

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Pork Skewers Souvlaki

Recipe By: Kalyn’s Kitchen
Serving Size: 5

2 1/2 pounds boneless pork sirloin chops
2 tablespoons EVOO — for brushing kabobs right before grilling
MARINADE:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon garlic — finely minced
salt and ground black pepper to taste

1. Cut pork chops or pork loin roast into cubes about 2 inches square and place in Ziploc bag.
2. Combine marinade ingredients and pour over meat. Crush the oregano between your palms as you add it to the marinade. Marinate in refrigerator for 6-24 hours. Turn the bag several times so all the surfaces of the meat sit in the marinade.
3. When you’re ready to cook, drain the pork cubes in a colander, place in the sink while you preheat grill to high heat.
4. Thread meat on to skewers, pressing meat closely together so it doesn’t spin on the grill. (Double Kabob Skewers or thick blade skewers are great if you can find them.)
5. When grill is hot, brush kabobs with olive oil on both sides, place Souvlaki skewers on grill and reduce heat to medium-high.
6. Grill skewers, turning as soon as you see grill marks on each, until the Souvlaki is very well browned on all sides. This will take about 15 minutes total cooking time, but actual cooking time depends on the temperature of the meat, temperature of your grill, the air temperature and exactly how thick you cut the pork. Use an instant-read meat thermometer to check that the pork has reached 140°F for barely pink in the middle.
6. Let it rest for at least 5 minutes after you remove from the grill, then serve hot.
Per Serving: 553 Calories; 40g Fat (66.0% calories from fat); 43g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 134mg Cholesterol; 105mg Sodium.

Posted in Beef, on September 24th, 2018.

tomato_glazed_meatloaf

These probably should be called meatloaf balls – they’re so perfect for individual servings – make them as small or large as you’d like. Then brush with a tomato glaze.

As I mentioned in my last post, I offered to take dinner to 3 people (one couple and a single) a few weeks ago, and after seeing what other people were taking to the couple, I suggested meatloaf. They said “YES.” Normally I’d make mashed potatoes, but I’d noticed that 2 other meal-helpers had taken them mashed potatoes, so I suggested rice or pasta. RICE was the answer. My single friend Melida doesn’t care what I bring her – she’ll eat anything I make, God bless her!

meatloaf_individual_before_glazingThis recipe for meatloaf contains some different ingredients (which was why it interested me). Dijon mustard for one, and smoked paprika, for another.  Some meatloaf recipes use Worcestershire, but in this one there’s a bit more than usual. The original recipe came from Smitten Kitchen, and Deb talked about her aversion to meatloaf, so she invented these meatballs that stand in for meatloaf. Loved the idea. I’ve made that type before. One of the best parts about making these large rounds is that they cook faster than a single, big loaf type meatloaf – these in 25 minutes or no more than 30.

raw_meatloaf_after_glazingNow Deb made hers to nestle on the top of a mound of browned butter mashed potatoes. I didn’t go that route, but there was no difference in the meatloaf part of the recipe in any case. You mix up ground beef and ground pork (Deb used all beef) along with a bunch of finely diced and cooked onion, carrot, celery and garlic. She used bread in hers, but since I’m trying to not eat carbs, I upped the number of eggs, and it worked just fine. Also in the meatloaf is a jot of tomato paste, salt, pepper and chopped parsley.

meatloaf_balls_bakedMeanwhile, you make your own topping. I really, really liked the tomato glaze – it’s a type of sweet/sour sauce that’s not all that sweet (used only 2 teaspoons of honey for about 2/3 cup of sauce). You combine tomato paste, cider vinegar, the honey, more Worcestershire, Dijon and salt and bring it to a simmer. Bingo. Done. As you can see from the photos, first I formed the meatballs (I had 2 pans of them since I increased the quantity some), then spread them with the glaze. Into a 350°F oven they went and I began testing the internal temp at about 20 minutes. You want an internal temp of 160°F.

Next time I make these I’m going to double the sauce and will glaze the meatballs a 2nd time during the baking. As you can see from the finished photo, some of the sauce kind of slides off. It might be better also, to flatten the tops of the meatballs – that way the sauce would stay put. So I have changed the recipe below to achieve those things. Deb actually makes a kind of groove in the middle of her meatballs (which maybe accomplished the same thing as flattening the top) so the glaze stayed put.

Since I made extra, I have 4 meatballs in my freezer now and I put a dollop of extra sauce in some plastic wrap and put that on top of the frozen meatball so it’ll be available to glaze mid-way when I bake them next. To freeze them, I did brush the glaze on them, put them on a plastic-wrap lined baking sheet, put them in the freezer that way, then once they were frozen I put the little package of extra sauce on top, then wrapped each meatball individually in plastic wrap and then into a Ziploc freezer bag. When I defrost I will remove the sauce package before allowing them to defrost – so the plastic wrap doesn’t pick up the sauce that’s ON the meatball already.

What’s GOOD: Altogether delicious meatloaf/meatball – loved the hint of smoked paprika in this, and although you couldn’t taste the Worcestershire or Dijon, you know there is something else interesting in them to give them extra-good flavor. Even without adding bread or some other carb (oatmeal) this meatloaf is very light in texture. This recipe is a winner and I’ll be making these again and again.

What’s NOT: nothing other than the prep work, but there isn’t that much to do.

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Tomato Glazed Meatballs

Recipe By: Adapted from a recipe on Smitten Kitchen
Serving Size: 10

GLAZE:
2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil — or olive oil, or avocado oil
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup cider vinegar
4 teaspoons honey
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
MEAT:
1 tablespoon olive oil — or avocado oil
1/2 medium onion — minced
1 medium celery stalk — minced
1 medium carrot — minced
2 cloves garlic — smashed and minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 pounds ground beef — ground chuck preferably
1 pound ground pork — lean
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup Italian parsley — finely chopped
1/3 cup milk

1. Make the glaze: Combine glaze ingredients in a small saucepan, and simmer, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes until and glaze is satiny smooth. Remove about 1/3 of the sauce to glaze the meatloaf balls when they come out of the oven. Use the larger portion to glaze before and during baking. Set aside.
2. Prepare the meatballs: Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat 2 9×13-inch baking dishes with nonstick spray or oil.
3. Add the onion, garlic, celery, and carrot to a large skillet over medium heat, coated with oil. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool before adding to the meat mixture.
4. In a large bowl combine the eggs, tomato paste, Dijon, smoked paprika, Worcestershire, salt and milk. Mix this thoroughly with a whisk (it will distribute better when you add the meat), then add the cooled vegetables and the meat. Stir the ingredients together with a fork or your hands until evenly blended.
5. Form the meatloaf mixture into about 10 meatballs. Arrange in baking pan. Gently flatten the top of each meatball (so the sauce won’t drain off). Drizzle or brush each meatball with about 2 teaspoons or so of the tomato glaze you made earlier, and bake until cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes (an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a cooked meatball will register 160° to 165°F). Pause half way through and glaze the top of the meatballs again with the sauce.
6. Brush the reserved tomato glaze on top of each meatball and serve with more chopped parsley if desired.
Per Serving: 654 Calories; 53g Fat (73.5% calories from fat); 34g Protein; 9g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 234mg Cholesterol; 649mg Sodium.

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