Saturday, June 30, 2012

Beach Easy Free Friday!

So, it only took 2 weeks to to do the easiest snack in the world that is carb free, sugar free, and gluten free.   It's quick, fun and the kids will love it.  Delicious and high protein, it's a great snack to keep you going all afternoon.

Since today is a beach day for us, we are headed out to Lido Key to watch the sun set over blue Carribean waters and enjoy the surf.  I'll do a quick post today and hopefully be back Monday.  Mondays have become really busy so I'm considering moving to Tues, but I'll still love sharing my finds and gems for sugar free gluten free living so everyone can enjoy them!

Today's is grilled cheese and baked bacon.   Baked bacon is the best thing since finding 100 dollar bills on the street.  Basically, you save yourself the mess, cleanup, pesky grease burns and guessing time on cooking.  Grilled cheese is amazingly crisp like a cracker on the outside and chewy warm on the inside.

Let's start with the cheese:

I used Sargento Light cheese sticks (mozzarella) and cut them in to about 1" pieces.  I preheated my electric grill to 325/350f and when it was hot, dropped them with plenty of space between them to spread.  Also you can do this with sharp cheddar - it's much more greasy, but when you're done you have the most amazing tasting cheez-its taste alike!    Cook until brown on one side or solid, use a  pancake turner to loosen and flip them then cook another 3-4 min a side.

For the bacon, get some nice quality thick cut bacon, line a 13x9 cookie sheet with foil and place the whole package, some-what crowded, onto the pan.   Bake for 20 min for chewy bacon, 25 for moderate, 30 for crispy and 35+ for blackened/ super crunchy.

Here's pics of the order!  Enjoy your delicious snack!!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday Sneak Peek - Easy!

I'm actually here on a Monday.  I can hear the collective gasp from my enthralled audience.   This week will be busy and I spent an hour in Ikea this morning.  That place is a money death trap.  I went in to buy a mattress for the guest room bed, which my sister will be needing by Wed.  I ended up leaving with a lot of things, that, while I do not regret buying them, I probably didn't need them at all.   There was a replacement cushion for the couch, a set of hangers, some curtains, oh,  yes, and the mattress after all.  Ikea is one of those places where you could definitely wander for hours and then walk out of dreaming about your simple, yet, fabulously organized, small but adequate home.  It's nowhere near anyone's reality, but it makes for nice imagery all the way home.  When I walk through the door and am greeted with overflowing shelves, books and paperwork stacked in every corner and toys draping every surface, I realize the imaginary Swedish land of clean and tidy is but a pipe dream - for us, for now.  I have some of those beautiful clean lines shelves and home items.  I fell in love with a dining room table, only to find it on clearance in their dent and scratch section for a fraction of the cost.  But upon further review, I realized, I have a perfectly nice, working and usable kitchen table; why would I need another?

Let's keep this week simple, since it will be complicated by family and chaos, the idea for Friday is going to be easy.  You're going to need just a few things, but you may have them laying around your kitchen already and when it comes to making this adorable snack, you'll just be so glad you came to cook with us on Friday.   It's fun, the kids will love it, easy to do and of course gluten and sugar free.

Now, onto the important stuff.  Matchbox 20 (which you do not get to hear about much around here because we're too busy drooling over our latest creations in the kitchen and the Goo Goo Dolls)  is releasing a new album on Sept. 4 but tomorrow, they release a single from the new album.  It's called "She's So Mean" and Aol seems to have some kind of exclusive on a promo.  I searched for another source, advertising, anything, and didn't find much.  So, the link below will take you to their new song, and take a listen.  People are complaining already - too much pop, sounds like their old sound, nothing new or interesting, and people are freaking out - can't wait for the tour, so glad mb20 is making more music, and awesome sounds just like the old days.  

Pick your side and take a listen.  Are you glad MB20 is bringing out another album?  They've had some trouble in the past but Rob Thomas has a lot of talent, and while still performs on his own (LOVE the song Her Diamonds) the band was a 90's hit and should definitely be on the scene today.

Check out their new song, and get back to us at the end of this week, for a fun easy snack idea.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Saturday Morning Breakfast!

In celebration of breakfast today,  Friday's post is going to be Saturday morning!  That was the best excuse I had for not making it to my computer yesterday!  There was a lot going on and the day ended with me crashing at 8:30 at night.  I do wish I had a cup of coffee to share this interesting recipe, which I found at, but we can make due with a bowl of yogurt and almonds.

