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Friday, June 16, 2017

PORK TENDERLOIN WITH CRANBERRY CHUTNEY

I loved the flavor of this dish!   My sides to go along with the meat were asparagus and roasted potatoes.  Yum!!!
I reviewed a number of recipes online and chose to combine elements from several of those I found.

INGREDIENTS:

ROAST
*2 ½ lb. pork loin roast or pork tenderloin 
2 Tbsp. Herbs de Provence
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. lemon juice 

CHUTNEY
1 (16 oz.) can whole cranberry sauce
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup diced onion
1 clove garlic minced

Mince onions and garlic and brown in an olive oil and butter mixture in a medium skillet on medium high heat.  Remove from heat and drain on paper towel.  

In a medium bowl blend the cranberry sauce, lemon juice and browned garlic/onion mixture until well incorporated.  Cover and set aside until ready to serve.  

In a small bowl, mix together the herbs, onion powder, brown sugar, olive oil and lemon juice. Season both sides of the meat with salt and pepper.   Rub the olive oil mixture over the (top side) meat.   Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat, add 2 Tbsp. olive oil.  Sear the meat on all sides using tongs to flip the meat from side-to-side.   Slide the skillet into a 450 degree oven for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until the internal temp is 155-160 degrees.   Let rest approximately 5-10 minutes; serve with some chutney mixture spooned over the top.  Guests can add additional chutney as desired. 

Enjoy!

*  I went with two pork tenderloin versus the roast.  Also, if you don't have a cast iron skillet, you can roast the meat in the oven at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes per pound.  

Sunday, June 11, 2017

WALTZ LENGTH VEIL

A waltz length veil is truly a unique length and it may be one of my favorites.  Perfect when you're looking for elegant, but maybe not too formal.  It can also work well when the train of a gown is elaborate and long and you want a statement veil but one that doesn't compete with the train.

This particular bride is wearing a true ivory lace gown (with a champagne underlay).  In searching for the perfect lace, I stumbled on a shop in Latvia with an absolutely exquiste lace that was labeled as ivory.   When I received it, it was clearly an off-white, not a true ivory.....but the lace was gorgeous. So, I went about dying the lace in a tea bath.  I have to tell you I had never done so before, so I was a bit nervous.   I used a minimal amount of tea and hovered over the bowl the entire time it was bathing in the steeped tea.  I probably squealed like a pig when I took it out of the bath and realized how well it worked.   It is a beautiful match to the gown!


I think the pictures below show the original color and the finished product pretty well.  And as you can see from the picture above, it looks awesome with the gown.
A waltz length hits right about the back of the knee.

Due to the plunging back and beautiful covered buttons on the back of the gown, I went with light gathers at the comb allowing all the beauty of the gown to shine through.

Erin also had me make her a keepsake garter.  I chose to continue the lace theme from her dress and veil and make her a one-of-a-kind garter with some remnants from other projects I had worked on.

Thank you so much for letting me be a part of your special day.

Best Wishes to you and Devin!











Sunday, June 4, 2017

CATHEDRAL VEIL WITH APPLIQUES

What a treat to work with beautiful Kylynn!  Knowing that she wanted me to create her veil, she invited me to meet her at the bridal salon during one of her fittings.   Being able to see the gown's style, silhouette and embellishments allowed me to determine what might look best for the cathedral length veil she had her heart set on.

It was just the inspiration I needed to create the perfect veil to accompany her gown!  Based upon the fact that her gown had a number of lace appliques on it, I chose to use matching appliques for the veil (with a little extra sparkle in the way of pearls and sequins).
I knew I didn't want the veil to get completely lost in the train and/or compete with the gown, so I chose to make it a bit longer, and extra wide.  This picture shows the beauty of both the gown and the veil.....and of course, the love of this sweet couple just after they were married!


The veil has a total of 12 appliques around the perimeter of the train, as well as one on each side at about the knee.

