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Thanksgiving in Georgia

Austin, Daniel, and I drove up to Garfield, Georgia, for Thanksgiving with Andrea and Ramey at their new house!  Rather than stress cooking a turkey or ham in an unfamiliar kitchen, I opted for the convenience of Honeybaked!  Andrea and I had fun making the sides.  It was so relaxing and delicious!

I am still avoiding the foods that can cause inflammation, so the cranberry was made with apple cider instead of orange juice.  A successful substitution.  I skipped the mashed potatoes, but still had plenty on my plate!  The desserts were a simple pumpkin pie and a pecan pie cheesecake that the kids want me to make for Christmas too!  I’ll post the recipes in coming days.  Still recovering from my trip and return to work!

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I’m still feeling great after giving up nightshades.  No pain at all and the psoriasis is clearing up after less than two weeks.

I sense that providing recipes on my blog that are nightshade free may fill a need.  I’ve been trolling the internet for recipes, and there aren’t a lot of resources out there.  One site,  tomatoesareevil.com did give me a good laugh.  My youngest son also needs to limit dairy, so he joked that we will soon be eating grass and drinking only water.  I’ll meet that challenge and work to make interesting, tasty nightshade, dairy free recipes that no one will guess are as healthy as they are.

Tonight’s dinner was nightshade free, gluten free and totally delicious.  I saw  Ina Garten make this – I adapted it to fit our needs.

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1 lb. cobia filet or other firm fish, cut into 2-3 oz. pieces.

1/4 lb. prosciutto, sliced extremely thin

1/4 c. Italian dressing

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 Tbsp. oil (I used an Avocado Olive Blend)

1 large sweet potato cubed

2 parsnips, cubed

16 baby carrots, cut into thirds

3 Tbsp. oil

Salt and pepper

Marinate the fish in dressing and lemon juice and oil at least 30 minutes (I did it overnight)

Preheat oven to 375.

Prepare two baking sheets by covering with foil and spraying with coconut oil.

Toss the vegetables with the oil and salt and pepper and spread in a single layer on one of the baking sheets.

Cook for 15 minutes while preparing the fish.

Wrap each piece of fish in prosciutto and place seam side down on the baking sheet.   Pour marinade over fish to moisten the prosciutto.

Place in oven and cook alongside fish for 15 minutes.

The prosciutto shrinks down and gets crispy on top.  Yum!

 

 

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Ground meat is one of the best buys around for reasonable priced meals for your family.  I buy in bulk when there’s a sale and prepare stuff ahead as much as possible.   Meatballs are baked and then frozen.  Meatloaf is frozen to defrost the day ahead of being made.  Ground meat seasoned with salt and pepper is cooked, crumbled and drained and then frozen.  Burgers are made and then frozen.  This past week Aldi had a sale on 5 lbs. of ground beef  for $9.95.  Another market had ground turkey on a BOGO sale so it ended up being $2.20 per pound.  One of these days, I’m going to experiment with grinding my own meat.  Ironically I bought a meat grinder to make veggie burgers, but it’s sitting in my pantry gathering dust.

First, let’s talk about meatballs.  I used to buy the frozen, precooked variety until my kids rebelled and said only mine would do, claiming the others are like little rubber balls.  I see their point.  The only way I can make this happen, though, is to cook them ahead and freeze them.  I make rather large batches, so I have at least enough for two meals when I’m done.

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3-4 lb. ground meats (use a blend of at least two – beef, turkey, chicken, and pork are all great)  Keep in mind, though, that beef really throws off a lot of grease, whereas the others are leaner and less greasy.  For that reason, I try to use less beef.

2 eggs

1/ 2 or so seasoned bread crumbs (in a pinch, I’ve used oatmeal, instant grits, and leftover quinoa)

2 heaping Tbsp. sweet pickle relish

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

16 oz. cottage cheese (or ricotta if you don’t have any cottage cheese)

Optional add ins:

Pesto, seasoning packets from Rice-A-Roni (ha ha – when I make prepared foods like that I always use 1 packet per two boxes to reduce the sodium, and keep the spare packet around for future use)

Prepare two 13 x 9 baking dishes by spraying with coconut oil.

