It’s that most wonderful time of the year again. It’s the time of year when we prepare our homes to receive friends and family in the spirit of the season. It’s the time of year when we heat up our ovens and start making those favorite dishes that will become favorites of those that taste them. It’s also the time when we need to stock out pantries to be prepared for unexpected visitors.
I was invited to BJ’s Wholesale Club a few days ago to get some a peek at some of their holiday products and get some tips on entertaining.
Bj’s does require you to purchase a membership to receive the benefits of their club, but their low prices and coupon policy more than makes up for that fee.
One important difference between BJs and other membership clubs is that BJs sells many of it’s products in sizes more appropriate for families while other membership clubs have items packaged in large quantities for small businesses. This is especially important when purchasing perishable items (like produce) that can spoil before you have a chance to use them.
My oven is HOT! I’ve been baking up a storm lately developing cake and pie recipes for my clients’ holiday tables.
Here’s a link to the Brown Sugar Pound Cake recipe just in case you’re in the mood for a little baking. If you’re in the Atlanta area you can order one of these delicious cakes from me. Here’s the rest of the menu:
Mmmm, Wouldn’t this BROWN SUGAR POUND CAKE be GORGEOUS on your holiday table! The perfect Thanksgiving dessert or Christmas Dessert but really it’s great any time of year. This cake is incredibly moist, lightly sweet, has a hint of lemon and a whole lot of DELICIOUS! (more…)
I was browsing one of my favorite blogs, British Blokes Cooking, when I came across a great looking recipe for Milton’s sausage and potato soup. I guess I shouldn’t read food blogs on an empty stomach because I got REALLY HUNGRY! Now, here’s the thing, I can never follow a recipe…NEVER (almost never). I get inspired by them but then I take off in a completely different direction. In a nod to my Southern roots I used collard greens instead of the kale that was in the recipe. I went to the market and saw some beautiful Kabocha squash that I absolutely could not resist. I had some smoked sausage and some of my homemade bacon in the fridge and I omitted the cream altogether. This soup was FANTASTIC!! The broth was smokey and slightly spicy from the bacon and sausage and a little sweet from the squash.
So here it is, my kabocha squash and collard green soup recipe, I hope you try it or are inspired by it. Either way I’d like to hear about what you cooked and how you change things up.
Kabocha squash and Collard Greens Soup
4 ounces of diced bacon1 small onion diced (about ½ cup)1 bunch of collard greens washed and julienned ( about 15 ounces)1- 12 ounce package of smoked sausage sliced
1 small kabocha squash (about 1 pound) cut into 3/4 inch cubes (substitute butternut or acorn squash or pie pumpkin)
3 cups of chicken broth
Cook diced bacon over medium heat to render the fat from the bacon. Remove the bacon and save, keep the bacon fat in the pot.Add onion into the bacon fat and sauté until translucent for about 4 minutes. Add collard greens into the pot and stir around to wilt greens a bit.Add sausage, kabocha squash and chicken broth. Simmer on medium-low for about 20 minutes or until squash is tender.You could also bring the soup to a simmer then put it in the oven and let it cook, covered, gently at 300 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until squash is tenderTop soup with reserved bacon, serve and enjoy
I love birthday parties, even if they aren’t my own. When my dear friend and interior designer extraordinaire Elle (check out her blog here) asked me to work with her on her husband’s birthday celebration, I was happy to be the chef and a guest. Elle styled the party in black and white using chalkboard paper as a table cover. If you use contact chalkboard paper don’t remove the paper on the back if you don’t want the contact paper to stick to your table.
For the menu we decided that sliders would be the main event. What goes better with beer than a hearty burger. In addition to traditional beef sliders I made crab cake sliders and little roasted veggie hoagies as well, something for all tastes. We did delicious snacks as well like sinful candied bacon and homemade soft pretzels with sea salt. The candied bacon was a big hit, and of course I used some of my own homemade house cured bacon coated with brown sugar, cayenne pepper and rosemary.
Buffalo chicken meatballs with hotwing sauce and bleu cheese was also on the menu. This is a tasty dish for a party, especially during football season. The birthday boy’s hand crafted beer was the perfect foil for the spicy sauce. The recipe is below
Buffalo chicken meatballs for a party
Makes about 32- 1.5 ounce meatballs
1 small onion cut into fine dice (about ½ cup)1 garlic clove cut into fine dice2 tablespoons canola oil
3 pounds ground chicken (dark meat if possible)
3 egg whites
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon paprika
1 ½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup hot sauce
¼ cup butter
4 ounces of blue/bleu cheese
Heat oven to 400°Coat 2 rimmed sheet pans with canola oil. Saute onions and garlic in canola oil until translucent. Cool to room temperature.Mix ground chicken, egg whites, bread crumbs, salt, paprika, sautéed onion and garlic. Form into meatballs about 1 ½ inches in diameter
Place on an oiled sheet pan and roast for about 20 minutes or until the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 165 °
In a separate saucepan mix hot sauce and butter heat to boiling then remove from heat.