When creating a custom veil, especially one like this, it can take me a good couple of hours cutting the appliques in different sizes and shapes and placing them on the veil to create just the right design.  I pin, move, pin again, and so on until it feels and looks just right.
I love the process....and when I land on the design, it's magical! Then it's hours of handstitching the appliques to the tulle.   Kylynn's veil is truly a one-of-a-kind, which is exactly what custom made is all about.  The beautiful picture to the upper right is from Kylynn's boudoir shoot.  No doubt, one of my veils has never looked so sexy!
I also made a garter set for Kylynn, that she also wore in her boudoir shoot.  Once again, she told me she wanted some bling and then gave me the creative license to design something for her.

Thank you Kylynn for making my designs look fabulous and for being such a peach to work with!

Best wishes to you and Mario on a long and happy marriage!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

KEY LIME PIE PARFAIT

If you're looking for a little lighter dessert, this may be the ticket.  I enjoyed this one, but recommend you might try it in smaller servings given the response I got from my guests.
As you can see I chose to use wine glasses, but my guests couldn't finish it, because it was so sweet. Me, on the other hand I was able to finish mine no problem!   If you choose the wine glasses, you'll get about 4 servings from this recipe.  However, smaller glasses would yield 6 easily.

INGREDIENTS:

1 8oz. pkg. cream cheese softened (I used the 1/3 less fat variety)
1 14oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup graham crackers ground into fine crumbs
2 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. melted butter
whipped cream (optional)
*The juice of 3-4 key limes, or more if you like it extra tart.

1.  In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese on high until smooth.  Reduce the speed to low and slowly pour in the condensed milk and beat on low until completely incorporated.

2.  Roll limes on a clean cutting board to loosen juice and cut, squeeze juice into a separate bowl and beat on low as you add the juice to the cream cheese mixture.

3.  Pulse graham cracker crumbs in a food processor (you can also use the rolling pin method with a large plastic bag).  Add the sugar and butter and mix until it resembles wet sand.

4.  Add a layer of graham cracker crumbs to the bottom of the glass, spoon the filling on the top and repeat with another layer of each.  

5.  Top with whipped cream and a lime wedge for serving.

**this was the first time I had worked with key limes.  Mine were very small; smaller than a golf ball.  So I used six for the juice, personally I feel like I could have used a couple more for the right flavor. 

Enjoy!

recipe adapted from: www.cookcraftlove.com

Monday, May 8, 2017

PENNE WITH SAUSAGE, EGGPLANT AND FETA

This is a super easy atypical pasta recipe with a wonderful flavor.  It has a unique combination of ingredients that you may not generally consider putting together, but it works!

It's hard to believe, this was the first time I've eaten eggplant!
This recipe makes a generous amount of pasta; 4 servings (@ 2 cups per serving)...or smaller portions and leftovers!

INGREDIENTS:

½ cup cubed, peeled eggplant (about 1 pound)
1 lb. bulk pork breakfast sausage
2-4 garlic cloves (the number is based upon your liking)
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
6 cups hot cooked pasta (about 10 oz. raw)
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Cook eggplant, sausage, and garlic in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for approximately 5-8 minutes or until the sausage is browned and the eggplant is tender.  In the meantime, you can begin preparing the pasta.

2.  Add tomato paste, and the next three ingredients (through tomatoes); cook over medium high heat approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

3.  Once pasta has been drained; place in a large bowl.  Add tomato mixture, cheese and parsley; toss well. 

Enjoy!

recipe c/o:  adapted from my recipes.com

Saturday, April 29, 2017

SWITCHPLATES

So I have a thing about boring white switchplates staring at me.  I know, it's odd....but when it came to my studio, I thought I can really have some fun with this.
While we've used wood, brushed nickel, and other specialty plates in our homes before.  I was looking for something a bit splashier.  So it came to me that I could take advantage of the many varieties of washi tape out there these days and make something really fun!


