Pizza Night – Cauliflower or Gluten Free Crust?

Which do you prefer?

Well, tonight was the night. I made three different pizzas with different crust and different toppings. Two were cauliflower crust and the other a gluten free crust. My daughter and I have made the fig and arugula pizza before, so this was easy. It was trying my hand at the others I haven’t made before because of the plant based meats. Here we go!

Prep: sauce, plant based meatballs, chicken, smoked tempeh bacon, shred cashew based mozzarella, packaged plant base3d shredded mozzarella cheese (365 Whole Foods brand), cut half onion, strain can of mushrooms (normally I would use fresh mushrooms, but did have any on hand), prepare roasted red peppers, and sauté onions with garlic. I also precooked plant based chicken tenders (lime chipotle).

Sauce for chicken broccoli pizza: I did this at the last minute because I didn’t want the sauce to solidify: In a sauce pan, melt 1 tablespoon herbed oat butter, sauté garlic and mushrooms, add 1/4 cup almond milk, and 1/4 shredded plant based parmesan cheese.

For the tempeh and the onions: In a saucepan, I heated up 1 tablespoon of coconut oil until it was hot. I transferred the tempeh into the pan and cooked until firm – set it aside on a paper towel while I sautéed the onion with a little garlic (poured a little water in the pan to release the flavors from the tempeh.

For the plant based meatballs: Set a saucepan aside on the back burner with the plant based meatballs, covered and let cook until tender.

Tips: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. I have a convection oven, so 450 would have been too hot. For the gluten free crust, instead of cooking on a stone, I have a stainless steel pizza cooker with holes so the dough can breathe. For the cauliflower pizza’s I cooked them on bake in my Pampered Chef Air Fryer – they come out great!. You can use an oven stone if you have one. I have two, but they both wouldn’t have been able to fit with the other pizza in the oven, so I used the Air Fryer Oven.

Pizza #1 Plant based chicken, broccoli, roasted red peppers, mushrooms and caramelized onion.

Chicken Broccoli with white sauce topping

For the base: Cauliflower crust (the crust is plain – it comes two in a box depending on where you buy it). I bought this brand (CauliPower) from Market Basket. Since they are frozen, they were unthawed by the time I used them. Spoon sauce around the crust, add 1/2 cup shredded plant based mozzarella (365 Whole Foods Brand) with 1/4 cup of Miyokos cashew based mozzarella cheese (I had to grate it). The miyokos mozzarella was very soft to the touch, so I made sure I grated it carefully.

For the topping: plant based chicken tenders (precooked) – cut diagonally. Cooked broccoli – this was left over from a dinner the night before, so already prepped. If you need to prep, steamed would be fine. Then I topped it off with the sauce explained above.

Pizza #2 – Plant based meatball with mushroom and onions

Plant Based Meatball with mushrooms and onions

This was for the hubby, who is just starting to try gluten free and plant based items.

For the base: Gluten free – nut free- soy free- vegan from Ugly’s Bakery at Bar Louie’s. It’s a hand made sourdough pizza crust. The package says to thaw before using. Once thawed, I spread olive oil around the entire rim, then added the red sauce. I covered the pizza with the two types of cheeses, then cut up the meatball and spread them all around the pizza, with the mushroom and the remainder of the onions from Pizza #3.

Pizza #3 – This out favorite!!

Fig with Smoked Tempeh and Caramelized Onions

For the base: A cauliflower base with fig jam spread over the entire pizza – very thin layer of jam. Added the plant based mozzarella, spread 3/4 of small pieces of the smoked tempeh bacon (I used 4 pieces and then cut them up). I cooked that at 400 degrees (on bake) in my air fryer toaster oven, until the crust was just browned.

For the topping: Arugula. Topped with 1/4 of the smoked tempeh bacon and some of the onion reserve, then dolloped a little cashew herbed plant based cheese on the top and then drizzled a fig balsamic over the top, heated just a little bit in the oven.


I say Tabouli – you say Tabbouleh

Either way, it’s a Mediterranean dish made with bulgur wheat. When I don’t have bulgur wheat on hand, I buy the Near East Tabouleh grain mix. It comes with a season packet of dried parsley, onion, salt, garlic, molasses, honey, and black pepper. It very easy to prepare – pour the contents into a saucepan, boil some water (I usually use my hot water pot to boil the water), pour one cup of water into the saucepan, cover, and let sit for about five minutes.

I let the bulgur wheat cool off for a while before I put all the other ingredients in. While the bulgur wheat is cooling, you can dice cucumber, tomato, red onion, and red bell pepper. For the servings, I dice 1/2 cucumber, 1 tomato or 10 cherry tomatoes, 1/2 red onion, and 1/4 red bell pepper. Prep the juice from 1/2 a lemon, 1/4 lime, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Week 1 – Lifestyle Change 3/10/2021

We all have to start somewhere!

Most of us already have a routine, but how many of you have already tried many different life style changes only to be disappointed at what it really offers you in the long run? Where has it gotten you? What has it done for you? Life Style changes can be a really big hassle at times, they can also lead to other issues.

Welcome to my journey. I am finally going to follow a routine, catalog it weekly, and share it with you. What do I hope to get out of this? Peace of mind, comfort, knowing I still have the ability to make good choices and stick with the things I am so passionate about. I am also hoping you will be able to get some ideas and use these to your advantage in living a heartier lifestyle.

When I was younger, I didn’t have to worry much about losing weight. I was tall and slim with long legs and a fit body that allowed me to do just about anything my heart desired (ski, basketball, softball, field hockey, cross country, cross country ski, downhill ski, run, swim, bike, roller skate, roller blade, ice skate, mountain climb). You name it, I did it. Now, I would be surprised if I could even run around the block without losing my breath.

California

First things first. You have to be all on board.

Every weekly post will have something about the previous week so you can follow along if you’d like or just read about some of the things that might help you start your own plan and/or help you through your existing plan.

Are you ready!

#1 – Commitment

Whose on board with you – family, friends, supporters. Get them if you need them. I thought I was ready for this. I had vegan brownies in a container from days before I decided to start. What do I do with the brownies? Do I use them in part of my plan? Oh, no!!! I have to commit to starting this thing with the right mindset. What is the right mindset? Well, let’s see again, commitment! I’ve committed to one year of a paid program to help me lose weight. Then, I’ll have to use what I’ve learned and either do it on my own or look for a less expensive gym to continue to work out in. I’m just going to have to see what it brings me a year from. now. I always say, “It’s taken me 25 years to put on the weight, what is one year of commitment to taking it off!”

#2 – Organization:

What’s in your pantry? Make sure you have the right tools. Check out my Pampered Chef site for some ideas of what you want to use to cook with. What’s going to make you happy and also be helpful to allow you to succeed through this endeavor. My favorites are spatulas, scrapers, bar pans, bamboo utensils, shears, and mixing bowls. We’ll talk about flavor, flavor, and more flavor in the next few weeks. I’ve got some great things in my mind to share with you and I am so exciting!! Also, check out my e-book on Cabinet Organization (you can find it at the bottom of the website).

#3 – Food Shopping. Oh my!!

What’s on your grocery list?

I was given a meal plan to follow. The hardest part is figuring out what to substitute for everything that is dairy and grains. I haven’t eaten pasteurized milk products for about two years now. We switched over from cow’s milk to Almond milk for a healthy alternative. I also just started looking for plant based cheeses in order to give up cow and goat milk cheeses. Again, for a healthier alternative. I’ve actually really surprised myself with my great cheese finds. Last week I tried my taste at a plant based Cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Mozzarella. I haven’t tried the mozzarella yet, but intend to this weekend. Jackpot! I found a plant-based French-style cheese made by Treeline. Whoop, there it is! It has a cashew base, no sugar and 3g of carbohydrates to every 1 oz serving. Best thing of all is, I can shop for these products through my online shopping annuity, directly from Walmart.

Week One (March 10, 2021)

I went to the gym last Thursday to try a new approach. It’s a smaller gym than I am used to. I have been a supporter of the YMCA for many years, but I’m just not ready to work in an open environment with so many other people around. I found a small gym. There are four of us working out in a separated COVID safe section of the facility, while two to four others are working out in another part of the facility. Yes, only up to eight people in the studio at a time. It is a COVID safe environment and I feel most comfortable working out there.

On Saturday I went back. I was pleasantly surprise that my body didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would. I’m not going to give you a step by step replay of what I actually did for exercising. However, I will give you some ideas of what I did so you can get an idea of some of the things you might be able to do to help you throughout your week. Once I signed on, I knew I was committed. Let me just say this, it’s two days a week, with a rotation of different exercises for 30 minutes (more to come). I will have to commit to at least two days of home exercise and may share this part of my routine with you through Facebook live. If you haven’t already, please connect to my Facebook page Chef LisaG’s Food4Thought and Health.

So, what are you going to do first?

Join a gym? Work out on your own? Walk a mile? Start small, then go big?

Start a grocery list. Think about Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks and Dinner.

I use and APP called ShopList. If you have something different that works for you, please share it by making a comment.

In the interim, if you are a paper person, use this form:

Next post…. we will share and compare shopping lists and talk about the LoseIt App.

Credits: Vertex42.com (shopping list)


Why an UnFrachise?

I started my Unfranchise business in November of last year, right in the midst of COVID-19.  I was introduced to the product a second time around through a dear family of mine.  I don’t often refer to people as dear families (more like dear friends), but yes, this came about through a dear family of mine.  Their twenty-something daughter started her Unfranchise over thirteen years ago.  They had introduced it to me once before, but I wasn’t in the right mindset, nor did I think I was financial fit to take on such an endeavor at the time.  Well, boy/girl was I wrong.  I look back at it now and say, “Why did I wait so long.”  Well, I don’t always like to look back, so I said, “I’m going to do my due diligence, see what it’s all about again, and give it a try – take a risk.”  I am so glad I did.

Have you ever been in a situation where you were looking for a business and/or a business partner?  When I contacted this dear family of mine, they didn’t say right away, “Absolutely, come right on in and join, we really need someone like you!”  It was more along the lines of, “Here, try some of the products, take a look at the business plan, evaluate it on your own terms and then get back to us when you have time in your schedule.”  That’s exactly what I did – for about three months.  