Mix meats and wet ingredients by hand, gradually adding in the bread crumbs/oatmeal/whatever, so that you can form meatballs that do not fall apart.  Add sparingly, as you can always add in more, but you can’t take them out once you’ve put them in!  Sometimes when using ground chicken, the meat is impossibly sticky.  Using the grab and roll method with flour on your hands, and rolling the meatballs in a  little seasoned flour takes care of that!

Scoop meat mixture using an ice cream or cookie dough scoop if it’s not too sticky and place meatballs in baking dishes.  If there is no beef, drizzle with a little olive oil.  If there is beef, skip this step.

Bake at 375 F for approximately 40 minutes (depending on meatball size) or until golden and the internal temperature is at least 160 F.

Allow to cool, and place in containers to freeze for future use.

I defrost them overnight the night before I am going to make them for dinner.

Meatballs are so versatile.  Some variations we have enjoyed are:

https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/buffalo-meatball-and-potato-casserole/

Ground meat 1 Buffalo meatball and potato casserole

https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2015/02/26/stroganoff-style-meatballs/

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https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2016/01/24/meatball-sub-casserole-from-tasty/

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https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2016/02/23/coconut-curry-meatballs-using-imagine-thai-coconut-curry-sauce/

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https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/chinese-chicken-meatballs-adapted-from-guy-fieris-general-guys-chicken/

ground meat 3 gen tso meatballs

 

https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/barbecue-ranch-chicken-meatballs-2/

barbecue ranch meatballs

Or simply bake them with your favorite spaghetti sauce topped with cheese!

Sometimes I make them big, like little mini meatloafs.  You can even cook them in a muffin pan.

The recipe for crock pot meatloaf follows much the same recipe as my basic meatballs.  Cooking it in the crock pot is by far the easiest way to make a moist, delicious meatloaf.

https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2016/03/16/crock-pot-meatloaf/

Crock pot meatloaf

You can stuff uncooked jumbo shells or manicotti with meatloaf mixtures, too, or add in a little sausage to give it a zing.

https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2016/02/21/stuffed-shells-using-uncooked-pasta-and-meatballs-for-another-night-or-two/

Stuffed shells

The recipe I use for burgers is more or less the same.  I put them in a Tupperware and freeze them until the night before we’re having them.  I cook them on a baking sheet, rather than standing at the stove flipping burgers.

https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2016/07/05/burgers-cooked-in-the-oven/

burger cooked in the oven

There are a load of recipes you can make with precooked and frozen ground meat or sausage:

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https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2016/02/17/stuffed-poblano-pepper-casserole/

Stuffed Poblano Pepper Casserole

https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2015/09/29/stuffed-bell-peppers-with-polenta/

Stuffed peppers

https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2015/05/17/cabbage-rolls-deconstructed-casserole/

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https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/cheeseburger-casserole/

Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese

https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2015/01/02/hawaiian-crock-pot-delight/

Hawaiian crock pot dish.jpg

https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2014/04/23/shepherds-pie-using-leftover-meatloaf/

shepherds pie

https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/gluten-free-sloppy-joe-cornbread-casserole/

sloppy joe

 

https://vickidelbrouck.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/lazy-day-casserole/

Lazy day casserole

My sister Sue recently shared some photos including some of matching family cars taken during our summer vacation one year.   I love this.  I hadn’t seen this picture in years!

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They are parked in front of a cottage our family used to visit each summer in Geneva on the Lake, Ohio, on Lake Erie.  Our family, consisting of mom, dad, Sue, Don, and me would be joined by Uncle Sherman (Lease), Aunt Harriet, Jerry, Barbara, Uncle Tom (Miller), Aunt Jane, Tommy, Sally, Kathy, my dad’s parents, Art and Helen, and sometimes friends, including the Kunz family, Tom Coughlin, Jerrie Simon (I think) to name just a few.  There would be sleeping bags everywhere.  People sleeping all over the place! There was an old boat house down on the lake where the really brave boys would sleep, as it was beyond rustic and housed spiders of all shapes and sizes.  Or maybe they just told me that to keep me from wanting to hang out with them!   Lake Erie was the closest thing to the sea shore we had, and we loved it!

Sue shared some pictures of how it looks today, including “Shank’s Cottage”  which belonged to a friend of Uncle Sherman’s named Elmer (I think) Shank, who rented it to our family each year.

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Nicely updated, but it still has some of the charm I remember!