Things have come along well at the house.  Kids entertained, bedrooms cleared, and waiting for mom to show up.  I've been trying to make some menus (again yes!) to have an idea for grocery list and such, but so far I'm coming up blank.  Not sure what some good ideas are for when company is over.  There are still 300 soups in my freezer, so that's always a good fallback right? 

Let's discuss for a moment vegetarian and vegan perspectives in this blog.  I am obviously  not against eating meat in any way shape or form.  I am highly dependent on it for keeping my blood sugar regulated and my metabolic syndrome in check.   However, there are some people, like a friend of mine, who recently was told to stop eating meat - for medical reasons.  I'm going to go for an elementary and short explanation, search the web if you want more comprehensive idea of how these diets work, I don't follow them, so I'm NOT the expert!  Cutting out meat and meat products would be vegetarian.  Cutting out meat, dairy and any animal product or by product is vegan.  Vegans won't eat honey, eggs or milk because it's taken from bees and cows.  Vegetarians will or can eat honey, eggs and milk.  Everyone's food choices are what's best for them and in this blog, there's an abundance of meat.  You'll find sometimes that I've thrown in a vegetarian option (and I've tried to dabble in veganism a couple times to no avail.)  Coconut and almond milk can only go so far for a person who can't/shouldn't eat grains.  Eventually you need some substance.  Vegans can wake up in the morning and have a bowl of cereal with almond milk and go about their day.  I haven't had a bowl of cereal in over three years.  

Keep these three things in mind when you're going over some of my recipes: 

1.  Chicken stock/broth can always be substituted with vegetable stock/broth.  Always.  It's good stuff!  Likewise with milks, some recipes (not yogurt! or custards, they require different methods) can have almond or coconut milk substitute

2.  Some soups/foods can omit the meat and still taste great.  Try substituting portabella mushrooms for steak or hamburger. 

3.  Beans are also a good meat substitute.  Later, you'll find me substituting wheat flour with beans.  =) 

Today's recipe is neither vegan nor vegetarian but you can modify it to vegetarian if you like (just leave out the bacon! - what??? Leave out bacon is capital crime in my house.)

Here's my source!  Yes, I changed some things,  YES! I do make the recipe as stated FIRST before making my modifications.  You can be sure this recipe is a lot of fun in my house and makes amazing hot ham and cheese sandwiches! 

Bacon Onion Cloud Bread

3 eggs separated (very carefully - no yolk in the white at ALL!)
3 pinches of cream of tartar
2oz softened cream cheese
8 drops of liquid stevia
5 green onions chopped into tiny pieces
2 pieces of bacon (cooked) and the meat parts (cut off ALL the fat) chopped into tiny pieces

Preheat the oven to 300f. 

In a mixer,  mix on high the egg whites and cream of tartar until STIFF white peaks form.  Stiff is the keyword here.  High, fluffy, and can stand in towers on their own.  

In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolks, cream cheese, liquid stevia, green onions, and bacon until as smooth as possible.  

Then, we're going to FOLD, the yellow mixture into the whites.  Don't go crazy here.  Take a spatula (bowl scraper) with a silicone end and fold fold fold, then stop.  If you over mix it, it's going to turn into a liquid and that's what we want to avoid.  Go for fluffy. 

These things tend to be a bit sticky.  Try wax paper on your cookie sheet but just cooking spray or oil is not going to be enough to keep them from sticking.  I greased my pan with liquid bacon fat (from cooking the bacon) but they still got stuck, but didn't fall apart taking them off the pan.  

Drop into large spoonfuls on a cookie sheet.  I get about 6 to a sheet and they are the size of a regular burger bun.  They do not spread so much, but leave some room.  

Bake on middle rack for 23 minutes.  Some people might need longer, some shorter, just keep an eye on it, you don't want them overly browned but white is definitely not done.  

Cool on a cooling rack and store in a plastic container in the FRIDGE!  Use two to make a delicious hot ham and cheese sandwich (heat a fry pan med heat, put some butter in it, put cheese on one 'bread' and top with meat, and another bread - fry on one side till the cheese is melty, then flip and cook another 3 min.)   This bread is also good if you add 2 cloves crushed garlic and serve with low carb spaghetti or one of the soups on this blog!