Yes, it took me three months to evaluate the business plan. I wanted to make sure it was the real deal, the cream of the crop, the gung hoe I was looking for, and it had to be a right fit for me and my family. For any company that I’ve ever worked for, I had to believe in the product(s). Some products sell themselves. Just like when I worked at Apple. I didn’t say, “Hey, come on in and buy this product.” Most consumers already know what they wanted to buy. I was the person who needed to ensure they were getting the best product for what they needed it for, not just sell them anything I wanted them to have just to make a buck. This isn’t like that either. The products do sell themselves. They are geared toward nutrition and wellness. They also sell through partner sites (keep reading…).

For three months I did my due diligence – tried the products, had my kids try some of the products, read about the products, ordered some of the products, tested the products, read more about the products, and low and behold, I was hooked!  At the time I was a preferred customer at no cost.  I used the time to purchase whatever products I wanted, when I wanted, on my own terms.  I used the shop.com portal.  I was shopping, and my shopping consultant was making money at the same time I was earning cash back. I was also surprised to see that I could shop on every other partners store they were affiliated with (Walmart, Home Depot, BedBathBeyond, Norstrom Rack, Macy’s, etc). 

You name it, they had it.  I was purchasing things through Walmart (produced I normally purchase on a weekly basis, and getting cash back)! I also bought merchandise at Macy’s and BedBathBeyond.  What was great about these purchases?  I could go onto the partner site, log right into my account, put items in my cart, use my store credit card to earn points, choose deliver to store or ship for free (especially since I was a preferred customer at the partner site), and earn cash back.  No brainer!!!!!  It was easy!

When I joined in November, this was my opportunity to test the waters. I was getting ready for Christmas shopping. I literally did all my Christmas shopping on the site. I was able to shop at my partner shops, have the products delivered right to my door and earn money at the same time. Now it is March, and I am doing the same thing still – shopping on line!! Just the other day, my husband said he needed a set of tires for his car.  I went on to the portal (shop.com/lisagentileMEd), went to the partner site (Walmart), logged into my Walmart account, searched the item, clicked on the item, purchased the item, used my credit card to earn 5% off, and received Business Volume for my business. Just like that! In a matter of months I was a preferred customer getting cash back to becoming an Unfranchise Owner.

If I were still a preferred customer I would have received cash back. My daughter does that because she is one of my preferred customers. Just like Walmart, Macy’s and BBB have preferred customers, I have several preferred customers since I own the Unfranchise business. Now that I am an Unfranchise Owner, I earn Business Volume and Internet Business Volume. This is supplemental income I earn on the things other people purchase and also on what I purchase. Isn’t that what the big companies do. They earn money on what people purchase?

This has been especially helpful during COVID. Online marketplaces are making billions of dollars. I asked, “Why can’t I be part of this multi billion dollar industry?” I took my chance to hop on board this train, and I am glad I did.  There is no going back from there.  The business plan offered me the information I needed to know that this was a no brainer.  First and foremost – people helping people.  The parent company does and has everything you need to succeed. I asked myself too, “Why set yourself up for failure by opening a Franchise and/or a business during these unexpected times. Don’t get me wrong, I love walking into a store, especially and local store and supporting those business owners too, but this business gives me the flexibility of working my 9-5 teaching job, at the same time, getting the nutrition I need, helping my family and staying healthy while earning a supplemental income.

In addition, I was also able to do comparative shopping right on the site, get price alerts through another APP called Shop Buddy, and  shop for brand name products right from the comfort of my home

What’s great about this too is, there is a plan. It’s not the normal 45 year plan that I was told I needed to follow. Work a good job that pays insurance and benefits. This plan is a 3-year plan. A plan anyone can do if they are willing to commit 18 hours a week. If you are out there and you are interested you should check it out. No pressures, just be a preferred customer and do your own due diligence first. If you like what you see and hear, GIVE IT A TRY!!

I shop, you shop, we all shop!

You save money, I save money, we all make money!

PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


2021 World Conference has come and gone!

This was first Market America Conference! Even though we couldn’t physically be there, I was stoked to be part of this amazing family of business owners. I was so excited! When I unboxed my conference package, I was so pleased to see all the great goodies.

I tried the Isotonix Immune and the Isotonix Vitamins D with K2 (check out the links below to learn more about these products). You can also go to shop.com/lisagentileMEd.


Plant based BLT

One of my fondest memories working Downtown Boston was going to Dewey Square to get a sandwich from Clover. It was when the food truck first started in Boston. I fell in love with their BLT, while my friend would get this sandwich that had picked cabbage and pimento cheese. The sandwich I was addicted to came in a small pita pouch with tempeh smokey bacon, sliced tomatoes and green leaf lettuce. It had been a long time after that when I had run into a Clover in Cambridge. Back when my daughter was taking classes to become a DJ. I happened upon it one night while I was driving to pick her up. Same sandwich, hadn’t changed. I was so excited. Now that I don’t travel so much I figured I would make my own.

I toasted two slices of Iggy’s Slice Francese, sautés bacon tempeh in a little coconut oil, and sliced some radicchio and romaine lettuce. I threw a little sauerkraut in with the shredded lettuce. I just had this taste I was going for and knew all the flavors would meld together once it was all together.

Building the sandwich:

One slice of toasted Francese bread, slather with vegan caesar dressing, place sauerkraut, shredded radicchio and romaine lettuce next. Then, top that off with 3 slices of tempeh smokey bacon, a little more vegan caesar dressing, some tomato, and another slice of toasted Francese. I threw it on the grill for a few minutes to heat everything up inside, plate it, slice it. Once I took a bite of it, I was amazed at the blend of flavors. With the bitterness of the radicchio, sour of the sauerkraut, the tang of the vegan caesar dressing, and the right blend of smoke from the tempeh bacon! Bang! In addition, the Francese bread has a little sour dough taste to it, so that made the flavors meld even more. Boom!

Tempeh smokey bacon BLT – Plant based!

My son came into the room just as I was finishing my last bite. He asked me if he could try it. Of course I said yes! I took one last small bite and then gave him the rest. Minus the tomato slice, he was satisfied too!

NOTE: I did find that I needed to toast the bread a lot so it was stiff, otherwise with the dressing and sauerkraut mixture, it would get soggy right away.


Sweetheart Sugar Cookies – for any occasion or anyone on your list

Who says sugar heart cookies have to be for Valentine’s Day. Isn’t everyone in love with someone. It doesn’t have to be just a boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse. You can love anyone you want. If you love someone, why not show it with sweetheart sugar cookies.

Ready to Bake!

First step – supplies and ingredients: baking sheets, parchment paper, rolling pin, extra flour for rolling, cooling rack, measure cups and spoons, flour sifter and/or colander for sifting (I’ll show you how), heart cookie cutter (the amount of cookies you yield will depend on the size of the cookie cutter. This cutter was about 1 1/2 inches.

This made 48 really thin and crunchy sugar cookies.

1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)

1 cup sugar

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (meaning, you have to sift it and then measure)

1/4 teaspoons of sale (if you happen to only have salted butter, you don’t need this)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder (I prefer to use aluminum free)

1 large egg, lightly beaten (meaning, just wish it with a fork two or three times)

2 tablespoons orange juice or lemon juice, depending on what taste you want. If you don’t want the citrus flavor, use water)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (I prefer to use the real stuff, not imitation)

1/4 confectioners sugar.

Instructions: cream the butter and the sugar. sift together the dry ingredients; add to the butter mixture and beat well. Add the egg, orange juice, and vanilla. Beat again until well mixed. Shape the dough into three flattened round, wrap with clear plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1/2 hour. Preheat over to 350 degrees F, 325 if you have a convection oven. Line baking sheets.

On a well floured board, or countertop (I like to use my granite island since it’s nice and cold, and as long as it is cleaned off thoroughly, its fine to work on) roll out the dough until it is 1/3 inch thick. Cut into shapes and set on cookie sheet – well enough apart so that they don’t cook together (I usually give it about an inch, but then risk it if I want to back in less intervals).

Well floured surface

Bake for 10 minutes. I found that with my 350 degree temp on my convection oven they took about 7 minutes to bake. So, without the convention, I would say 9 – 10 minutes. If they start to smell, they are done (also, don’t let them brown on the sides. if slightly browned, they will just be crunchier. Let them sit on the cookie sheet for about 1 minute before transferring them onto a cookie cooling tray. I use my mini spatula for this. Let cool.

I bought these little boxes at Michael’s; they come flat, you have to fold them (really easy). Perfect fit for the size cookie (1/2 dozen in each box).

Mix some confectioners sugar with a little orange juice or lemon, depending on what flavor you like. Spread over cookies and add decorations. You can also make up different colors of confectioners sugar to decorate your cookies with.

I used the leftover dough for cookie press cookies. You can use the any leftover dough once more before it starts to get sticky and/or too soft. to work with. If you refrigerate it again, you can roll it out and cut more cookies. This only takes more of your time. If you don’t have the time, you can refrigerate it and come back to it the next day – just roll out and cut from it again. I just like to cookie press it so I don’t have to roll it again. When using the cookie press, you can’t press on parchment. I transferred the cookies onto the parchment after pressing, using my small serving spatula.


Post Valentine’s Day – Lamb chops, Asparagus, Salmon, and chocolate covered strawberries.

I know I had reposted my chocolate covered strawberries from a few years back. I told you I would repost – this time the same idea, but with different chocolate. I used dark chocolate sugar free chocolate morsels this time. I wanted to see how the chocolate would melt and look with the strawberries. Well, to my surprise, they came out really well.

After washing the strawberries, I dried them off really well. Took a small prep cup with chocolate morsels and placed it in the microwave. Normally, I would have used my double boiler for melting the chocolates, however I was just dipping enough for me and my daughter. My son loves strawberries, but not dipped in chocolate, and my husband doesn’t like strawberries at all. WOH!!

What I found was, melting in the microwave, you really have to keep an eye on how much time. It took about 30 – 40 seconds to melt 1/2 cup morsels. After I took them out, the chocolate felt like it was about to seize, so I quickly added what was on hand (butter). I put about 1/2 tablespoon of butter and quickly stirred until it was nice and creamy. Normally I add a little oil to the chocolate (especially in a double boiler). This is what helps it keep it’s shine without blooming.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Desserts always first, right!!!