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There were arcades where we could play bingo and other games for tickets to claim amazing prizes (or so we dreamed).  Miniature golf and an amusement park called  what?  Pop’s maybe, with kiddie rides.  Vacations at Geneva were a dream come true!

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Eddie’s Grill has been there forever!

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This is the Sunken Bar circa 1966-67

Geneva 1 Sunken BAr

I remember my grandma and Uncle Sherman cooking spaghetti for dinner, both with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths.  Mom used to joke that ash was their secret ingredient.

We used airplane tire tubes as our flotation devices.  So many fun times!!

We rented a scooter one year and have some fun home movies I now have a yen to dig up!

Family vacations are money well spent.  Nothing in my childhood memories matches the times we had at Geneva on the Lake!

Miscellaneous pictures I found searching online:

Another Proud Mama Update

As you know, I am proud of all my children.  My son Austin is no exception.  He also has always been very clear on who he is and what he wants.  His creativity led him first to remodeling and decorating.  He could have done that for a living.  However, he found himself drawn to doing hair.  He also followed his passion.  After much research, he decided that Aveda was the place for him.

Austin Aveda Show.

He landed a job with Ted Gibson of “What Not to Wear” fame while still in school.

Hair 8 Ted

Another part of who Austin is presents itself in his willingness to give back.  The following story and picture ran in our local paper:

Nine economically-disadvantaged teens and young adults, some homeless, got a bit of pampering at Blend Beauty Lounge and then dinner at J72 Chef’s Lounge all for free during the “Beauty and the Feast” event in Davie. The girls are residents at 4 KIDS of South Florida, a non-profit that finds homes for children, teens and young adults in crisis, based in Fort Lauderdale. The owners of the establishments said they simply want to reach out to the less fortunate if even for just one day.

(Taimy Alvarez / Sun Sentinel)

 

Austin giving back

Currently at Blend Beauty – every day, he helps women to feel more beautiful.

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From beautiful blonds using Balayage.  (his kid sister Molly the Baker is his model)

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To vivid and amazing colors.  Color correction, too.  (friend Stephanie is his model)

Hair 1

Gorgeous, one-of-a-kind coloring (his sister in law Bree is his model)

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Letting people express themselves with beautiful, unique hair (friend Anandi is his model)

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Wow – amazing (significant other Daniel is is model)

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Austin is an artist.  His vision, eye for color, his talent, are a gift.  I love when he does my hair and makes me feel beautiful.  (his sister Olivia and I are his models)

Livy and Mom

He keeps the whole family looking beautiful!  Austin introduced me to unique hair, and I’ll never go back to boring colors.  Maybe it’s my inner rebellious teenager, but I choose to continue to embrace the opportunity to express myself with colorful hair!

Hair 6

Thank you for letting me share another proud mama moment.  More of these “tributes” to my children are to follow.  They are all truly the best thing!

 

Those of you who follow my blogs know how proud I am of my kids.  Molly the Baker is no exception.  From a young age, Molly knew who she was and who she wanted to be.  She was always smart and focused.  She worked hard – two part time jobs – saved money, and followed her passion.  When we visited the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, we both immediately knew it was exactly where she needed to be.

CIA

From the Culinary Institute of America, she went on to a job at Duane Park Patisserie, where she helps create some of the masterpieces they are known for.

big rainbow color cakes

Rainbow cake

Her boss at Duane Park Patisserie is Chopped Champion Madeline Lanciani.

Chopped Champ

In addition to amazing cakes and other delicious treats, Duane Park Patisserie is also home to the Ring Ding Bar – the latest trend in sweets.

About a month back, Molly had the privilege of being part of making Meryl Streep’s birthday cake.

Meryl Streep Birthday!

Molly recently got an invite from celebrity chef, Jean-Pierre, to join him next time she is in town teach a few classes with him.  Cool stuff!

Sunshine Cuisine

And not only is she an amazing baker, but she’s also an amazing young woman.

Molly and Lein

That’s my girl with sweet Lein!  Keep following your dreams, Molly.  The sky’s the limit!

