Sunday, May 25, 2014

Parmesan Herb Faux-Zotto

Crazy name, true. Fabulous dish, yes!
Morgan is here with us this weekend. He's now 18. The last time I 'attempted' to serve cauliflower when he was here I made twice baked cauliflower casserole. You'd have thought he was having a seizure or something the way he acted when the serving spoon filled with warm, cheesy cauliflower goodness headed towards his plate!
This time was different. He looked at it. He smelled it. He smiled. He tasted it. He savored it. He went NUTS about it! Hearing his description was like winning a cooking show! He said the consistency, texture and flavor was incredible!
That, coming from an eighteen year old ... I'll take it!
INGREDIENTS:
1 large head of cauliflower
2 tablespoons Rosemary Infused Olive Oil
1 teaspoon chopped Garlic
6 fresh leaves of Lavender plus the buds off a large stalk
2 tablespoons Butter
1/2 cup Half & Half
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese (grated)
Sea Salt
Fresh ground Pepper

DIRECTIONS
1. Wash cauliflower and cut it into small pieces. In a food processor, pulse the cauliflower into the size of rice grains.

2. In a heavy pan, heat olive oil, adding salt and pepper and garlic. Sautee garlic until it's golden and aromatic. Add cauliflower, mixing well, to coat evenly.
3. Add lavender and more salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat, cover and allow to cook for 5 -7 minutes.



4. Add half and half, butter and parmesan cheese. Mix well and cover. Allow to cook an additional 5 - 7 minutes.
 After the liquids have thickened ...

5. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, December 2, 2013

RECIPE: Turkey Vegetable Soup

Tired of looking for recipes of casseroles for leftover turkey? I'm not sure what Turkey Tetrazzini is, but it sounds like it's loaded with carbs. 
After Zumba today I stopped by a local grocery store and picked up a few things to throw into a pot and call soup. I wasn't sure what I wanted, so I bought a few things I knew would be safe … Cabbage, Yellow squash, and spinach. s luck would have it, what I made was quite good and worthy of blogging.

INGREDIENTS:
4 cups Trader Joe's Turkey Broth (or equivalent)
3 cups cooked and chopped leftover turkey
2 cups chopped cabbage (I used one small head, minus the core)
2 cups fresh baby spinach
2 yellow squash, sliced
1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 sprig each of fresh rosemary, sage and thyme
1/4 cup Trader Joe's quick cook barley (optional)
5 - 6 croutons
A few sprinkles of fresh parmesan

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Pour broth into a soup pot and bring to a boil, adding cut cabbage, squash and turkey as they are ready. Cover.
2. Add fresh herbs, salt and garlic … Stir. 
3. Reduce heat and simmer soup for an hour. 

4. Add spinach, then the quick cook barley, if you choose to add it. 
5. Simmer for 20 more minutes.


6. Place soup into bowls, add a few crunchy croutons, then lightly sprinkle parmesan on top. 

Serve and enjoy!



RECIPE: Broccoli Salad


BROCCOLI AND BACON SALAD




Dressing:

1 cup Best Foods Real Mayonnaise or you can make your favorite homemade mayo
3 - tablespoons raw honey
1 - tablespoon real maple syrup
1 to 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
Mix all ingredients above in a bowl add vinegar to taste starting with 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing, and adding more if your taste requires.  It should be a bit sweet and tart.

Cook 8 to 10 slices of bacon, cut into thin slices about 3/4" to 1" thick and fry until crisp. Set on paper towel to drain off all grease. Set aside

In a large mixing bowl add;
2 large or 3 medium size crowns of broccoli, cut into small florets, chop and peel stems.  (I personally, don't use that many stems, but if you like they can be used.)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup almond slivers
1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries
1/2 fresh blueberries
1 large Fuji apple sliced in small to medium chunks ( before adding apples to salad drizzle with fresh lemon juice to prevent the apples from browning.)  then add to the rest of the ingredients.
Add cooked bacon pieces and mix.