Next came a couple of different meals. Just pleasing to the smell and the eye. There were so many different things I could make, but these were the favorites: I don’t like lamb chops, but the hubby and the son certainly do. My daughter and I had the salmon. The same was cooked in the air fryer with some herbs and spices, along with the asparagus – just crunchy enough to savor all the flavor of the asparagus. I made homemade tabouli with fresh parsley (thanks to my Misfits order), red pepper, and red onion. It was delightful!


Stone Ground Oatmeal!

I did it! I ate oatmeal. When I was little I was a huge fan of cold cereal. I was quick, inexpensive, and easy to make. My father would buy Shredded Wheat, Cheerios, or Corn Flakes. He didn’t buy much cereal that had all the sugar in it. I remember trying oatmeal once and didn’t like it. I didn’t like the texture or the color – everything about it turned me off.

As an adult, I still don’t like it. Well, up until now. A friend of mine makes it all the time. It’s a staple in their home. They add blueberries, chia seeds, hemp hearts, cocoa nibs, goji berries, peanut butter, and anything they have on hand that is a non-milk product. They pop it in the microwave for a minute, and eat it. It looks delicious watching them make it, but the thought of mushy oatmeal just doesn’t appease me.

Then I thought, why not take all those ingredients and blend them together into a bar. Eliminating the blueberries and the peanut butter, I added a little maple syrup and ground everything with almonds instead of peanut butter. The only other difference was the oats. I used stone ground oatmeal instead. I had to cook it first and then added it to the blend. The bars came out really well.

I saw another video with their daughter making this same concoction – oatmeal bowl again!! This time, I said, “I’m gonna do it!” It looks so tasty, but I knew I won’t like the mushy oatmeal. I grabbed my stone ground oatmeal, cooked a half a cup stone ground oatmeal with one cup of water. I let is sit inside the fridge until it was cold. I added fresh blueberries and slices of mandarin oranges to it, a little maple syrup, some chia seeds, and hemp hearts, goji berries, and a tablespoon of crunch almond butter. I didn’t put any almond milk in it, but could have. Best oatmeal I’ve ever had. It was crunchy, nutty, hearty, flavorful and just the right blend of everything. Try it!!


Creamy Potato Soup

Every year for the past several years we receive a gift card from a very dear friend who lives in Florida. Last year we drove to the restaurant to find that it had closed (CARRABBAS Italian Restuarant). Luckily, it was the type of gift card that worked at an affiliated restaurant OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE. This year, we received another gift card, but with COVID, my husband is still apprehensive about going and sitting inside, so we decided to order take out. The nearest restaurant is about a 30 minute drive. I placed the order over the phone – my husband left the house just as I was ordering so that it would be hot when he got it home.

I usually order the grass fed beef burger, but they no longer had it on the menu, so the only thing on the menu I was interested in was the potato soup. I ordered a porterhouse steak for my husband, a hamburger for my son, and Mac n Cheese for my daughter. Well, he came home with the order. After going through all the food and making sure everything was there, it was apparent they forgot to add the potato soup to the bag.

Ever since then, I kept thinking about potato soup. When I arrived home from an errand today, my Misfits box was on my front steps. I was very excited when I opened the box because there were russet potatoes in the box. Oh boy! I immediately peeled them, cut them, gather the other ingredients that were in the book I received with my cooking blender. Yes, this blender puree’s and cooks the soup all in one.

Things you will need: Potato, onion, garlic, carrot, celery, vegetable stock. Blender.

If you don’t have this blender, then you can throw everything in a dutch over and cook until the potatoes are cooked (fork goes through easily). Once everything is cooked, you can place everything in a blender – be careful because it is hot. You may need to cool it down before putting the top on the blender and blending. The heat from the liquid will cause the blender to explode its contents. ‘

If using this special blender, cut the potato into pieces, pour the water and 2 tsp vegetable base into blender, toss in the potato, garlic, carrot, celery stalk. Put the top on the blender, turn dial to soup, it will cook in 30 minutes. Serve with thyme! You can add pepper if you would like

Ingredients:

1 russet potato, peeled, cut into 1 inch size pieces

2 1/2 cups water

2 tsp vegetable base

4 tablespoons of butter or vegan butter

1 medium onion (cut in quarters)

2 garlic cloves peeled and cut in half (whole if you are using the special blender)

1 carrot peeled and cut into Inch size pieces (cut in half if you are using the special blender)

1 celery stalk cut into pieces (cut in half if you are using the special blender)

(you can add cheddar cheese, bacon or broccoli to this soup too!)


Vanilla Banana Crepes with Cinnamon Apple Pieces

While on a business call, this recipe came up. Since I have some TLS Vanilla on hand, it was the perfect start to a well developed recipe. Most of the time someone comes up with a recipe and you have to go to the market to buy all the ingredients. Well for me, this wasn’t the case. If you don’t have the TLS Vanilla and/or Pumpkin mix, you can go here to find it.

What you need: non stick pan or crepe pan, baking spatula, spatula for cooking, coconut oil, apple, cinnamon, swerve sugar (if KETO), TLS vanilla powder, egg, banana, plate for serving. You can line the crepes with parchment paper so they don’t stick to each other.

Ingredients:

TLS Vanilla powder

1 egg

1 medium banana

What I found with this is you can mix it all with a hand mixer or spatula.

Instructions:

Mash the banana with the 2 scoops of TLS vanilla powder. Beat the egg in a cup – add it to the mashed banana and powder.

If you have a non stick pan, you can coat it with a little coconut oil – it may separate, but that is okay. I have a crepe pan I use, only because I find it easier to flip the crepes.

Once the pan is hot enough (you want it hot enough to cook quick, but not enough to burn the batter), pour a scoop of the batter on the pan and move the pan around in a circular motion so the batter will spread to the edges. If it doesn’t do it by itself, take the back of a spoon and spread it around yourself. Once the crepe starts to bubble, it is time to flip. You can use a spatula for this process so you don’t break the crepe.


Pizza: figs, fig jam, arugula, prosciutto, and goat cheese over cauliflower crust (YUMMINESS!!)

My daughter pulled my frozen cauliflower pizza out of the freezer today and asked me if she could make it. I continued to suggest she use the fig spread, arugula, prosciutto and goat cheese we had in the fridge. I love that she is venturing into trying new things on her own. She said, “Mom, shouldn’t I cook the pizza first before I put the spread on – this way it won’t be too soggy.” Girl, was I thrilled!! As I continued to smell the aromas coming from the kitchen, I smiled. I was so proud of her – she made a master piece. She cooked the crust just right – it wasn’t soggy at all! She cooked the prosciutto on the stove – lightly cooked to bring out the salty flavor (not crispy). Then spread the fig jam over the crust, dropped a mound of arugula, topped it off with the prosciutto, and dollops of goat cheese, which melted over the hot crust. Once this was done, a drizzle of a balsamic fig vinegar – superb! The arugula slightly wilted just in time to take a bite!

The picture was taken about a month ago – this was the pizza I made with figs I roasted. I used the reserve to make the fig jam (which is what she used today).


Figuring Things Out – Breakfast Decisions

Have you ever looked at your weight, your lifestyle changes (“diets”), or what you’re eating on a daily basis. There are days when I feel I need carbs, carbs, and more carbs after a long stressful day. There are other days I feel satisfied with a salad and some protein for dinner. What’s the secret? Is there a secret?

To start the day, I usually have a glass of water. I always feel dehydrated after a good night sleep. I contemplate what it is I feel like having for breakfast since I am not one to schedule my meals on the weekends. Weekdays, I usually have a couple of options, but weekends, I like to be free to choose what and when. Today was a no-brainer. I immediately thought, “toast and almond butter with my No Buzz Buzz decaf coffee.” I bought a loaf of Sprouted Power bread about a week ago, and am only half way through the loaf!!!! I guess that’s a good thing, especially when each piece has 18 grams of carbs – 4 grams dietary fiber (14 grams carbs all together), and only 1 gram of sugar (Yay!).

Then, I thought, I have a craving for PB&J toast. Oh, no, no, no, no. Well, I’ve tried the less sugar fruit spreads (don’t like them – too watery). The Concord grape jam is my go to choice. However, it has too much sugar. I thought for a moment while taking a bite from the toast I had spread with a tablespoon of almond butter. Then my mind started racing, “Apples, Bananas!” No, No, No – still too much sugar. Then it dawned on me. “Why not sprinkle a little Swerve and some cinnamon on top!!” This was it – it was all I needed to get me through this morning – deciding on a “right choice.” I’m going to put this on my list of breakfast options.

List of breakfast options – What!! Yes, add it to a list you can keep on the refrigerator. Who has time to open their phone in the morning, look up the app and scroll through breakfast items. Again, some days I just want an option to choose.

Tell me about your options in the morning. I’d love to hear them.


Bar Pan

When I was first introduced to Pampered Chef in 2012, this was one of the first things I purchased. Back then it was a rectangle, not the shape it is today. I went through two of them between 2012 and now. I used them so much, with high temperature (higher than recommended) causing the corners to break off. Low and behold, since it was under warranty, Pampered Chef sent me another one free of charge. When you purchase from PC, make sure you look at the warranty years. All I kept saying was, “what if I bought a similar pan from a department store.” I wouldn’t have gotten a warranty with it. Most manufacturer warranties are 90 days, if nothing at all.

I love that PC added the the little lip on the front. When I use the bake setting in my Air Fryer, It fits perfectly, and keeps food nice and crisp. I can an individual pizza on it and the bottom stays nice and crisp too. Best thing I ever bought!


Home for the Holidays!

It’s Christmas Day now! Last night we enjoyed a lovely seven fish family dinner today. Traditionally, we go over my brother and sister-in-laws, but this year with COVID we stayed home. These days, we are still be extra careful, especially since transmissions have risen, even amongst families. We ate really early today since my daughter had to work, so I was up very early. Once dinner was prepared and finished, I sat down, fell asleep, and woke up three hours later. Oh My!

Well, I had enough energy to challenge myself to bake two loaf breads and set up for a Facebook Live video First, I’ll talk about our Christmas Eve dinner, baking loaves and then our Christmas Day dinner. What was on the Christmas Eve menu:

Seven Fishes: This is a tradition in my husband’s family.