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1 box lasagna noodles (I used old style with the ruffed edges like they did on ATK)

1 jar marinara (I used Lucky’s brand tomato and basil)

1 can diced tomatoes (I used Del Monte with basil, garlic and oregano)

2 lb. cooked, drained, crumbled ground turkey

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 large sweet onion, diced

1 container cottage cheese

1 packet Knorr pesto sauce mix

1/2 c. butter or butter flavored spread, softened

1/4 c. shaved Parmesan cheese

1 c. Daiya mozzarella shreds

1 c. shredded Italian six cheese mix

3 whole wheat hoagie rolls

In a dutch oven,  saute onions in olive oil until softened, but not browned.  Add in canned tomatoes, and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add in cooked ground meat and marinara. Continue to cook on stovetop for 3-4 hours, or transfer to crock pot and cook on high 3-4 hours or low 7-8 hours.  This can be made ahead and refrigerated until use.  I cooked mine in the crock pot and when straight into assembly with the heated sauce.

About 20 minutes before you are ready to assemble your lasagna, place lasagna noodles in baking dish and pour enough boiling water over noodles to cover.  Let stand for 20 minutes.  America’s Test Kitchen chose this as their favorite method, over using no-bake or actually boiling the noodles.  After 20 minutes, lay noodles out on kitchen towels and pat dry.

Combine cottage cheese, 1/2 packet of pesto sauce, and 1/2 c. mozzarella shreds, set aside. On ATK, they used heavy cream, Fancy cheese, and garlic  I used what I had on hand.

Combine butter (or spread) with 1/2 packet of pesto sauce, set aside.

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Put 1/3 of the cooked sauce in the bottom of a deep baking dish.  Top with noodles.

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Next layer with half of the cottage cheese mixture sprinkled with a little more mozzarella shreds, followed by another layer of noodles.

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Layer with half of the remaining sauce.

Then more noodles.

Then the remaining cottage cheese mixture.

Then the last of the noodles.

Then the last of the sauce.

Top it all off with the Italian cheese and Parmesan.

Cover with foil and place in 350F oven for 30 minutes.

 

When 30 minutes for Lasagna is up, increase oven temperature to 450, and remove the foil.  Let lasagna cook for 5-10 more minutes.

Remove from oven.  Let it sit for 20 minutes before cutting.  Important!!

Meanwhile, cut hoagie rolls into garlic toast size portions.

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Spread with the butter, pesto mix.

Place in oven until golden – about 5-7 minutes.

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I menu plan and check out the sales at local markets all week long.  Wednesdays and Thursdays are the new sales days here, so I plan around that.

I thought about what makes me different from others who also love good food.  I recalled things people have said to me regarding my culinary explorations.  It comes down to my ability to feed my family good quality food at bargain prices by planning my menu around what it on sale.    Ensuring that leftovers don’t go to waste by freezing and/or utilizing them is another method for cutting food costs.  My menu plans and shopping lists are fluid, changing daily with my mood, and based on what is on clearance at the store.  I love those racks of stuff they are getting rid of, and the meats marked down on their last day!

I saw Rachel Ray speak about her menu planning, and she utilizes her own version of this method.  The difference is, she doesn’t have to focus on the cost of cooking what family members ask for, she has an unlimited budget.  My food budget varies from week to week, but averages around $150.00 per week to feed 6-8 adults dinner each night, while keeping leftovers or sandwich fixings around for daytime eating.  Oatmeal and cereal for breakfast most days.  Some yogurt, family breakfast on Sunday.

I have food on hand dinners for the next few days, but as of Friday, I will need more food.  The cupboard is nearly bare as far as my usual staples, i.e., canned beans, frozen seasoning veggies and side dish ingredients, frozen leftovers ready for future use.  So this week has the potential to be one that runs a little higher than usual.  I find it so rewarding to buy at the right price and food prepare items ahead to make meals quicker to fix.   Cooked meatballs, cooked and crumbled ground meat and sausage, and cooked (and then shredded) chicken in the freezer help make weeknight meals so much easier!

 

I always buy condiments and grains when I see them on clearance or for an exceptional price.  For instance, I have Lea and Perrins White Wine and Herb Chicken Marinade on hand for a future meal that I bought from the clearance rack for 2/3.49.  The regular price is $2.88 at another store on sale, so it was still a good price.  I also have some S & F Lemon Pepper Chef Sauce that was on sale.  I will definitely be on the lookout for some chicken on sale, since I freeze the chicken pieces in the marinade and defrost it the night before I’m cooking it.  We are a little spoiled in our family, though, and usually opt for boneless chicken.  Less flavor, no homemade broth, higher per pound price, but still first choice most of the time (unless I’m feeling poor, or their giving chicken with bones away).

