Thursday, September 11, 2014

Moist Zucchini Bread, Gluten and Dairy Free

After a lifetime of being heavy and trying different diets, I think, I hope, I have my fingers crossed I think I found one that works for my body type. Everybody is different, but I have been eating a paleo diet for a little over a month, with an emphasis on local organic vegetables, and I feel great. I haven't lost a ton of weight, only seven pounds, but I feel amazing. My runs are the best they have ever been, my energy level is way high, and I sleep without sleeping pills. It is kind of mind blowing, #mindblown. So, I haven't really been blogging because to be honest, I am still getting the hang of this new way of cooking. But I tried this zucchini bread, and it is pretty awesome. So, here you go... 

What you need: 

1/2 cup coconut flour 

3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon  salt
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
4 eggs 
Tablespoon maple syrup
1 small to medium zucchini, shredded finely
1 ripe banana, smashed
Tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 cup pecans or hazelnuts

What you do: 

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees 
2. Grease a loaf pan with coconut oil
3. Mix together all the dry ingredients, and set aside
4. In a standing mixer or another bowl mix together all the wet ingredients including the shredded zucchini and banana. 
5. Mix the dry into the wet ingredients, and stir to combine. 
6. Fold in the nuts
7. Pour into your prepared loaf pan
8. Bake for about 45 minutes, but test it with a toothpick
9. Let cool 
10. Enjoy with outside with coffee for breakfast taking in the last few inhales of sweet Indian Summer 

As always, much love, many blessings, and happy baking!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Stuffed Cheesy Sausage Heirloom Tomatoes

I love stuffed vegetables. I think it is an Egyptian thing. We stuff anything, grape leaves, tomatoes, cabbage, eggplant, and everything stuffed is called "mashi." It is surprising how many traditional Egyptian dishes have Southern twins. This is one of them. I have put my own twist on it. I will also take this moment to brag about my garden of heirloom tomatoes, which adore. I found the Virginia Heirloom Tomato Seeds the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, which may be my favorite website of all time. I digress. Back to the maters, because they won't cook and eat themselves. 

What you need: 

4 large tomatoes 
1/2 pound lean sausage
1 medium onion diced
4 celery stocks diced
sprinkle of Slap yo Mama Creole Seasoning
a dash of cayenne 
1 teaspoon of balsamic or red wine vinegar 
salt and pepper to taste
4 slices of cheese, any kind you like I used Muenster because that is what I had

What you do: 

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F
2. Slice the tops of the tomatoes and keep them (they will be lovely little hats later) 
3. Using a spoon gently take out the tomato innards and put into a bowl. 
4. Cook up in a hot cast iron skillet the onions, celery, seasonings (and the sausage unless it is cooked already)
5.Mix the tomato guts, sausage, most of the basil, cayenne, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper in a bowl 
6. Fill the tomatoes with the sausage mixture
7. Top each tomato with a slice of cheese and the little tomato hat
8. Cook for 20 minutes or in my case how long it takes me to sing my little one to sleep 
9. Serve with a smile on your face and love in your heart and a big glass of Chianti

As always, much love, many blessings and happy garden to tabling!  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cucumber, celery, apple and lemon juice

This is by far my favorite juice. According to some of the juicing blogs I frequent cucumber has a cooling effect, very desirable in the hot Virginia blackberry summer. I also read that celery is a known stress reliever, clearly a status sought by all working moms. So hear goes, this recipe makes a quart. I make it on Sunday afternoons and then keep it in a jar for as long it lasts, usually a day or two for me. 

What you need: 

1 large english cucumber, washed 
1 large bunch of celery, washed
6 or so large apples, washed and quartered
1 small lemon, peeled and quartered

What you do: 

1. Using your juicer, turn on the blade runners
2. Push through all of the fruit and veg
3. Drink happily, clean the juicer soon after, you can compose the pulp

As always, much love, many blessings and happy juicing!

S'more Pops

This is a super easy, super fast treat. I made them for a sip n' see party but you could make them for any occasion, even a weeknight. 