There was a particular variety out there that caught my attention since it not only had some of the color theme I have going on in my studio, but it had a watercolor feel to it.....and I'm a sucker for abstract water color.

It really was easy, just a means of cutting strips of the tape, using an exacto knife to slit the tape to expose the light switch rectangles and then brushing on mod podge for a protective finish.  I used two coats of mod podge, letting it thoroughly dry in between the two coats.

Most of the washi tape comes 2-3 complimentary colors in one package, so you have some variety.    In fact, if you head to Hobby Lobby, Michael's or other stores that carry craft items, they have a crazy amount to choose from. There are even some really fun ones out there that would work well in kid's bedooms or play areas.

For the switchplate at the bottom of the stairwell as you enter my studio I went with a gold foil polka dot with a striped foil for the border.  I was really starting to get into it.....but alas, I only have the three.  So I chose to cover two in the  watercolor pattern and the other is gold foil.

So fun!



Saturday, April 22, 2017

BAKED FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE

Okay people....watch out....this recipe could be very dangerous!  It is so delicious, you may need to designate a loved one to assist you with portion control.

This dish was the "sweet" that I chose for my Easter brunch.  It makes a huge panful, and even though I had seven people at brunch I ended up with half of a 9x13 pan of leftovers.   That could also have to do with the fact that I had a lot of food....none-the-less....if you want to feed more like 2-4 people, be sure to cut the recipe in half.
I made this the day of, but it can be made the night before and baked in the morning.  Unlike many recipes, the streusel amount is very generous, offering a thick layer of crunch topping.   Personally, I loved the proportion of streusel to casserole.


INGREDIENTS:

Streusel
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
½ cup salted butter (sliced into 8 pieces)
4 tsp. ground cinnamon

Casserole
12-13 cups cubed, hearty bread (I bought two bakery style loves; 1 sourdough and 1 wheat)
8 large eggs
3 cups whole milk
½ cup white sugar  (I went a little light on this since the topping has so much sugar)
½ tsp. vanilla extract
*pure maple syrup for serving


DIRECTIONS:

Make the streusel.  Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, mix well using your hands until it resembles chunky, damp sand.  Cover and keep in fridge to chill until you finish assembling the casserole. 

Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray (sides and bottom).  Place the 12 cups of bread cubes in the dish.  In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, salt and vanilla whisking thoroughly to incorporate.  Pour egg mixture evenly and slowly over the bread cubes.  Gently toss to ensure even coating of all bread cubes.  If there seems to be too much excess liquid, add another cup of bread cubes until liquid seems mostly absorbed (there will be a thin layer of excess liquid at the bottom).

If making the night before, cover and place in fridge.  Gently toss the bread cubes again before baking.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Sprinkle chilled streusel evenly over the top of the casserole.  Bake for 45-60 minutes or until topping is nicely browned and bubbly.  If it starts to look too browned at the 45 minute mark, loosely tent with foil and continue baking as needed.  (Mine was perfect at 60 minutes)

Allow to cool about 10-15 minutes and serve with warm maple syrup.  

Enjoy!
recipe c/o: www.chewoutloud.com

Sunday, April 16, 2017

MERINGUES WITH LEMON CURD

I've seen these little treats multiple times, and each time I thought how perfect they would be for Easter.  So finally this year, I went ahead and made these little babies.
They're definitely different....light and airy meringues filled with a crisp and tangy homemade lemon curd.   They really aren't too difficult to make and you can make the curd up to 3 days ahead of time and keep it refrigerated until you're ready to fill your meringues.

My family enjoyed them!

INGREDIENTS:

Lemon Curd:
3 large eggs 
6 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
6 Tbsp. strained fresh lemon juice (from approximately 4 small lemons)
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

Meringues:
4 large egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1 ½tsp. sugar
1 tsp. white vinegar 
1 tsp. cornstarch

DIRECTIONS:  

This recipe makes approximately 14-16 

Lemon Curd
In a medium saucepan, combine eggs, sugar and lemon zest; whisk until smooth.  Add lemon juice and butter and cook over medium heat whisking constantly until mixture has thickened....about 7-9 minutes.  Watch carefully after it foams to be sure it doesn't boil.  When mixture is thick, immediately pour through strainer over a bowl.  Cover the surface with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto the surface of the curd, and refrigerate a minimum of 3 hours and up to 3 days.