For the seven fishes I put together, muscles dijonnaise, scallops wrapped in bacon, shrimp, lobster, squid, haddock, and salmon. We also had Turner’s favorite stuffed clams and oysters Rockefeller. I made a red sauce for the lobster pieces, salted the salmon, steamed the muscles, baked the scallops wrapped in bacon, served shrimp cocktail with homemade dipping sauce, fried calamari, and baked haddock. A little something for everyone. My daughter and I can’t eat shellfish since we are allergic, so the lobster and the shrimp were for my husband. I didn’t realize until today that my younger son likes lobster. My husband doesn’t like salmon, so the more for me, my son, and my daughter. My daughter thinks she’s allergic to anything that has a shell because she had a bad reaction to clam chowder when she was little, so she a little apprehensive to eating the stuffed clams, oyster’s Rockefeller. The only one who eats the muscles are me, so I have them for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This isn’t something my brother and sister-in-law usually have, so it was a treat for me to cook what we all enjoy. I cooked the angle hair pasta ahead of time, and also simmered cream with basil for the pasta. We started with a caesar salad and went from there. Dessert was simple and easy (fresh strawberries, kiwis, and small vanilla cupcakes. I bought some lemon bars from one of my favorite stores (Trader Joe’s). Anything here, that shows a link will have a recipe.

Seven Fish Platter (muscles, salmon, squid scallops and bacon, haddock, shrimp, lobster). (Stuffed clams and Oysters Rockefeller)

After my long needed nap, I ran a Facebook Live session and talked about The Lavender Farm in Harwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I use this lavender, hibiscus mix to make lavender hibiscus lemonade. The recipe is right on the package. The first time I made it, it was really strong, so I diluted it a little more than the package says. The second time I used my judgement and my own taste to make it the way I wanted. I also added sliced orange pieces to make it festive looking. It’s also a great addition to a white wine or seltzer water with an extra slice of lemon, lime or orange. Then, I baked a cranberry walnut bread I haven’t made in years, and my daughter came in just in time to help me with the banana bread recipe.

The cranberry bread recipe I lost. It was in a metal container I brought over from our apartment to our house in 1993. When we had our kitchen remodeled, I put some boxes down in the basement and completely forgot where the container was. I found it recently, and was so excited because it has recipes from when I was first on my own and collected over the years. The bread recipe was from the Boston Globe Magazine – this dates back a while! It was listed under Home For The Holidays. The back of the receipt page talks about tea parties they used to have at the Harborview Lounge in the Boston Harbor Hotel every Sunday afternoon in the month of December. The recipe is worn, has food stains all over it, and it ripped on one side. It also has listed “Martha Starke’s family recipe). Maybe she was the real Martha Stewart of those days. I wonder if she is still alive. I tried to Google it, to no avail, nothing was listed.

If you’ve gotten to the bottom of this post and haven’t seen any links to the recipes, I am still working on them. Thank you for visiting. If you have subscribed, you will get a notification when the recipe is posted.


Chewy Molasses Cookies

This recipe came from a Good Housekeeping cookbook I bought when I was first living on my own. It was alike a cooking encyclopedia. It has anything and everything from soup to nuts. Well, these cookies call for shortening and granulated sugar. I swapped the granulated sugar for confectioners sugar (same amount), and butter instead of shortening (same amount). The difference between the two swaps was the texture and the look of the cookies. After setting the cookies on the cookie sheets, I put them in the freezer for about 5 minutes, then baked them for 8 minutes. The images shows the cookies with the confectioner’s sugar.

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
  • 1/2 cup dark molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cold water.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients all in the same bowl, mixing well. Once everything is mixed, using an ice cream scoop, scoop dough into 1 inch balls. Dip balls into confectioner sugar and place onto cookie sheet 12 at a time. Place in freezer for 5 minutes, then bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.


Family Pizza Night

Ingredients

Pizza Night fixings (using one cup serving bowls, gather onions, peppers, mushrooms, olives, cheese, sausage, pepperoni (or any other fixing your hear desires).

2 servings if you have a 12″ cast iron skillet

4 SERVINGS with small serving cast iron skillets

12 oz. store-bought pizza dough (divided 4 oz. each), room temperature (You may need more depending on the size of your family).

5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided (1Tbsp., 1Tbsp., 2Tbsp, 1Tbsp. – see below)

8oz. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed

Kosher salt

⅓ cup prepared marinara

¾ cup coarsely grated low-moisture mozzarella (more if you like cheesy)

3 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced

Crushed red pepper flakes and torn basil leaves (for serving) (optional)

Dried herbs can be used in place of fresh (oregano, basil, pepper, etc).

Preparation

Step 1

Place a rack in top-most position of oven; preheat to 475°. Place dough on a work surface; drizzle with 1 Tbsp. oil, turning to coat. Stretch out to a 6″ round and cover loosely with plastic wrap (larger if using larger skillet). Run over dough with pizza dough docker (or tings on fork).

Step 2

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium. Cook sausage ahead of time, breaking up into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned in spots and cooked though, 5–8 minutes. Transfer sausage to a small bowl.

Step 3

Roll dough to designed width for skillet.  Remove skillet from heat and carefully lay dough inside (use a wooden spoon to spread dough to the outer edges of the pan (may be hot). Season with salt, then spread marinara over entire surface of dough. Top with mozzarella, then any other fixings you want. Drizzle with another 2 Tbsp. oil. Peek underneath the crust—the bottom should be golden brown and crisp from residual heat in the skillet. If it’s not, set over medium-low heat on stove and cook until crust is golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Step 4

Transfer skillet to oven and bake pizza on top rack until crust is golden brown around the edges and cheese is browned in spots and bubbling all over, 8-10 minutes. (May take less time or more time depending on the calibration of your stove).  Let cool 2 minutes, then top with red pepper flakes and basil. Sprinkle with more salt and drizzle with remaining 1 Tbsp. oil.

There are so many other alternatives to making pizza. Reach out to me and I’ll let you know. For instance, I use a pizza stone for bigger pizzas, along with my cast iron (especially if I am cooking more than one pie in my convection oven).

https://img.shop.com/Image/240000/243400/243406/products/1470096985.jpg


DETOX

It’s been a hellish of a week on DETOX! When I started the regimen, I thought, “Great, I have a three day weekend to start and then I’ll finish really strong during the week. when I get back to my regular routine at school.” Boy was a wrong. Afterthought: How to make the best of a DETOX when working and eating with others who aren’t on the program. Health first, clean refrigerator and cabinets, organize daily meal plan, go shopping, prepare for meals, cook meals, stay committed! Make it work! What I would change.

Health, Mind and Body First – Most programs first, tell you to consult a doctor. Well, my yearly physical was cleared, so that wasn’t an issue. The next thing was clearing out the fridge and making sure I had everything I needed for the week in order to commit to this thing (DETOX). It wasn’t easy because mostly everything in “my drawer” in the fridge is cheese. No cheese for a week, or maybe longer, Oh My! Although most programs tell you to get rid of a lot of things in the cabinets, I didn’t really clean out the cabinets. Since there are three other people in the house that cook other types of foods they like to eat, I couldn’t really do that to them. Being mindful of others in this case is really important. Afterthought: Not everyone needs to do what I need to do when it comes to a lifestyle change, and I shouldn’t expect them to. We don’t all eat the same types of foods, so why would that be necessary and/or right.

Daily Meal Plans – Next, it was about planning meals. Well, since there are three other people in the house, I wasn’t just panning for myself. My daughter is trying plant based (my son already did a while back, but it became unhealthy (in a way) for him – a story for another time). They are very independent when it comes to their meal planning, so that helps a lot. My daughter cooks a lot of her own food. My son usually hops on the our band wagon, and eats what he likes of what we cook. My husband is the same. He will eat whatever I cook. He’ll cook his vegetable, if it’s not the same as mine. He doesn’t like all the vegetables I like (Swiss chard, kale, cauliflower, zucchini, etc.). Green beans are something we both like, so I cook those a lot, even though it can get boring after a while. So meal planning can be a little more difficult on a lifestyle change. How to make it work. Afterthought: I think that a DETOX is great for single people, maybe even couples who are on the same page with their regimen. I don’t think everyone has to be on the same regimen, but it does help. So, meal planning 101 – keep it simple.

DETOX calls for a lot of little meals (Breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, evening snack).

Daily meal plans continued… DETOX regimen. Breakfast (vegetable protein, fruit). Morning Snack (fruit). DETOX regimen. Lunch (vegetables). Midday snack (vegetables). DETOX regimen. Dinner (vegetables, protein). Evening snack (vegetables). Afterthought: You really have to love vegetables! Be creative, but keep it simple. I set up my meal plans so I could at least make a few things ahead of time. Trying to keep it simple, I tried to meal plan the same things my family would eat, just not with starches and dairy. The vegetables were the hardest since they don’t eat the same. These meals were double duty.

Breakfast: using coconut oil to coat the pan, saute spinach with spices (garlic salt, thyme, salt and pepper), wilt and crack an egg on top, spread out the yolk, then flip. using coconut oil to coat the pan, saute peppers, onions, crack and egg over and then flip. I tried to have hard boiled egg, avocado, and tomato one morning, but the avocado I bought wasn’t ripe enough. Hopefully it will be ripe enough by the end of. the week.

Snacks: fruit cups: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries. Pears, apples, kiwi, and bananas. I found that I needed to eat the fruit cups at the beginning of the week (berries don’t last more than three days). Most coffee shops and groceries have pre-made fruit cups.

Lunch: Back to salads. Luckily, I had my vinegar vegetables of carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, and peppers pre-made. I try different lettuces (romaine, arugula, spinach, green leaf). Mix it up! I also add a few olives, oil and vinegar with lemon and herbs for dressing.

Dinner: Always a hearty vegetable (Swiss chard, broccoli rabe, baby broccoli, broccoli florets, cauliflower). These were the main veggies. Chicken soup, chicken thighs, chicken wings, filet, salmon, scallops, turkey naked tacos.

Grocery Shopping: When grocery shopping (never go when you are hungry, or when you are shopping for other people who eat bread, pasta, chips, etc.). I think this was the hardest part. Even though I don’t eat a lot of bread, chips, or pasta during the week, it looked enticing. I also found I shopped for more than what I needed for the week. Afterthought: Once I brought everting home I realized I could do two shopping trips during the week – this way things wouldn’t go bad (mainly fruit and vegetables). I find there are some vegetables that don’t last 7 days in the fridge (spinach and some lettuces).