What you need: 

12 or so large marshmallows
6 oz of chocolate chips or bark chocolate chopped
3 large graham crackers crushed 
12 or so paper straws or Popsicle sticks  

What you do: 

1. skewer the marshmallows with the straws
2. melt the chocolate chips in a mug in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time, stirring each time 
3. dip the marshmallow one at a time in the melted chocolate about 3/4 of the way up
4. take the chocolate marshmallow  out of the chocolate and allow the excess chocolate to drip off, shaking slightly 
5. then dip the chocolate covered marshmallow still wet into a bowl of crushed crackers about half way up 
6. allow the marshmallows to cool and harden on wax paper about an inch from each other 

as always, much love, many blessings, and happy chocolate dipping 

Skinny Spinach Manicotti (Vegetarian)

This is another one my of my freezer meals. You make a big batch and separate it into three aluminium tins and freeze it. This recipe also has the added benefit of being vegetarian. This recipe makes three 8X8 tins that you can freeze separately or you can make one large batch. 

What you need: 

1 large box of dry manicotti
1 jar of marinara sauce (16 oz) or your own (2 cups)
1 frozen bag of chopped organic spinach (16 oz) thawed
2 ricotta cheese 8 oz tubs (fat free if you are so inclined)
1 egg
1 large bag of shredded mozzarella 8 oz (fat free for me)
Italian seasoning
red pepper flake
olive oil spray  

What you do:

1. set a large pot of water to boil at least six quarts, once at a boil add one tablespoon of salt and the box of manicotti 
2. cook the manicotti for five minutes, it will still be quite raw but you want that so that it is not mushy when you put it in the oven
3. drain the manicotti, and spread on a large cookie sheet to cool 
4. drain the thawed chopped spinach and squeeze with your hands to remove any excess water
5. in a large ziptop bag mix together the spinach, ricotta, egg, and season with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flake according to taste
6. prepare the baking dish(es) spray with olive oil spray, spread a thin layer of marinara on the bottom of the dish or dishes 
7. spread out the manicotti rolls in a single layer in the baking tins
8. snip one of the bottom tips of the ziptop bag with the spinach ricotta mixture 
9. fill each of the manicotti rolls with mixture
10. covered the filled manicotti with marinara sauce, shredded mozzarella, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes to taste
11. you can then cover with foil and bake right away, keep in the fridge for a day, or freeze them 
12. once ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
13. cook for an hour covered, and uncovered for 15 minutes 
14. serve with chopped basil, Parmesan cheese on the table, a green salad and a good Italian Chianti 
15. enjoy with happy people who love you and love food 

as always, many blessings, much love, and happy cooking  

Monday, April 7, 2014

Hot Cross Buns Recipe

Easter is here! Oh happy day. Let's celebrate with hot cross buns!

What you need:

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm milk
3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated white sugar
2 teaspoons ground spices (for example, 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon allspice, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg)
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoon butter, softened
2 eggs, room temperature (if taking right out of the fridge, let sit in warm water for a few minutes to take the chill off before using)
3/4 cup currants (can sub half of currants with chopped candied citrus peel)
2 teaspoons grated orange zest


1 egg
1 tablespoon milk


1 teaspoon milk
3 to 4 tablespoon powdered sugar

What you do:

  1. First you will need to proof the yeast. In a small measuring cup, stir together 1/4 cup of the warmed milk and one teaspoon of sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and let sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy.
  2. In an electric mixer, whisk together 3 cups of the flour, the salt, spices, and 1/4 cup of sugar.
  3. Add the foamy yeast, softened butter, and eggs, and the remaining milk. Using the paddle attachment of the mixer, mix the ingredients until well incorporated. Add in the currants, candied peel, and orange zest.
  4. Switch to the dough hook attachment and start to knead on low speed. Slowly sprinkle flour, kneading until completely incorporated.
  5. Pull the sticky dough from bowl. Clean the bowl and spray with oil. Form a ball of dough in the bowl, cover with a spray of oil and use plastic wrap over the bowl. Let sit, covered, at room temperature for 2 hours, until the dough has doubled.
  6. Press down the dough. Roll the ball of dough into a log shape and cut it into 16 equal pieces.
  7. Take the individual pieces and form them into balls by tucking under the edges. Place each ball an inch apart on a baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled, about 30-40 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare egg wash by whisking together one egg and a tablespoon of milk. Score the top of the buns with a knife in a cross pattern. Using a pastry brush, brush on the egg wash over the dough.
  9. Place the tray in the middle rack of the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes, until the buns are lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool on the pan for a few minutes, then transfer the buns to a wire rack to cool.
  10. Whisk together the milk and the powdered sugar. Pipe two lines of frosting across each bun to make a cross.