Combine salad dressing with all the ingredients, refrigerate for a about 2 to 3 hours and serve.
It is delicious... Enjoy!


Thursday, November 28, 2013

RECIPE: Thanksgiving Dinner Trader Joe's Style

Every year of my life I have had Thanksgiving dinner with my family in Tennessee. Well, all but a couple of years when we were flying there on Thanksgiving Day. This year we are at home in California. Since I've always been in Tennessee, we've always spent the day with my family. My sister-in-law wasn't there this year either. Her daughter just gave birth to a beautiful baby earlier this week, so she's at their home helping them. She said this was the first time in 27 years she's not been with our family, too. Not to mention this was the first Thanksgiving without my dad. Anyway, we will be getting together soon, so we'll make up for lost time then. Dad definitely was the glue that held our family together. I miss you, dad.

So, with many changes in traditions, it's time to try new things and start our own traditions. Conrad and I talked over options of what to do for Thanksgiving dinner and we quickly ruled out making reservations at local restaurants. We discussed ordering a meal from a local restaurant or grocery store and quickly ruled that out, as well. We ended up cooking at home. We bought a 12 pound turkey ...


 I rinsed it, dried, it, put salt, pepper, fresh sage, rosemary and thyme inside, along with the neck and the organs and a slices sweet onion … 


 I also placed a couple of slices of bacon inside the cavity, as well. I rubbed the skin with olive oil, then generously salted and peppered the skin.
 I added a few more fresh herbs … 
 Then covered the bird in BACON! I had preheated the oven to 500°, so I put the bird in for 30 minutes before reducing the temperature to 350° for the duration of the roasting time. As you know, cooking time varied by oven and size of the bird, but it's done when the temperature reached 161 degrees in the thickest part of the breast. After it's done, take the bird out of the oven, place it on a large platter, cover it with foil and let it rest for 30 minutes before carving. 

While the bird was roasting I made dressing. Some folks call it stuffing, but I grew up calling it dressing.  I had never tried Trader Joe's Thanksgiving dinner fixin's before, but I will definitely use them again. To sum it up in one word … DELICIOUS!!!
I added a few of my own ideas to their stuffing mix recipe, including a pound of sage sausage, chicken broth instead of water for a richer flavor, and an egg to hold it together better.
First you empty 4 cups of water (or broth), 4 tablespoons butter, and the seasoning mix packet into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Stir often and let it gently boil for 3 - 5 minutes. I let it go 6.

 Fry the sausage … 
 Oh, and I added poultry seasoning! What stuffing/dressing is complete without it!
 Ready to go in the over … 350° for 50 minutes.
Yum! Finished product!
We also had grilled asparagus with olive oil, fresh thyme, salt, pepper, and fresh grated parmesan. In the background there's a triple crock pot with mashed potatoes for Conrad, mashed sweet potatoes for me, and Trader Joe's turkey gravy in the third one. 
Ding! And, the bird is ready! The bacon kept it moist, golden brown, and crispy skin with tender meat throughout!
Conrad made his famous deviled eggs, too. We splurged a little by having the dressing, a small piece of homemade rosemary bread, and cranberry sauce … Also from Trader Joe's. 
The table is set and dinner is served!
 Definitely a member of the clean plate club tonight!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

RECIPE: Cinnamon Roll Waffles (NOT Paleo or Low Carb!!)

Every once in a while we find recipes for things that are just too decadent to pass up. I've been very good following a Low Carb lifestyle and staying extremely active, so I decided to allow myself a cheat day. Yes, that would be a 24 hour period where I can, within reason, allow myself to deviate from my regular lifestyle choices. I ate a fully loaded pumpkin muffin for lunch yesterday and within minutes I was dealing with a major hot flash. For dinner I mostly ate low carb ... Raclette and steamed broccoli, but I did have a few strands of pasta, and that really pushed me over the edge. Hot flash city! (I will have to admit, though ... I was FREEZING, so the added heat wasn't totally unappreciated.)