Preparing the meals. Breakfast was prepared before work. The morning regimen I found to be the most difficult at first, but it kept getting easier during the week. Harder on the weekend, since I like to sleep in and catch up on my sleep from the week. I wake up around 5:30, 5:45, and sometimes 6:00 before work since I only drive 10 minutes to work. I have to preset my clock for the same time every day if I wanted this to work. One day I fell back asleep and woke up way beyond my regular time, but I still had enough time to follow the same regimen. Lunch I would make the night before. I bought these great containers from the store that measure two cups and also carry salads nicely. I have a lot of other containers in the house, but wanted to use containers that will always fit my lunch box, at the same time measure the food I was intaking. Dinners were easy as long as I took the meat and/or or fish out of the freezer the day before and thawed it. Salmon with guacamole, chicken soup with carrots, celery and onions, sausage with broccoli robe, filet with baby broccoli, saute chicken over salad.

Staying committed: Remember when I talked about the willpower. Well, I did really well this week. However, it wasn’t until Thursday that all things started to turn corners. In my job as a teacher, I found it really hard to stay on the regimen at school, especially since I would need to take a series of vegetable tablets thirty minutes to a forty-five minutes before each big meal. At work, setting my alarm helped, but I could’t always get away if I were in the middle of teaching a class, Even drinking water fell short by the end of the week. At times, I became so busy, I forgot to drink water during the day. I still have two more days. I will come back to let you know how much I lost.

Obstacles and Temptations!Monday was a holiday. Like I said, I started on a Sunday. I wish I had started on Saturday. It’s one of those things – MINDSET – you have to be ready. Saturday was hard because I was doing a lot of errands, I hadn’t gone grocery shopping, I knew I had a long weekend, so I postponed it for one day. I think that makes all the difference some times. Now, I had to get through the week and include Saturday in the 7-Day DETOX. Tuesday, back and school and one of the Instructional Assistance comes into the room with a box of donuts. They sure did look enticing, however I didn’t go for them. I keep to my regimen. The hardest part was sitting down to have a snack at 9:45 (that’s when the kiddo’s have their snack). However, trying to get read for Math shortened my snack break (half snack eaten). Then, remembering to set my alarm for 11:00 so I could take my 2 tablets thirty to forty-five minutes before my lunch. Well, the alarm went off, and I couldn’t get to the tablets and water, so I took them a little later. Then that prolonged the time to eat my lunch and I had to rush to eat my lunch before the next class. Oh BOY! This is getting harder. Wednesday/Thursday was a little easier. I think because I learned from what I couldn’t do on Tuesday. Everything went well this day until I got home that night. A friend gave me an eggplant. I love eggplant, but only two ways. Baba ghanoush style and eggplant Parmesan. Well, the DETOX calls for no cheese and/or tahini, but I didn’t want something to go bad that was perfectly good, and given to me. So I put it to the test. I used panic bread crumbs, almond milk, and an egg to coat. I used parmesan cheese to layer. I shared it with my husband and three other co-workers. It was really good – I did try to scrape most of the batter off when I ate it, but figured the amount I was eating wasn’t going to alter too much for the week. That was Thursday lunch. I ended up taking my daughter out for her birthday and had a sirloin with spinach for dinner.

Friday was the hardest. No will power. After a very long week at school (although stress levels weren’t that high, I felt the need for carbs). This is where it gets tough. My body feels like it needs more than just vegetables and fruit. So, how do you go from eating all the healthy stuff all week and come to craving other things. Is it really mind over matter? It is about MINDSET? Do we need to add an element of survival to our regimen? Should we have a coach who can help us and talk us through the tough times? It was hard. A free meal from parents who took the time and spent the money to make us happy on Friday made it hard to resist. I was tired from dinner out the night before, and didn’t pre-make my salad. I slept later on Friday morning; later than I normally do, so did’t have time to make it in the morning. I still made my egg with spinach though. For lunch we had catered sandwiches with chips and pasta salad. Well, I only ate the vegetables in the past salad, but had to have the chicken salad and chips. Was this going to derail the entire process of DETOX?

Saturday/Sunday: I am back on tomorrow and Sunday, so I’ll see by Monday what my weight is and continue the regimen next week. The best part of this though, is I don’t have to carry on the same morning regimen the first seven days involved.

Let me know your thoughts about DETOX?


Here we go again! Lifestyle change! I’m excited!

How many times have you had a lifestyle change? Should the question be, how many diets have you been on? Like I said in a previous post, I don’t believe in the word “diet”. For me, it’s about living a healthier lifestyle. With a new position at work, and a new daily schedule, I can see where I need to focus when it comes to meal planning. At home, it’s about balancing all the newness and deciding what I need to prioritize for things to fall betting in place. It’s also about acquiring the proper kitchen tools in order to balance meal planning.

We get so caught up in our daily lives, it’s hard. to focus on what’s good for us and what’s not so good for us. I definitely know I am an emotional eater. When I get stressed, I tend to sit and eat. Yes, sitting and eating is a good thing to do at 5:00, 6:00 or even 7:00 at night. However, sitting and eating on the couch at 9:00, 10:00, and even 11:00 (yes, even. 11:00) at night is not a good thing, especially when we’re supposed to be getting a full nights sleep. Well, some people will say, “I work a third shift, so what does that mean for me?” “I work a second shift, so what does that mean for me?”. I totally understand; I’ve been there (yes, working all hours of the day, afternoon and evening, working two or three jobs. We’ve all been somewhere in our lives where we haven’t had the time to eat more healthy. I even go to the extent of blaming it on what I have to feed my children and/or my husband. I sometimes feel guilty if what I’m eating they don’t like, so they have to sort of “fend for themselves”. How many of you have been in that predicament?

Well, my last two lifestyle changes were with Forks & Knives and KETO. Although I did really great with both, it was a lot of planning because the KETO plan lets you eat everything except grains and pasta specifically. My husband is Italian, so the pasta wasn’t the issue, it was the extra 40 minutes to boil the water, sauté, and flavor. Forks & Knives was legumes and rice. Well, my husband doesn’t like legumes at all, so again, it was determining what else we would be having with our meal to satisfy him. Two totally different approaches. For me it’s all about compromise and adjusting for both of us, and/or all of us (the entire family – especially with adult kids still in the household). We all have different lifestyles. That’s why it’s important for me to not only think about myself, but to think about those around me too.

Timing is everything!! Isn’t that what most say. Well, time in the kitchen is sacred, but not for hours at a time. At least not when you have to work more than one job or long hours. Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking. It can can be therapy for me (just like washing the dishes). I really have to be in the mood. Also, I’m fortunate that my husband picks up some of the cooking nights, especially if I’m working late. He also empties and fills the dishwasher. This give me the opportunity to have a clean kitchen to cook in and have everything accessible to cook with.

Back to Forks & Knives and KETO. I lost weight with both, but found I had to exercise more with the Forks & Knives regime. I really did enjoy the KETO, mainly because I could eat fats and cheeses. Cheese is one of my favorite things!!

Well, now I’m on another regime (lifestyle change). I’m not going to tell you the name of it until I know it’s going to work. I am going to post my daily regime and meals on my page, so you can see what’s in store if you decide you want to hop on the bandwagon later on. I still have to think about my meal plans. I feel this is the more difficult part of changing your lifestyle, more than anything else. Like anything else with me, it’s mind over matter. I also hope that this will allow you to follow the regime (when you decide to hop on the bandwagon), so it will be easier for you to decide what to eat and when, or be able to come up with your own ideas. Isn’t that what it’s all about.

Why am I telling you this? I think it’s more, me having to convince myself that change is good and this time I’d like it to work. Not that it didn’t work the other times, there just became a point where it got easier to start eating what everyone else was eating because it was easier than having to worry about what it was I was going to cook for the week (I’m mainly talking about take out – pizza, pasta, rice bowls, etc.). I was even at one point ordering a pasta meal and just eating the broccoli and chicken. Then I got to the point where I would have just two bites of pasta, and that became more an more. I call that the source of mind over matter that doesn’t really succeed. This is something I’m still grasping, even after all these years. What is the alternative when you don’t have willpower?

I think we get into a specific mode with our eating habits. Either we condition ourselves to eat the same old/same old, or change it up so we don’t get board. Why is this so difficult? What do you do?

Write to me!!


Apple and Sweet Pepper Salsa

Have you ever been set to cook something you’d been thinking about all week and then changed your mind at the last minute. Well, that happened to me today. I was going to make a regular summer salsa, but thought, “summer is actually almost on its way out.” I was looking at the bowl of apples in the kitchen, and then went to the garden to see that my last harvest of tomatoes was long from turning red. Well, here came the thought of making apple salsa, rather than the traditional tomato salsa. Lo and behold, I didn’t know how it was going to taste because I’d never had anything like it before. May a mango salsa, but that’s a close to a sweet salsa I’ve come.

Here is what I did:

Cut and sliced two cups of apples, placing them in a cup with water and lemon juice (the lemon juice keeps the apples from growing). Apple brown when they hit the air. Quarter a red pepper and yellow pepper, slicing them about the same width and length as the apples (it yielded about 1 cup). Cut on jalepeno pepper in half, discarding the seeds and membrane, and slicking about the same width and length as the pepper. Quarter one medium onion, slicing the same width as the other vegetables. Placed all ingredients into the hand held mixer, chopping to desired size. Then add 1 tablespoon honey (amber unfiltered), 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, 3 tablespoons lime juice, and three sprigs of parsley.

Now for the tortilla chips or cups (scoops): Take a round tortilla, cut with a round cookie cutter, place tortilla in a cupcake pan, cooking for ten months on 350 degrees. Let set for a few minutes before removing from pan. I used small dishes I bought at Williams Sonoma. Chop all ingredients together to incorporate the wet ingredients.

Look what I found:

My husband made chicken thighs last night and we had some left over. I chopped up the chicken, took a tortilla shell, toasted in the over with cheddar cheese, laced the chopped chicken on top, and topped with apple salsa. What flavors melded together was amazing.


Apple Crisp

One of my favorite times of year is fall. I love the leaves turning colors, the cool air, and best of all, apple picking. We went to the farm. It was a little busy, so we picked apples and sunflowers, then continued on home to wash and dry the apples right away. A couple days later, I decided it was time to make something with apples. I chose this apple crisp recipe:

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and bake for 45 minutes. I found that convection with this recipe cooks the topping too fast and may burn it. I thought to put tin foil, but I wanted the topping to be crisp and not add any more liquid to the base. I used swerve white and brown sugar to cut down on the sugar content – still tastes the same.