At least once a week, I make a meal in the crockpot that requires little or no effort on the part of those eating it!  Chili.  Stew.  Chowder.  This usually falls on Wednesday night, when I shop at a new local market called Lucky’s where they have “sip and stroll” and I have to say the level of aggression among fellow shoppers is measurably lower since we are all sipping wine or beer.  People actually smile and sometimes even speak to each other!  It’s a bit of a novel experience nowadays to shop within such a nice vibe.  Their sales are amazing, too, and since Wednesdays you can shop the previous week’s sale or the coming week’s sale, I am presented with more options.  I also find Aldi to be a good choice for my Wednesday night shopping. I keep an eye out for when they have ground turkey on sale, or when I’m bringing food to a gathering and my ingredients are not on sale a the Lucky’s, Aldi, or on the weekly BOGO sale.  Staples such as baking needs, butter, sandwich fixings, breads, produce, and pastas and grains, not to mention canned goods and foil and the like, are all super reasonable at Aldi.  Lucky’s has an app where I can get additional discounts, and tonight I saved $11.00 off my $85.00 bill.  All the items were already on sale, and the discounts were on top of the sale, like coupons.

My daughter also turned me on to Ibotta app, and I’m hooked.  It’s like after-the-fact couponing.  Over the last six months, buying only items I would have bought anyhow, I’ve earned nearly $200.00 which is paid into my bank account using Paypal.  Sometimes when I forget to check what deals are available on Ibotta, I will check when I get home.    Referring friends gets you extra money.  Making your own “team” also gets you extra money.  I enjoy it.  I even got a discount recently shopping at Best Buy and on Groupon!

I find that I enjoy cooking more and we waste less food!  A win, win.

Happy bargain hunting and menu planning!

My kids are the best!  Mother’s Day couldn’t have been better!

KIMG0071

Flowers . . .

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Beautiful handmade card . . .

dishwasher

A new dishwasher!!

Coffee and my favorite movie!

scissors

Scissors – I’m always looking for them!

The best gift of all is knowing what good people my kids are.

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1 package RPs Pasta Company or other fresh lasagna sheets

2-3 lb. ground meat, browned and drained (I cook and freeze cooked ground meat when it’s on sale)

2 onions, chopped

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

2 c. chopped sweet peppers

1 jar marinara

2 Tbsp. pesto

2 Tbsp. minced garlic

4 c. leftover cooked quinoa

1 container ricotta cheese (2 lb)

1 packet Knorr pesto sauce mix – or Italian seasoning and Parmesian cheese

1 egg

1 package (8 oz) shredded Italian 6 cheese

SAM_3070I bought some fresh gluten free lasagna noodles.  It didn’t say how many sheets are in the package, so I worried that I couldn’t make enough layers, so I decided to try something new, inspired by pastitsio. By the way, the package has 12 sheets, enough for three layers!

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I cook the sauce overnight in the crock pot.  This step isn’t necessary, but it certainly adds another layer of flavor that can’t be replicated any other way.

Day 1:  The Sauce:

2-3 lb. ground meat, browned and drained (I cook and freeze cooked ground meat when it’s on sale)

2 onions, chopped

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

2 c. chopped sweet peppers

1 jar marinara

2 Tbsp. pesto

2 Tbsp. minced garlic

Combine ingredients in crock put.  Cook overnight 8-10 hours on low.  The house will smell amazing.

Day 2:  The Lasagna –

4 c. leftover cooked quinoa

2 c. cooked sauce

Combine quinoa and sauce.  Add a little more sauce if it looks too dry.

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1 container ricotta cheese (2 lb)

1 packet Knorr pesto sauce mix – or Italian seasoning and Parmesian cheese

1 egg

Combine cheese, pesto sauce mix and egg.

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Spray DEEP lasagna dish, and spread quinoa mixture into bottom.  Top with layer of half of the ricotta.

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Place layer of noodles on top of ricotta.

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Top with sauce in a thin layer.

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Top with layer of noodles.

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Top with remaining ricotta.

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Layer the last of the noodles.

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Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with shredded cheese.

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Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes.

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We really loved this.  My daughter suggested stuffing peppers with a quinoa mixture like I used for the first layer and I can’t wait to try it.

I made garlic toast using Texas toast multigrain bread and premade garlic spread.

Yummy!

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