Mostly about food, this blog is just a place for me to throw things that are of interest to me. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by an look around. This represents just some of the stops on the various pathways that this amateur home cook finds himself.

You may find that these foods tend toward protein and away from carbohydrates - this is due to diabetic issues, so I try to only sparingly use carbs, and good ones at that. Of course, sometimes I forget....

Feel free to drop me a line with any suggestions or just to let me know what you think. Thanks!

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I want to thank you for the time that you spend here, and hope that you can find useful things here.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Guilt-Free Pizza!

If you like pizza, but don't like the crust - or even if you like the crust but don't want all the calories and carbohydrates, this is for you!  Of course, you have to like mushrooms...

First, prepare the toppings you'll be adding to your meal.  Below there are two kinds of olives, two different peppers, onions and diced bacon bits.  Yes, REAL bacon.  Not shown are the sauce and mozzarella cheese. 


Of course, you'll need a base for your "pie".  On your baking sheet, lay out a matrix of mushroom caps from which you have carefully removed the stems.  Save the stems for use in another dish!  These happen to be Cremini mushrooms about 2" across, but any size will work, and the more alike in size they are the better.  White mushrooms will also work fine this way.

Fill each mushroom cap with a treasure trove of the diced bacon,  Cant have too much, and it makes sure every bite has some great bacon taste.

 Next, on goes the  sauce.  As thisk as it is, it will spread in the oven so you don't need a whole bunch.  Also remember that the mushrooms will give off liquid as they bake in the oven as well.

Mozzarella cheese time.  No need to be stingy, as whatever melts off is delicious in it's own right.  You'll see later.

Now, layer on your toppings.   I tried to keep them fairly even, but oh well.  If you get them too close to the edges, they will just slide off with the cheese.

Into the oven at 400° to finish.  You'll want to leave it in there until the veggies are done and the cheese starts to brown around the edged, as shown below.  After you serve up the mushroom pizzas, that crispy-edged cheese is a real guilty pleasure to snack on!

Here you go, plated and reaty to devour.  Note:  These are a lot more filling than you might think, I only ate 4 of them.  Hope you give this a try, and see how you like this way low carb version of your favorite pizza!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hot Chicks

My friend Brian asked me for a simple but delicious appetizer that everyone will like.  So for Brian and his Christmas party, here is how to assemble some Hot Chicks.  You will need the following:

  • Thick sliced bacon - one piece of bacon will do two Hot Chicks
  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts - depending on the size, you can get six to eight slices from each breast
  • Fresh jalapeno peppers - depending on the size, you can get eight to twelve pieces from each pepper
  • String cheese (mozzarella) snack sticks  - each stick will do four Hot Chicks
  • Toothpicks  - one per each
  • Your favorite spicy hot rub - I use a rub I developed for my pork buttts and spare ribs on my smoker, but you can use any commercial dry rub you particularly like - there are hundreds of them out there.

Do the prep work:
  1. cut each cheese stick in fourths
  2. cut the bacon slices in half
  3. cut the outer shell off the pepper and discard the stem and seeds, then cut pieces about the same size as the cheese
  4. out of the widest part of the chicken breast, cut thin slices crossways as shown below;  they will need to be long enough to wrap around the cheese and pepper.  Save the remaining end pieces of chicken for other use.

Lay a chicken strip overlapping one end of the bacon strip, and then add a piece of cheese and of pepper as shown below.

Roll the chicken strip over the filling like this:

Continue to roll the chicken and bacon up fairly snug, keeping the cheese and pepper centered inside.  Secure the roll with a toothpick.

These go pretty fast once you get the parts all ready...

Sprinkle  the tops of these with the rub mentioned above

Here is a little tray of 16, ready to firm up in the fridge before hitting the oven.

I put these on a middle rack in my electric oven on high broil with the door open. Mine take about 15  minutes, but depending on your oven - Your Mileage May Vary.  I'd start checking them after 10 minutes.  

You can also top them with extras after they are finished - here I used slices of tomato and avocado and some coarse ground pepper.  I have also served them with an avocado cream dip, very popular.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Texas-Style Chimichurri

Chimichurri is a great accent served with grilled beef or chicken, or even Mexican food!  It can even be used as a marinade, and frankly makes my mouth water just thinking about making it.