Apple mixture: I placed 5 cups of apples (green tart), cored and cut in chunks) 1/2 cup white sugar (I used swerve), 1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, a pinch of ground cloves, 1/4 cup water into a 8 quart mixing bowl. After mixing everything together, I poured the ingredients into a 9 x 11 pyrex dish. I scraped the remains with my scraper to clear the bowl of any residue into the pyrex dish

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Topping: In the same bowl, I placed 1/2 cup quick cooking oats, 1/2 all purpose flour, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I used swerve), 1/8 teaspoon baking powder, 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 cup of butter, melted (I used vegan butter). Mix all together until ingredients come together.

Spread the topping over the apple mixture, then bake

(remember 350 degrees on bake, for 45 minutes).


One Massive Red Cabbage – Two Delicious Condiments

I was first introduced to picked red cabbage with a dear friend I worked with downtown. We would go to the food trucks during lunch. We were hooked when Clover came to town. It was their chickpea fritter sandwich for sure that hooked me on pickled red cabbage.

I was traveling last weekend – wanted to go see the ever so talked about sunflower fields at Colby Farms in Newbury, but they closed them down early. Instead of turning around and going home, I was curious to see what their little market had to offer. I hit the jackpot. Fresh vegetables just the way I liked them – full and abundant. From the fresh asparagus, which you could pick just the amount you wanted to. the packed lettuce (arugula, romaine, and spinach). I also came upon this massive red cabbage. All I could think of at that moment was the chickpea fritter sandwich at Clover.

Imagine eight of these. I had to cut the cabbage head into eight sections in order to shred it on my mandolin, it was so big.

As I continued through the store, I happened upon the refrigerated items. They carried applewood smoked bacon. Another one of my favorites. This brought to mind the BLT on ciabatta from the original Flour Bakery in Downtown Boston. My goodness – it was all coming back to me. All the great eateries – oh boy! This is something I really miss. (TIP: When cooking bacon, use parchment paper for a lining on a cookie sheet – this way you have no mess to clean up and pans to scrub).

Back to the cabbage: When I picked up the massive red cabbage, I said, “I could make pickled red cabbage and have all the chickpea fritter sandwiches I want, and I don’t have to go to Clover. Well, once I got it home, I realized how massive it was and wondered what I was going to do with the other three quarters of the cabbage since the recipe I had for pickling called for only one cup of sliced red cabbage. Well, I had to think quick since I needed to film a Facebook Live video for the launch of my friends Virtual Pampered Chef Party. I quickly looked to see if I had a recipe for a red cabbage slaw. I figured this would go well on a BLT.

So there it was. I had about 11 cups of red cabbage once I shredded it. This is what I did:

For the red cabbage slaw, I combined what I judged to be one small head red cabbage (approximately 7 cups of shredded cabbage), 3 large carrots, shredded, 1/2 large onion (thinly sliced) with a vinaigrette that consisted of the following: 2 tablespoons dijon mustard, 2 garlic cloves (minced), 1/2 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 4 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of honey, 1/4 tsp of red cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste

.

Then it was time for the Picked Cabbage. This is what I did:

I placed the remaining 4 cups of cabbage in a mixing bowl. I boiled 3 cups of hot water, poured that over the cabbage. Let it sit for about 5 minutes (this blanches the cabbage – its almost like a reverse canning process). Normally you would pour the hot water in the canning jar and let the cabbage ferment over night). I added 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt to a mixing bowl. In a separate container, I measured 1/4 apple cider vinegar and 1/2 white distilled vinegar). You can use rice wine vinegar too. I added peppercorns to the bottom of a mason jar. After mixing the ingredients together in the bowl, I transferred the. mixture into the mason jar. Then, I constructed a BLT my way!!

Here is the BLT:

Started with an almond tortilla wrap – heated up in toaster oven until just lightly toasted. Base is arugula, sliced garden tomato, red cabbage slaw, applewood smoked bacon. I could have added some mayo, but it wasn’t really needed.

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Pulled Pork

I didn’t start making pulled pork until about two years ago. My kids asked me if I could make it. I wasn’t sure about it at first because I hadn’t used my crockpot in years. I first found a recipe with a barbecue base, and then recently started making one closer to the flavor of carnitas because I didn’t want all the sugar.

There isn’t too much you need to prep for this meal. The tools I used are cutting board, chef’s knife, tongs, Q-cooker, small saucepan, fork and strainer.

Here is what I did:

I started with a shoulder butt roast (pork roast), cut it in quarters, seared two tablespoons of olive oil until browed (right in the Quick Cooker. Once the searing was done, I added all the following ingredients right to the pot.

1 tbs packed brown sugar (I used brown swerve)

2 tsp paprica

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp onion powder

1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne

2 tbs oil

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cup chicken broth (Better than Broth – use 1 teaspoon per 1 1/2 cups of water

1 medium onion

I put the Quick Cooker on the pork setting and set it for pressure. It cooked for 1 1/2 hours. Once complete, I strained the juice and separated the bone and any fat from the meat.

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After separating the pork, I was able to weight the left over fat and the bone. It weighed .33 oz. This was satisfying because it was a 3.75 pound pork roast.

I cooked the reserve until it reduced significantly (see below). Added the reduction into the pulled pork.

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Pepper Steak

This recipe reminds me of my mom. She used to make pepper steak with white rice and the sauce would just soak into the rice and make it nice and flavorful. After posting this from my facebook live video, I challenged my 81 year old mom to post her recipe in my comments. Well, we’ll see!!

I started replicating a lot of moms cooking when I moved out of the house in my twenties. Living on my own (sometimes with roommates) I had to learn how to cook. Rents were so high in Boston (surprise) that I had to buy groceries and become very creative in the kitchen. I remember going to the grocery store and purchasing enough chicken and beef to get me through the week. I was never one of those college ramen kids, so I learned pretty quick, and mostly through trial and. error.

Although this isn’t my mothers recipe, this is what I did:

Steak – I used precut stir fry steak (approximately 2 pounds).. I rinsed it, pat it really dry (you want to pat it dry so it doesn’t produce any moisture when cooking (this will toughen the steak). You want to sear it so it keeps the juices in.

This dish is great with flank, skirt, or flat steak (the less expensive you get, the more you have to pound the steak). Here’s what you do to pound it: take plastic wrap and place it on the counter, place steak on top, then place another piece of plastic wrap on top. Pound with cube side first, then flat side (until steak is really thin). Pepper and toss with flour until lightly coated (if you are Keto, you don’t have to coat it). Set aside.

Prep a skillet with 1 tsp of oil and 1 tbs butter. High heat until butter is just browned (but don’t burn it). Toss the flour coated meat into the skillet, not crowding it (remember, we don’t want the meat to steam, we want it to sear). If you have to do it in batches, you may need to divide 3 tablespoons of oil and 2 tablespoons of butter. Sautés until beef gets crispy (flash cook for about 1 minute on each side). Turn heat down if it gets too hot (you can always take the pan off the heat too). Set aside.

Prepare the liquid: combine the following. Two cups of water, 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum, 1 tsp better than bullion (beef flavor), tsp sugar (I use Swerve sugar alternative), 1 tsp mince ginger, 1/4 cup soy sauce. Place to side.

After slicing the yellow pepper, red pepper, and onion (cut onion in half, then medium slices (around the same width of peppers). If you want to add green beans and/or asparagus to this meal you can. Toss all ingredients into the saucepan with two cloves of garlic minced (if you don’t like a lot of garlic, only use one clove). Add water as you cook the vegetables. I usually judge the water as I go because I like my pepper al dente (bit to the tooth). My husband likes the peppers mushy. :(.

Once peppers and onions are cooked to your liking, toss the liquid you prepared into the pan and cook (boil) until it thickens. The Xanthum Gum is the binder to this recipe. Toss in the beef and cook for two minutes.

Server over white rice and/or Chinese noodles.


Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

A couple of years ago I started trying new vegetables, partly because my daughter (who is all grown up) introduced most of them to me. Just to name a few; peas, asparagus and brussel sprouts.

Oh boy, I definitely didn’t like brussel sprouts when I was growing up. I remember my mom making them (boiled or steamed). I would peel the outer edges off – at least to pretend I liked them (sorry MOM!). Peas I just didn’t like the texture, and asparagus seemed to stringy of a vegetable to me. I was more of a green bean person back then.

This asparagus recipe came from a magazine. When I made it the first time, my kids were like, “Ooh, what’s that?” I said prosciutto (knowing they liked prosciutto), but said nothing about the asparagus. I think because the asparagus looked like green beans (which they liked) they went for it. Well, I don’t make it often – only when I get in the mood or have the money to buy the Prosciutto de Parma (it’s imported, aged, and the real good stuff). Although you don’t need a lot for the amount of asparagus in one bunch, eating it often wouldn’t be satisfying (at least to me it wouldn’t). Prosciutto is really salty, so there is no need to add any additional salt to this recipe.

This is what I do:

Take one bunch of asparagus. I use organic because they seem to be thinner than the conventional asparagus, which can be really thick and somewhat chewier. Separate a slice of prosciutto – it pulls apart at the fat seams, so it’s workable. Wrap prosciutto around asparagus from bottom to just before the top in a diagonal formation. Checkout out the facebook live video to see how: https://www.facebook.com/1001484664/videos/10220541772626586/?extid=k0incpVxSQikeHkU.

Once all the pieces are wrapped place on a baking pan (I use my Pampered Chef Large Bar Pan) http://pamperedchef.com/pws/lisagentile, bake at 350 degrees for forty minutes, or until you can see that prosciutto is crispy. You can even take one out of the oven, cool off and test. Some of the thicker pieces might need a little more time. Again, the reason I don’t give exact times is because your oven might be calibrated differently than mine. If I said to use convection in my recipe and you didn’t have a convection oven, you probably would think that you couldn’t cook this dish.

pamperedchef.com/pws/lisagentile


Broccoli Rabe with Italian Sausage

My sister-in-law got me hooked on broccoli rabe. She would make broccoli rabe with garlic and oil at Thanksgiving. This could be a meal in itself, cooked with Italian sausage and chicken stock. She would make it so much that I never thought to even ask her for the recipe. When I finally did ask her, twenty-five years later, she said, “You boil it, sauté it in oil and garlic and serve it.” Well, I boiled it until the stems were just tender, drained it, sautéed it in a sauce pan with garlic and oil until it looked like what she served. Then, just recently, my husband, my son and I went to a local restaurant and I saw it on the menu. I was so excited to see broccoli rabe on the menu. Now, my son eats broccoli (steamed, baked, raw – however it’s served). I didn’t think he wold like it so I ordered it as an appetizer and figured I would bring some leftovers for my lunch the next day. Well, boy, oh boy – he like liked it, my husband liked it (but said not something he (my husband) would eat all the time). The plate was finished before I could get a second serving. After that, I said I needed to replicate the recipe at home. This is when I figured the pressure cooker would come in really handy and cut the cooking the down by half-an hour.