Serve with hot coffee after Easter Service.

As always, much love, many blessings, and Happy Easter. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Crock-pot Beef and Broccoli

Like many working mothers, I love my crock-pot. I have been trying to get ahead of the dinner time-crunch and organize my week with the help of freezer bags and an hour or two on Sunday afternoon, during Freddy's nap-time. Suffice it to say my "cook for the week" journey is a lot like the Mexican - American war, some wins, some loses, and some disasters. Thankfully there is Mexican dictator involved, although my husband might disagree. Nonetheless, this recipe I am happy to report is a definite winner, the trick is to leave out the broccoli and put it in frozen or fresh about 20 minutes or so before you eat.  I do it just as I put on the rice to cook. 

What you need

  • 1 pound of all natural grass-fed beef stir-fry 
  • 1 cup of dark beef consume
  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil 
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcester sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar 
  • 3 large garlic cloves minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 16 oz bag of frozen organic broccoli florets (or fresh chopped) 
  • cooked rice
  • chili flake (optional)

What you do

  1. Add all of the ingredients save the broccoli and rice into the crock-pot. Cook on high for 2 and a half hours or 4 hours on low. 
  2. Add the broccoli about 20 minutes before you want to eat. 
  3. Make the rice
  4. Enjoy! 

Make-ahead and freezing instructions

  • You can mix all of the ingredients except for broccoli and rice and store in a Ziploc freezer bag. You can either freeze the bag  as it is, or place in your fridge. The ingredients will keep in your freezer for up to 3 days. 

    • Remember to label the bag with the dish 
    • If you freeze the ingredients, you can either thaw and then cook as instructed or you can put the frozen ingredients directly in the crock-pot. If cooking from frozen increase the time to 3 1/2 hours on high or 6 hours on low. 
    As always, much love, many blessings, and happy cooking!

    Skinny Turkey Lasagna

    Suffice it to say that no lasagna is skinny... I mean clearly, let us operate in the realm of truth. Nonetheless, this is a less calorie intensive rendition of this delicious comfort food. I switch out the normal pork sausage for a low fat turkey turkey sausage. I use part-skim and fat-free cheeses. I bulk up the flavor of marinara with balsamic vinegar and a ton more veggies. This is a great freezer meal or you can make ahead and store in your refrigerator a day in advance. 

    What you need

    • 3 stalks of celery diced
    • 2 medium onions diced
    • 1 cup of shredded carrots
    • 1 pound of raw turkey sausage 
    • 3 cloves of garlic minced or micro-planed 
    • 1 tablespoon of salt free Italian seasoning
    • 3 cups of marinara 
    • 2 eggs
    • 16 oz of fat-free ricotta
    • 2 cups of low fat mozzarella 
    • 1 box of no boil lasagna sheets or fresh pasta sheets
    • 2 tablespoons of Parmesan 
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • red pepper flake (optional)
    • basil leaf for serving

    What you do

    1. Make the sauce: In a large non-stick sauce pan over medium heat cook the celery, onions, and carrots. Cook the vegetables for a minute or two. Add the turkey sausage out of the casing. Cook until no longer pink, stirring. If the turkey sticks to the bottom of the pan add some water. Micro-plane in or add the minced garlic, add the Italian seasoning. Then add the marinara. Turn the heat down to low, and allow to simmer while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. 
    2. Make the cheese filling: In a large bowl whisk the eggs and add the ricotta. Stir until combined. Season with salt and pepper.   
    3. Assemble the lasagna: Cover your pan in foil and spray with non-stick spray. Pour a ladle full of sauce into the bottom of 11 X 9 X 3 inch serving dish or lasagna pan. Place the no-boil noodles, one at a time to make a noodle blanket and cover the bottom of the dish. Lots of thin layers is better than 2 thick ones. Layer a few laddles of the sauce. Cover with a layer of raw noodle sheets. Pour about half the cheese mixture, spread into a flat layer, cover with noodles. Repeat with remaining noodles, sauce, and cheese. When at the top, cover the noodle sheets with sauce, then mozzarella and top with Parmesan. You can bake right away or freeze for later. 
    4. Bake: Cook the lasagna covered for 30 minutes at 400 degrees; then uncover the dish for an additional 15 minutes so the cheese can turn bubbly and brown.  
    5. Serve: thinly slice fresh basil leaves. Serve with red pepper flakes and extra Parmesan cheese.