Hope you enjoy this recipe, it's a LOT of fun to make.  I have added sweet things to it too as a dessert or breakfast bread and it's always turned out well.  They are fluffy, low carb, wheat and gluten free,  interesting bread substitute and easy to pull out of the fridge and have for any meal.  

Here are some pics of the steps I took.  I DO have a camera now, but I was still using my droid for these pics!  

Have a fun weekend! 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Free Friday - Soup!

I'm going to be sliding into home with this one today!  Welcome to June today!  Just barely made it to the computer to type all this up.  I've been obsessed with beds and bread today.  Baked two batches of bread... I'm sure you'll get to see that one soon enough!  Also, went and got the kids a new set of bunks.  We were one bed short for everyone to have their own, so I fixed that today.   Now, I just need the kids bedroom flooring to be installed, and I'll be cooking with gas!  Actually, that won't change at all how I cook, sadly, because if new floors equaled gas stove, I'd have done that long ago.   As it is, I'm impaired with an electric.  There was some discussion to switch the kitchen to gas, but the long and the short was it's expensive to convert like that plus it's not exactly going to add value to the house, especially in this economy.  Most people like the convenience of electric, unless they are serious chefs and understand the importance of gas, and that's still a fairly small market.

Onto Friday!  Busy day!  The kitchen is finally quiet after a day of bustle, the bed is stacked in boxes in the living room and my vacuum never showed.   My seller was very quick to get it out to the shipping company, but those people really took their time.  I realize the holiday weekend was last week and that probably slowed down, and subsequently, backed up shipping, but seriously, it shouldn't take 2 weeks coming from Arizona.   Look out if the box is damaged, oy vey.  However, today's idea was the fact that I've been filling my freezer with soups.  I love soups, easy to eat and fairly easy to make, today's soup is Bok Choy Shiitake mushroom.  I DID get this recipe from another website!  It's certainly no brainchild of mine, though I was considering taking on a challenge with leeks...

So, I can't say that there are a whole lot of recipes out there that I haven't seriously modifed - rejoice! today's our day, I changed almost nothing in this recipe!  Shocked?  Me too.  It's ridiculously rare for me to find a recipe and not turn it into a three ring circus, or at least some semblance of a messy kitchen.  I did change up some things though.  First, I made it gluten free (DO NOT follow her recipe exactly if you are wheat/gluten free!!!!  Please be aware!  Soy sauce has wheat in it.)  Secondly I had to substitute an ingredient I didn't have and add one I loved, and thirdly, I changed one of the steps.  There is a really neat secret to getting some good flavor into your soup.  I used an idea from a friend and soaked the mushrooms in some of the broth before cooking them - it greatly reduces the oil they absorb while cooking.  They pick up the flavor and then it basically cooks down when they are sautéeing in the pan.

Here we go!

This is the original recipe:

Bok Choy Shiitake Soup

About 1 medium/large head of bok choy - chopped
2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 cup chopped onion
(3 ounces of grated ginger if you like)
2 tsp coconut oil
2 tBsp tamari sauce (you can find this in low sodium versions - I have some in my fridge right now!)
1 tsp dried red pepper flakes (OR szechuan pepper - which I did not have)
1 Quart low sodium chicken stock
salt/ pepper to taste
chopped chives to garnish

Start with a large sauce pan (6-8 quarts) with about 1/3 of the broth in it and the mushrooms.  Gradually raise the temperature to 'HOT'.  HAHA!  What a description!  Basically, you're not cooking the mushrooms, you want them to soak up the broth and they're ready to be taken out when they are too hot to touch, but NOT cooked!  Use a slotted spoon to get the mushrooms out, leave the broth in the pan, keep it at a simmer but be careful to not boil it all off.

While the sauce pan heats, place the oil and onion in the frying pan and cook till they are translucent.  Add the bok choy, mushrooms, ginger, tamari sauce and pepper flakes and cook about 10 minutes, or until the mushrooms are cooked.

Take all the ingredients from the frying pan and using a spatula, scrape every tiny bit of it into the saucepan.  Pour the rest of the broth in as well.  Heat to simmer and it's piping hot, ready to serve!

No, my pictures are nowhere near as amazing as hers.  I don't have my camera yet.  I am using a Samsung Galaxy S 5.0 mp3 player for a camera.  Takes pretty good pics for an mp3 player.  =)

Welcome to a great weekend!  Hope yours is filled with delicious eats and lots of relaxation!