This is what I did:

In a dutch over, crock pot, insta pot or what I use (my Quick Cooker), sauté two Italian sausage (you could use chicken sausage, hot Italian, or sweet Italian) in a tablespoon of olive oil. Once cooked through, add broccoli rabe (rinse, chop very small pieces), placing them in the quick cooker. Throw in 2 cloves of garlic (3 if you like strong garlic taste), 1 teaspoon of chicken stock (I use better than broth), 1/4 teaspoon of oregano, salt ( a pinch), and pepper (grind approximately 5 turns). Turn pressure cooker option on for Quick Cooker – it should be done in about 30 minutes. (NOTE: if using 1 tsp of better than broth, add 1 cup of water to recipe. This will make is soupy. If not adding water, add 1/4 tsp of better than broth. The broccoli rabe makes it’s own liquid from when rinsed in this case.

You can use a dutch over for this, following the same directions – you would just have to cook a little longer (until the broccoli rabe is tender).

Please send any questions my way.


Caesar Salad Dressing

Tonight on my live facebook feed I made a steak tip caesar salad – this is something my husband and I like to order form one of our local restaurants on the weekend. I figured, why not make it ourselves this time. I prepped the romaine lettuce ahead of time. Someone once mentioned to me that if I cut the lettuce with a plastic knife rather than a stainless steel blade, it won’t brown as quickly.. As long as it is sealed in a tight container, it will stay about a two days before turning brown. After prepping the lettuce, I cut a small round of ciabatta into small squares, tossed with some olive oil, herbs, and parmesan cheese and placed in over to toast until lightly browned. I also cut a small round of almond based tortilla into pieces to toast for my own salad (KETO style). While waiting for the croutons to toast, I prepared the dressing.

Now, caesar dressing is usually made with anchovies, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and raw egg yokes. Instead of using raw egg for this recipe I use mayonnaise. I combined the following:

RECIPE:

Before I start, I roast 1 clove of garlic in the toaster oven. Once roasted, I squeeze out the garlic in to my mixing bowl, adding 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of dijon mustard, 1/8 cup of parmesan cheese, 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. This makes enough for about four or five salads. If you are going to use raw egg and anchovy, mince 1 anchovy or more if you like it stronger with 1/2 oil (no mayonnaise).

After making the dressing, I prepared the salad, using precooked steak tips. The steak tips were marinated in greek dressing over night, taken out 1/2 hour before cooking on the grill. (NOTE: it’s always good to leave the meat out before cooking – if cold, the meat stays tight. If room temp, it’s relaxed and will cook relaxed and be much more tender). I cut the steak tips on the bias, to get a good bite out of the tip.


Keto Ground Turkey Loaf

I was so tired when I wrote this post in the wee hours of the morning. My apologies for any typos. I’m usually really good about reading what I write, and I promised you in my facebook live video that I would post the information last night. Well, I am here today to let you know that I appreciate you looking on and sharing this journey with me. I have fixed some of the typos and added some tips and pics.

This is the first time I cooked this loaf, it wasn’t enough for our family of five. It called for 1.5 pounds of ground turkey. It was devoured in a matter of minutes, so I told my husband he’d have to pick up an additional pound or two the next time he went shopping. This also meant that I had to increase the ingredients. Have you ever gone to the store with a list to then come back home and realized you didn’t get the right amount of something. Well, since I had to increase the cheese and the heavy cream, I also had to relay that information to the person who does the grocery shopping, “No, it’s not a half a pint any more, you have to get a pint!” I would say.

I would say, you probably would have to triple the recipe if you have more eating. So here it goes:

RECIPE:

The original recipe asked for 1.5 pounds ground turkey, 1 medium onion (chopped), 1/3 cup of heavy cream, 1/4 of parmesan cheese, dried parsley salt and pepper. (NOTE: cooking at 425 degrees on convection for 30 minutes, it should be done. If cooking at the baking setting, then set the temp to 450 degrees for 30 minutes). Convection cooks around, while bake cooks from underneath.

Now, this is what I did:

Sautés medium onion, salt and pepper, set aside. Combine 2 pounds ground turkey (can be white or dark – dark has more flavor), 1/2 cup of heavy cream (I didn’t increase to 2/3 of a cup because I wanted it a little bit moister, 1/2 parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to your liking, tablespoon of parsley. I cooked sliced mushrooms (sautéed) and set aside (sauce in a little oil, splash of balsamic vinegar and a splash of lime juice).

If you are going to cook it in baking dishes, about one pound in each dish will work well for 30 minutes of cooking time. Again, at 450 bake is pretty hot. If you are using convection, set bake temp to 425. If you choose the cast iron stove, keep the heat on medium and cook for about 20 – 25 minutes. I found 30 minutes was a little longer than I would have liked in my cast iron pan. I covered it too – there is a lot of liquid at the beginning, but it soaks into the meat when you let it sit after you take it off the heat and/or out of the oven.

The balsamic glaze – 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, one medium whole tomato, 2 tablespoons of swerve brown sugar, 1/4 tsp of yellow mustard. I chopped the tomato, placed it in a saucepan, cooked the balsamic vinegar down (not completely (just until you see a shinny glaze forming), added salt and pepper to taste. Great addition with the mushrooms.


Make ahead Egg Pockets

This recipe was inspired by a KETO recipe I tried a while back when I started KETO. The KETO recipe had cheese and sausage, no vegetables, and was baked instead of microwaved. One thing about cooking, is that you can alter the recipe and experiment with your own tools. You don’t have to stick to what is asked of you. Well, with baking it’s a lot different, but savory – I live to mix things up. I’ll tell you about my KETO story another time, so for now here is my story about Egg Pockets.

I started with my tools: cutting board, three cup prep bowl, paring knife, coated santoku knife, one cup prep bowls with lids, and microplane cheese grater. Before I start, I set up the ingredients: onion, red pepper, spinach, cheeses (feta, cheddar, and herbed cheese), and eggs. Next comes the flavors: salt and pepper, southwestern herbs, garlic and herb, and a sprig of thyme from my garden pot (did you know you could now herbs in the kitchen window all winter?)

Now, this recipe can be a make ahead recipe for a couple of days. I wouldn’t go more than three days ahead if you are going to store the containers with the egg mixture in them like the picture shows (I’ll tell you why in a moment). I would suggest you prep all the other ingredients (onion, spinach, red pepper, calamari olives, herbs and cheese), and store them in the containers, then cracking the eggs the morning you’re expecting to cook, and adding them then. Why: I found that if you store the eggs with the mixture the eggs don’t get as fluffy in the microwave, and they tend to the turn the color of the spinach, and then you have green eggs.

Here is what I did:

First I started with the prep of the vegetables, dice the onion, pepper, and chop the spinach, dividing each into the prep bowls (I used approximately 1 tablespoon of onion, 1 tablespoon of pepper, and 3 tablespoons of chopped spinach divided among the four cups. Add the cheese (feta and calamari olive with a pinch of southwestern herbs, salt and pepper); (cheddar and thyme, salt and pepper); and (herbed cheese with garlic and herb rub seasoning, salt and pepper). (TIP: when the recipe says 1 cup of chopped spinach, you chop it first then measure it. When the recipe says one cup of spinach, chopped, you measure it first, then chop it). Next, add the spices, herbs, and the cheese to your liking (remember, if you want more onion, red pepper, or spinach, add as much or as little as you’d like. This is your food the way you like it.

Then (this is the part where you could hold off and add the egg as you serve). If you are going to serve two or more people, go ahead and prep the eggs. I used three eggs to the four cup servings. I added about a teaspoon of water to my egg base and whisk it really well. I pour the batter equally into the four cups (it comes to about the 1/4 mark on the prep bowl cups I used). If you are using mugs and/or ramekins, you could use a 1/4 cup measuring cup. Of course if you have cut more vegetables than I recommended, your servings might yield 1/2 cup each serving because of the mass of added ingredients. (NOTE: If you are going to microwave right away, they will cook nice and fluffy).

Like I mentioned in my live stream, I cooked my cups for 1 minute, however I have a 1000W microwave. If you have a higher watt microwave, your cups may only take 45 seconds. (TIP: test it out for about 30 seconds, then open the microwave door for each 10 second interval until it is fully cooked. Also, some people like their eggs on the soft or hard side, this would factor in how much time you would want to cook your eggs. Experiment, take a risk!!

Remember too, it will rise like a soufflé, and then fall when you take it out of the microwave. Salt and pepper to taste (your taste). I served my meal with diced avocado and yellow tomato (lime juice, salt and pepper). Good luck, and happy eating!!


Mediterranean inspired Chicken

This dish is one of my favorites. I made it with bone in chicken thighs, however it can also be made with chicken tenders, and/or pounded chicken breasts.

After unpacking the meat, I washed then patted the chicken dry with a paper towels until it was dry. I season with a garlic and herb seasoning, ground Himalayan sea salt and ground pepper from the mill until it was well seasoned. You can use as much or as little spice as you like (make it to your liking – go ahead!!). Keep in mind the kalamata olives are salty too.

Before cooking, I prepped a dozen Kalamata olives, about a dozen mini yellow tomatoes, 1/2 cup feta cheese, and sliced one lemon (5 slices). Set all aside.

I started with two tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet big enough for five large pieces of bone in chicken thighs. Once the oil was heated, I placed in saucepan (it sizzles when you place it in). I cooked for 2 minutes before I turned the heat down to 8 (I have a conduction oven). I would say to turn it down to medium on a gas stove and around 6-8 on an electric stove. Cook for an additional 3 minutes or until the bottom is nice and brown before flipping over. You will know when it is ready to flip – it will no longer stick to the pan. After five minutes, turn over and cook for another 5 minutes. If large pieces, cook about 10 minutes on each side. I sometimes finish the bone in chicken thighs in a 350 degree oven (right in my saucepan (it has stainless steel handle, so can go right in oven). Cook for an additional 5 minutes. At this point, the chicken should be finished.