Pour sauce over meatballs and bake 5 minutes. Place on a serving tray with bamboo party forks and top with crumbled blue cheese
I’ve been wanting to try these shirataki noodles for a while as a pasta substitute. The noodles have only 3 grams of carbohydrate and 20 calories in each 4 ounce serving. The brand I used is made from tofu and yam flour. I’ve been eating low carb for about two months now and I was having a bit of a pasta craving. I purchased the package a couple of weeks ago but I was a bit nervous because of something written on the label in the directions that frightened me “Drain and rinse thoroughly. Parboil for 2-3 minutes to reduce the authentic aroma”. REDUCE THE AUTHENTIC AROMA? ummm, that made me nervous. I finally got up the nerve to try it and, yes there is a bit of a faint fishy smell to the noodles, but it’s not bad. After rinsing, parboiling, draining and drying I didn’t smell anything. I tasted one plain and it had no taste at all, which is a good thing I think.
A carbonara style dish is what I had been craving so I crisped up some bacon, sauteed spinach in the rendered bacon fat, tossed in the noodles, stirred in an egg and mixed in some Parmesan cheese. With a little black pepper it was pretty tasty. The noodles have a slightly different texture from wheat pasta but it was not unpleasant. I’d make it again. I found the brand pictured above at my local grocery store but you can also order it and other brands of shirataki noodles from Amazon.com. Next time I make this I’m going to try the Miracle Noodle brand, with less than 1 gram of carbs per 3 ounce serving. I’ll let you know how they are. Here’s a great recipe for Miracle Noodle Shirataki Noodles with sauteed Greens
Here’s the recipe for Shirataki noodle carbonara, makes 2 servings
7-8 ounces of Shirataki noodles
4 ounces bacon
3 ounces of spinach
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
fresh cracked black pepper
Rinse the shirataki noodles and par-boil them for 2-3 minutes (or follow the preparation directions on the package) Drain the noodles well.
Cut the bacon into 1/2 inch slices and cook over medium heat to render the far out, remove the bacon from the pan and reserve. Saute the spinach in the bacon fat, add the noodles and stir. Remove the pan from the heat and add in the beaten egg and Parmesan cheese. Season with fresh cracked black pepper and top with reserved cooked bacon.
Congratulations to me! So far I’ve lost 18 pounds on my low carb weight loss journey. Here’s a recipe for a typical lunch that I’ve been eating these days. This recipe for shrimp salad with creamy fish sauce is delicious and quick to put together. There are a few carbs in shrimp so keep that in mind when your cooking with them.
Here’s the recipe. When you try it let me know how you like it
Shrimp salad with creamy fish sauce
Ingredients carbs calories
12 ounces shrimp
1/3 clove of garlic, sliced
¼ teaspoon fresh ginger grated
8 oz (about one 8 inch) cucumber, peeled and seeded
Okay COFFEE LOVERS! This recipe for Espresso Rubbed Lamb Ribs is for YOU! Using coffee as a spice adds a delicious depth of flavor to meats and even vegetables. I love using instant espresso along with other warm spices like smoked paprika and cinnamon. Crush the espresso between your fingers or in a mortar and pestle to release the flavor.
I cooked these lamb ribs in an oven bag so the ribs cook in it’s own juices. The directions for the oven bags require you toss some flour in the bag before cooking. Another way to cook this is to wrap the ribs tightly in aluminum foil instead of using the oven bag. If you do this then you don’t have to add the flour making this a gluten free recipe.
The Espresso Rubbed Lamb Ribs become a beautiful deep brown after roasting in the oven bag. The ribs, bathed in it’s own rendered fats and juices, come out of the bag unbelievably moist and tender. The finished dish, lamb ribs with a glaze of barbecue sauce for the family (no sauce for me, thanks) and a crisp salad with fresh and pickled vegetables on the side
Cooked; spinach, broccoli, leeks, peppers, caramelized onion, bacon, chicken, ham, crab. Shredded cheeses like cheddar, mozzarella. Soft cheeses like goat cheese
Raw; scallions, soft herbs like chives, thyme or basil
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
Butter a pie dish, the one I used is for “deep dish” pie.
Cook vegetables (should be cool before you pour custard in) or use leftover cooked vegetables. Chop them to very small size and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Evenly distribute vegetables, meat and shredded cheese in pie dish.
Beat half and half, salt and eggs until combined. Pour over vegetables. Top with grated hard cheese like Parmesan, Romano or aged asiago.
Place on a sheet pan in case it bubbles over. Place in center of the oven and bake for 50 minutes. Should be a bit wobbly in the center, kind of like a Jello mold.