    Make-ahead and freezer directions 

    • The dish will keep in the refrigerator tightly covered for a day. 
    • If you are freezing cover the entire dish in foil. 
    • Write what is in the dish and label with date and cooking instructions. 
    • You can either thaw the lasagna and cook covered for 30 minutes at 400 degrees; or you can put the frozen lasagna in the oven covered in foil for 2 hours at 400 degrees. Either way you want to uncover the dish for an additional 15 minutes so the cheese can turn bubbly and brown.  
    As always, much love, many blessings, and happy cooking!

      Wednesday, February 19, 2014

      Skinny Chicken Alfredo with Spinach

      Everybody loves Chicken Alfredo unfortunately... not all of us have the calorie bandwidth for the real thing. This is my take cutting calories where I can. Instead of 3 sticks of butter and 2 cups of heavy cream sauce I make a bechamel with fat free chicken stock and skim milk. I use a small amount of Parmesan cheese instead of the usual 2 cups. I also bulk up my plate with a bed of spinach which adds some macro nutrients and makes me feel much better about the carb fest!

      What you need

      6 quarts of water
      1 teaspoon of olive oil
      1 shallot or 1/2 a small onion
      3 cloves of garlic
      1 tablespoon of olive oil
      2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
      salt and pepper to taste
      scraping of nutmeg
      3/4 cup of skim milk
      1/2 cup of fat free chicken stock
      2 tablespoons of Parmesan Cheese and more for serving
      dry or fresh pasta
      2 tablespoons of salt
      cubed roasted chicken (optional)
      fresh baby spinach (washed)
      chili flakes (optional)

      What you do

      1. Fill a large pot with water (6 quarts or so). Set on a high heat, cover.
      2. Heat a sauce pot on medium heat. Add the olive oil, and diced shallot. Cook until fragrant and translucent.
      3. Mince in the garlic cloves. I do this by rubbing the garlic over a micro plane directly into the pot. Add small amount of salt and pepper.
      4. Cook the garlic for a quick minute and pour the shallot and garlic mixture in a to a bowl and reserve.
      5. No need to clean the pot, but you don't want any left over pieces to burn while you cook the sauce.
      6. Heat the tablespoon of olive oil. Add the flour. Whisk until golden color. The flour will bubble. Add the milk, and chicken stock. Whisk until combined.
      7. Scrape nutmeg, add salt and pepper. Continue to whisk until the bechamel has reached a thick and creamy consistency. Taste to determine seasoning.
      8. Take off the heat add 2 tablespoons of Parmesan Cheese and the onion and garlic mixture.
      9. In the pot with boiling water, add the 2 tablespoons of salt . Cook the pasta according package directions.
      10. Mix the al'dente pasta with the sauce. Add chicken if you are using.
      11. Plate the dish on a bed spinach, add the pasta, season with chili flakes and Parmesan to taste.

      Enjoy! As always much love, many blessings, and happy cooking.

      Monday, January 6, 2014

      Edible Shortbread spoons with lemon curd and a blackberry

      There is something endearing about an edible spoon. I have never made them before and now that I have made these I only want to make them. I want to make chocolate ones, and sundried tomato basil ones, and I want to use them with my coffee... I'm a little obsessed. These are vanilla shortbread cookies with a dollop of lemon curd and a blackberry. 

      Here is what you need:

      2 1/2 cups of flour
      3/4 cup of sugar
      1 cup of butter (softened to a cool room temperature)
      2 teaspoons of vanilla
      2 Tablespoons of cream cheese  (softened to a cool room temperature)

      Here is what you do:

      1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
      2. Using a standing mixer add all of the ingredients
      3. Squich all the dough into two fat patties, wrap in plastic cling wrap and place in the fridge.
      4. One at a time roll out the dough to about 1/3 to 1/4 of an inch thick and cut with cookie cutters.
      5. Place on parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes. Or until the edges turn a slight golden color. They shouldn't get brown.
      6. Cool completely before decorating, adorn as desired. I put about 1/2 a teaspoon of store-bought but good quality lemon curd and topped each one with a plump juicy blackberry. 