So, this brings me to breakfast this morning. Before I vowed to stick to low carb eating, I had purchased one of those tubes of pre-made cinnamon rolls. You know the kind ... You unwrap the label and the tube splits open making sounds similar to a gun going off ... The kind that contains a small pot of sugary cinnamon glaze that seeps put inside the tube and creates a huge mess before you even realize it. Yes ... You know the one. Many of us grew up smelling them as they baked in the oven and we just about burst with excitement waiting to taste their yummy goodness. (Then paid dearly for it later!)

Today was no different from those childhood memories. Well, almost. The big difference was that the waffle iron was involved and the baking time was shortened considerably. Here's what happened ...

I started with a hot waffle iron, butter flavored grape seed oil and Pillsbury "Grands" cinnamon rolls.

 After spraying the heated waffle iron, I placed the raw cinnamon rolls inside and closed the lid.

 Once the green light came on, indicating they were done, I opened the lid and ... 
 Sure enough ... They were perfectly done!
 I warmed the cinnamon glaze and drizzled it on top of the waffles and served with fruit, meats and a spot of cheese.
 Makes for a beautiful breakfast!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

HIKE - Sweetwater Creek to Salmon Falls Bridge - November 7, 2013

Conrad and I have been exploring and researching the Folsom Lake/American River area. Now is the perfect time to do so because the lake level is VERY low. We are currently able to see structures, dams, roads, and ditches that were constructed during the olden days of panning for gold. 
We're in the parking lot readying our gear ... 
 First view of Hidden Bridge ... 
Zoomed in a bit with my trusty Olympus Sz-12. I love that little camera! 
 We're doing a "selfie" at the beginning of the hike. We do a lot of these ... 
 Autumn is definitely here, but you wouldn't know it by the temperature and all the sunshine!


 Conrad's standing on Natomas Ditch.That, and Negro Ditch are what we are here to see. See the tree line in the far off distance? That's the water line when the lake is at full pool. It's down about 60 feet right now.
 Lots of Canada Geese around. Lots.
 I've never seen this part of the river/lake when it's full, but I will come back in Spring and see how different it is.

 This is the Natomas Ditch. It's greatly filled in with silt and rocks, but it's pretty easy to follow ... For now ... 


 Also part of the ditch. Basically a shallow wall to hold the water in as it slowly descends to Folsom.

 An old water wheel. Not sure when this was added, but definitely later. You can now see Salmon Falls Bridge off in the distance. We'll cross it soon.




 A lock. This was used to divert the flow of water.


 Conrad has located the diversion dam. It's amazing how well constructed these things are considering how primitive the area was at the time.

 A BEAUTIFUL Autumn day!

 We've made the climb up the rocks to get to the bridge. 
 Now we're on the north side of the American River and are about to make the 3.5 mile trek back to our car.
 Okay, so it was quite rough, rugged, rocky and treacherous, so I put my camera away. Conrad shot some using his iPad, so I will add them below.

As we approach the end out our hike, so does the sun approach the end of it's day. 
 Hidden Bridge.
 One last display of vivid colors before saying good night ...
 An absolute stunning day. 
 Here's Sweetwater Creek. We have to cross it, then we're less than a mile away from the car.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
And now for Conrad's photos ...
Sweetwater Creek Dam

 I'm ready for the adventure. I didn't have time to change clothes after an hour of Zumba, so here I am!









 A close up of the construction of the diversion dam. Unbelievable.
 There I go ... Trekking across the rocks ...  
 Salmon Falls Bridge as seen from the shoreline on the south side of the American River.

 We've turned into true mountain goats today!
 This is part of Negro Ditch. Some serious construction happened here!
 WHEW! We've made is over lots of rocks and boulders!
 The road ahead loots more inviting, though rocky.
 The ditch.

 An interesting placement of rocks? Who did it? When? We have no idea, but I pulled out my compass and it's spot on!
 Part of an old motercycle, perhaps?
 The south side of Hidden Bridge. Even after being underwater for the better part of the last 60 years, this appears to be the only damage.