A traditional Argentinian chimichurri is made with parsley, fresh oregano, garlic, onion, red pepper, vinegar and vegetable oil.  I have made some small adjustments to this, both for convenience and for taste.  Frankly, I don’t like the taste of parsley but love cilantro – suit yourself.

Yield:  about 1 ½ cups

half a bunch of fresh cilantro, about ½ cup finely minced
1 tablespoon of dried chopped oregano
6 garlic cloves, crushed
½ tsp granulated garlic
½ cup finely diced/minced red onion
2 tsp of chili pepper flakes – I dump on the board with the garlic and mince them all together.  
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ cup of olive oil
½ t salt, or to taste
1 t black pepper, or to taste

Prepare the ingredients as directed above.  Add all the ingredients to a medium sized bowl and mix well.  It will appear very oily – it’s supposed to, just eat it!  Keep it in in the refrigerator and serve with your meal.  Can be kept in the fridge for a few days.

Low Sugar Atúna Jelly

Prickle Pear Cactus Fruit Jelly

This recipe has less sugar than most – only 7 grams of sugar per tablespoon of jelly.

4 cups tuna juice (requires around four to five pounds of fruit)
1/2 cup lemon juice
3 cups sugar, divided
50 grams of low sugar/no sugar pectin (about 1 ¾ ounces)

One dozen 4 oz. canning jars, lids and bands, ready for water bath
Hot water bath with enough space for the sealed jars

1.      Select some healthy cacti with a lot of nice dark red or purple fruit.  Depending on where you live, this may happen anywhere between August and October.

2.      Using some metal kitchen tongs, grab the fruits and twist lightly – they should detach easily.  Drop the fruit in your collection bucket and continue to the next one.  Continue until you have 4 or 5 lbs. of fruits.  Resist the temptation to recover already-dropped fruit from the ground, as it may have insect or disease issues.

3.      Burn off the spines by holding each fruit over a burner on the stove, or in the flame of a propane torch for a few seconds.  The idea here is to just singe off the little invisible spines, as you will never get them pulled by hand. You don’t need to sear the skin or darken the fruit.  If you don’t do this, I guarantee you will end up with some in your hands, regardless of how careful you are.

4.      Quarter the fruit and put the pieces into a good blender.  Push it down as you pulse the fruit into a mash.  You may have to add just the smallest bit of water to get it to start a nice puree, but don’t add more than absolutely necessary.  Continue with this until you have pureed all of the fruit.

5.      Okay, I confess for this next step I use a food mill, and I know that most people don’t have one.  It is the easiest and fastest way to process the pulp, so borrow one if you can.  Basically, you want to get all the pulp run through the finest mesh of the mill, leaving the seeds, skins and any other pieces behind, and collecting only the beautiful dark magenta syrup.

Alternatively, you can place it all in a pot and add water to just barely cover.  Boil the mash for about 10 minutes, occasionally mashing it in the pot to make sure all the juice is extracted.  Once this cooks a bit and can be handled, strain the mash through layers of cheesecloth or even t-shirt material laid in a sieve or strainer.  Once the juice has run out, gather the edges and squeeze it hard to extract all that remains.

6.      Pour a quart of the juice into a pot and add the lemon juice, then stir to mix well.

7.      Mix a half-cup the sugar and the specified amount of pectin together, and then sprinkle that evenly around the pot, stirring to mix well again.  Bring the pot to a full boil.

8.      Now you can slowly and evenly add the remaining sugar and bring the pot back to a full boil.  Boil for a minute or two, stirring constantly.

9.      Pour the now-thickening mixture into the pre-heated jars, leaving a small air space for expansion.  Wipe the rims carefully, add heated lids, and tighten bands to finger tight.  Process in the boiling water bath for ten minutes.

Uncover the pot, and remove from heat.  Remove jars from the pot and let cool on a rack.  You should hear the popping sounds as the jar lids seal.  Once cool, remove the bands, test the lids for a good seal, and clean and label your jars.  You will probably have some jelly left that wouldn’t fit in the jars – this is for you to enjoy right away, just keep it in the fridge.