Watermelon Sorbet and Watermelon Lemonade

Hello all!! As I promised from my Facebook Live stream today (https://facebook.com/PamperedChefGentile.lisa54), here is the recipe for the Watermelon Sorbet and the Watermelon Lemonade.

Since my daughter cut up the watermelon, there was about half a watermelon still leftover in the refrigerator. Watermelon gets to a point where it starts to dry out and releases its water content – you’ll pretty much see a puddle of watermelon juice in the container. Well, just before it starts to do that I decided to use the rest to make the sorbet and watermelon lemonade. I usually only make the watermelon lemonade, but wanted to try something different.

I didn’t need an ice cream maker for this recipe, even though I have one (not surprising). I had about 6 cups of watermelon for this recipe, although it called for a 3 pound watermelon. Plus most of the watermelons at the store are 5 or 6 pounds. My unconventional cooking habits took over. As I have said many times, I am not a person to measure everything exact, especially when it comes to savory meals. Baking – you have to be. With savory, you have to go with what tastes good to you.

For the Sorbet:

Here it goes: 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup light corn syrup or light agave nectar, 1/4 cup fresh lime or lemon juice, 3 mint leaves, 3 pounds watermelon (rind and seeds removed, cut into chunks). 1/4 cup lemon juice.

This is what I did. Yielding about 6 cups of watermelon, I used a classic batter bowl to measure. I didn’t use a cup measure as the pieces were too big to judge how much. Especially if you cut your pieces differently than I cut my pieces. I also cut the recipe down because I didn’t want it too be too sweet (as sorbet sometimes is). Blend the watermelon until completely blended, then strain through a mesh colander (you can use a spatula or stainless steel spoon to scrape inside the colander (you will see the pulp reserve inside the colander). You can discard that. The watermelon juice will be clean of pulp at this time. Keep it in the blender for now.

If you want to do what I did, Take 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons of agave nectar and 3 leaves of mint (I use peppermint leaves – this can be optional if you don’t have it). Place those three ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil – remove immediately. Add the mixture to the blender (including the mint) and blend all together again.

I took 1 1/2 cups of the watermelon juice and placed it into the batter bowl and kept the rest in the mixer. Squeeze 1 1/2 lemons into batter bowl using a lemon press or juicer or spoon (if you use a spoon, be sure the seeds are removed). Add enough water until watermelon juice becomes clear. I added about six cups of water. Taste – if you want it sweeter, add more sugar.

Blend watermelon juice (place in glass container and freeze). The recipe I found asked to place the liquid on a sheet pan and place in the freezer. Unfortunately, my freezer isn’t empty, so I placed it into a glass container

The result: since it’s the summer, it’s taking a longer time than I expected to freeze – I update the pic tomorrow.

Tips: If you go out and purchase mint leaves, freeze the extra in an ice cube tray and keep them in a baggy to use at a later time.


Fried Wontons/Vanilla Soft Serve with a drizzle of caramel

This dessert reminded me of a few people and a few great times in my life’s journey. I first made this dessert back in 1999, just after I graduated Culinary School. I landed a job as head pastry chef at a new bistro in my home town. There were a few things on the menu: Creme Brûlée, Chiffon cake with chocolate ganache, and wontons and ice cream.

This one is simple to make; using coconut oil I melted about 1/4 cup in a small sauce pan (this will yield about 8-10 wontons before the oil starts to turn color from the frying. You have to make sure the wontons stay moist out of the package (cover them with a damp paper towel while working with them). Measure two tablespoons of granulated sugar or swerve sugar (natural replacement) in a bowl or small dish and add some cinnamon (place to side). Prepare a plate with a paper towel.

Heat the oil, then place one wonton at a time into the pan (sliding it so it stays flat). Cook until just browned, then turn over and brown on other side. Place cooked wonton on a paper towel and sprinkle with a pinch of the cinnamon sugar right away. Repeat each wonton. If you have a bigger skillet and want to do three or four wontons at a time, you can. Be careful not to burn the wontons if you do it this way. You have to act really fast.

This part will always remind of the time I was up in New Hampshire with family and I made caramel on the spot for some cheesecakes we were having. When I served the cheesecake to my sister-in-law, she asked me where I got the caramel. I told her I made it and she was in awe. We still laugh about it to this day.

With any leftover sugar, I place it in the a small saucepan, adding a drop of water and a sliver of butter – heat up until it starts to bubble, add a pinch of baking soda and a drop or two of cream – this will make caramel. Again, my unconventional way of cooking is just to use up what I have and not really have to measure anything. I will add a video of the caramel at a later date.


Valentine’s Day!

How to say I love you with chocolate dipped strawberries.

For the non-chocolate lover, say it with fresh fruit or fresh fruit and  cheese!

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries!  One of my favorites; I like using chocolate morsels to melt my chocolate because they are already tempered.   I add a little butter when melting to give it a little shine on the finished product.  When I was in school, we used Callebaut Chocolate (callebaut.com).  It can be expensive, and needs to be tempered.

When choosing chocolate, think about what type of chocolate the person you are giving the gift to.  Everyone has a certain taste in chocolate. I use dark chocolate (Giardelli 60% Cocao bittersweet morsels) because I like the balance of the dark chocolate with the sweetness of the strawberries.  For my children and guests I use Semisweet morsels because they like the sweet on sweet taste of the chocolate and the strawberries.

Put aside about an hour to complete from start to finish if more than 1/2 dozen strawberries (once you read through the entire recipe, and you master making dipped strawberries, it should not take as long the second time).  Give a try!

Recipe:

Depending on how many strawberries you want to give or serve, the amount of chocolate doesn’t really matter because the chocolate can be preserved in the refrigerator (it will solidify and keep for a good amount of time and can be melted again, or used for another chocolate dish).

What you will need:

Double boiler (if you don’t have a double boiler, you can use a saucepan and a stainless steel or glass bowl that can withstand heat over hot water.  Check out my page on Best Things I Ever Bought for the item I use with my saucepan.  Also, I have added “the easy way” at the bottom of the instructions if you don’t want to deal with the double boiler option.  I like having the double boiler so the chocolate stays melted and is easier to work with.  With the microwave option, as chocolate hits the air, it starts to thicken.  The chocolate should not be hot when dipping the strawberries, it should be semi-warm.

6-12 oz. of chocolate morsels (you choose the brand)

2-4 oz. white chocolate morsels

Strawberries (amount will depend on how many you are serving or want to serve)

Cookie tray covered with parchment paper or wax paper

Strawberries

  • Wash strawberries – soaking in water for 1 minute – drain and towel dry, leaving the stems on.  There should be no water left on the strawberry when dipping (I place my strawberries on a paper towel while I am working (if the strawberries are wet, the chocolate won’t stick and will cause the chocolate in the pan to solidify.

Chocolate Morels

  • Boil water in saucepan (water should be filled to about 1/3 of the saucepan, turning down heat to simmering once it’s boiled
  • Place bowl on top of saucepan, making sure it fits secure on top of the saucepan. The top bowl should not be hitting the water
  • Making sure there is no water (hot or cold) inside the bowl, pour in the morsels (once chocolate touches water, it solidifies).  You may see some steam come from the sides.  As long as the steam doesn’t get into the bowl you are safe.
  • Melt the chocolate until it is smooth and ready for dipping.  You can start to stir the morsels immediately as some morsels may still look whole, but are melted.  At this point, I add 1/2 tablespoon of butter/shortening/or oil to chocolate to give it a little shine.

Assembly

  • Take the strawberry by the stem (pinching with three fingers) and holding the side of the strawberry with the ring finger for pressure, dip in a swirl like motion covering the entire strawberry, except for the stem, lifting the strawberry out of the chocolate and placing at an angle onto the cookie tray.  Space strawberry so that the chocolate doesn’t melt into the strawberry beside it.
  • Once strawberries are placed on cookie sheet, take the white chocolate (see below) and drizzle strawberries with white chocolate.
    • With a spoon – take a spoon, and lift the spoon up keeping it over the dish (a single string of chocolate will form, once you are able to get the string formed, swipe back and forth over strawberries until streams of chocolate appear.
    • With a pastry bag – place white chocolate in pastry bag making sure the whole on the bottom of the pastry bag is very small (enough to drizzle through).  Swipe chocolate over strawberries back and forth.
  • Place tray in the refrigerator until chocolate is completely solidified – approximately 30 minutes (If I am in a hurry, I place them in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes (you will know they are ready when they lift off the paper freely).

White Chocolate Drizzle

  • Place morsels in a microwavable dish, set microwave for desired time (Usually 15 seconds, depending on my microwave setting).  If it needs longer, set at 15 second intervals until melted and can be stirred. Morsels may still look whole, but are heated enough to melt and can be stirred.

Gift Giving – I purchase small pastry boxes, or clear plates and place a doily on surface, then assemble strawberries.  For the plates, I wrap in clear basket wrap and place bow around to secure.

The easy way:  Microwave your chocolate (depending on your microwave temperature, you will have to keep an eye on the melting of the chocolate).  Morsels may still look whole, but are heated enough to melt and can be stirred.

Why I don’t use the microwave:  If the chocolate overcooks, if I don’t watch it carefully.  It can burn and solidify and won’t be usable to dip strawberries, so be careful.


What It’s All About

Live, Love, Laugh and Give.

Food is a part of our lives.  There’s no way around it.  Flavor4Food is a place where you will get inspired by things that inspire me, and at the same time learn how herbs and spices can make every day cooking a success.

GET INSPIRED and follow your heart.

“The past has no power over the present moment.”
―Eckhart Tolle

This is your life.  Make your dreams a reality, live the life you want to live, don’t be afraid to try new things, and set  reasonable goals for yourself.

Donate a can of food today!

KEEP CALM AND LET IT GO!  TODAY IS A NEW DAY!


Carrots mushroom vegetable Spanish rice with salmon

I got these exotic looking carrots at Traders Joe’s – cooked with some portobello mushrooms and vegetable Spanish rice. Salmon on the side. Delightful!