      They were a hit at the party. We didn't have any left over. 

      As always, many blessings, much love, and happy baking!

      Three Elegant Easy Assemble Appetizers

      Normally when I through a party I don't go in for the little finger foods, I usually make one big dish and let everyone serve themselves family style, like a ham or a lasagna. But when dining as they do in Downton, I thought petite snacks were in order. Since I do not have a maid, a cook, and a butler full time attending to my needs, I had to find easy, delicious appetizers. These three appetizers are easily prepped the night before a party, and then simply assembled just before the party. 

      Smoked Salmon Cucumber Rounds

      1 English cucumber
      1 small packet of smoked salmon 
      8 oz of smoked salmon dip (ask your fish counter person) 
      8 oz of cream cheese (softened) 

      The night before

      1. Using a mandolin for easy and even slices cut the cucumber, store in cool water over night in the refrigerator in container with a lid. 
      2. Using a small cookie cutter, or just a knife cut the smoked salmon and store in an air tight container in the fridge. 
      3. Mix the smoked salmon dip and the cream cheese, place in a pastry bag with a star tip in a ziploc bag. 

      Just before the party

      4. Lay the cucumber pieces on a platter, top with smoked salmon, dollop or pipe on the dip. 

      Roast Beef and Onion Marmalade Canapes

      1 wheat baguette sliced (ask the bakery to cut it for you) 
      1/2 pound of garlic and herb roast beef (thin sliced from the deli counter) 
      onion marmalade (or make your own, with 1 onion, 1/2 cup of sugar, and 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper) 

      The night before

      1. Store your sliced baguette in a plastic bag so that it does not dry out. 
      2. Lay out the roast beef flat and cut into approximately 3 inch by 3 inch pieces. That meant for me, laying all of the pieces on top of each other and making two cuts, to cut each piece into thirds. Store in the fridge in a zip lock bag. 
      3. Make the onion marmalade: caramelize the onions on medium heat with salt and pepper, stirring occasionally. Add the sugar and stir to prevent scorching. Once the sugar has melted, off the heat add the vinegar. Store in an air tight container in the fridge. 

      Just before the party

      4.  Lay the baguette slices on a platter, top with roast beef, dollop on the onion marmalade. 

      English Cheddar and Major Grey Chutney Canapes

      1 baguette sliced (ask the bakery to cut it for you) 
      1/2 pound of good english cheddar
      Major Grey Chutney

      The night before

      1. Store your sliced baguette in a plastic bag so that it does not dry out. 
      2. Slice the cheese into half inch thickness, don't worry so much about the length, a good quality cheddar will break a little bit. Store in the fridge in a zip lock bag. 
      3. Leave the chutney in the jar, just don't forget where you put it. 

      Just before the party

      4.  Lay the baguette slices on a platter, top with cheese, dollop on the chutney. 

      As always, much love, many blessings, and happy party. 

      Downton Abbey Tea Shortbread

      My husband loves Downton Abbey, we both do. For his birthday party we had all of our friends dress up and enjoy a party "Downton" style. I loved it. And of course we had to have tea. Twinnings English Breakfast is my favorite but to make tea a little more special I added a heart shaped cookie perched on every tea cup. I decorated them with white chocolate and edible pearls and edible gold dust, but truth be told you could make this shortbread for anything, it cuts and bakes beautifully.

      Here is what you need:
      2 1/2 cups of flour
      3/4 cup of sugar
      1 cup of butter (softened to a cool room temperature)
      2 teaspoons of vanilla
      2 Tablespoons of cream cheese  (softened to a cool room temperature)

      Here is what you do:
      1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
      2. Using a standing mixer add all of the ingredients
      3. Squich all the dough into two fat patties, wrap in plastic cling wrap and place in the fridge.
      4. One at a time roll out the dough to about 1/3 to 1/4 of an inch thick and cut with cookie cutters.
      5. Place on parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes. Or until the edges turn a slight golden color. They shouldn't get brown.
      6. Cool completely before decorating, adorn as desired.

      As always, much love, many blessings, and happy Downton.