Meringues
Preheat oven to 200 degrees...line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment.  Combine egg whites and vanilla in a clean, dry mixing bowl. Beat with a clean dry whisk attachment on medium speed until foamy; about 30 seconds.  Increase mixer speed to medium-high and whip until mixture is white and has increased in volume, about 1 minute.  With mixer running, add 1 cup sugar in a slow, steady stream.  Continue to whip until whites are shiny and form stiff peaks, 3-4 minutes longer.  Add white vinegar and cornstarch and whip briefly to incorporate.  mixture should be thick, stiff and glossy. 

Use a piping bag to create the "nests" adding additional height to the sides to form a well.  I tried this with about 6-8 and switched over to using two large spoons, which I liked even better.  Drop a large spoonful onto the parchment paper and create the well by using the back of the spoon. 

Unlike the rest of my cookie recipes, these don't stack well in a container especially once they're filled and they certainly aren't going to freeze well, so be sure you don't make too many or you'll have extras in your fridge.

Enjoy!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

GRASSHOPPER SUGAR COOKIES

When a girl needs a chocolate fix, you've gotta find something that's really going to satisy that craving, and oh boy these babies are just the ticket!

Moist and thick chocolate sugar cookies, covered with a fluffy mint frosting and topped with an Andes Mint drizzle.  Hello!!
So good....this recipe makes 48+ cookies, so needless to say I have a ton in my freezer right now.  I thought I'd pull some out for our Easter brunch in a couple of weeks.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. water
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
5 ½ cups flour
1 cup cocoa powder 
½ tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. salt

Frosting:
1 cup butter, at room temp
4-5 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. mint extract
optional:  green food coloring

Drizzle:
½ cup Andes mint candies, or check to see if your baking aisle has mint chocolate chips, they would work just as well.

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.  In a large bowl cream together butter, oil, 1½ cups sugar, powdered sugar, water, eggs, and vanilla
2.  In a medium bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.
3.  Add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until combined.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
4.  Uncover the dough.  Place remaining ¼ cup sugar in a bowl.  Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.  Roll dough into golf ball size balls and place on the baking sheet 3-4 inches apart.
5.  Use the bottom of a tall glass cup for pressing the cookies.  Sprinkle water on the bottom of the glass then dip into the sugar.  Press cookies to about ¼ inch thickness.
6.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes (mine worked great at 9 minutes).  They should be slightly undercooked. 
7.  While the cookies are baking or cooking, prepare the frosting.  Cream the butter for 3 minutes until very light and fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time until desired consistency and sweetness is reached (I used 4 cups of powdered sugar).   Mix in the mint extract and green food coloring.
8.  For the drizzle, melt the candies in the microwave (in a baggie) for approximately 45 seconds on high power.  Snip off the corner and drizzle over the frosted cookies. 

To store...place cookies in a cookie tin and chill in the freezer for a couple minutes.  Top with a layer of waxed paper and continue the process.  

Enjoy!

recipe c/o:  lecremedelacrumb.com

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

MATERNITY SASH

I was tickled when a former bride of mine (I made her wedding veil) recently contacted me to make her a maternity sash.   She and her husband are expecting their first child soon.   Ryan wanted to wear a sash to show off her growing baby bump at the baby shower being thrown in her honor this coming April.

She gave me an idea of the colors and style she was looking for and let me take it from there.  I always appreciate when I'm given the latitude to let my creative juices flow!!
handmade 
This was fun for me....knowing that Ryan was looking for blue, grey and white, I started pawing through all my goodies and found a really good variety of supplies.  The only thing I needed to get was the 2" ribbon for the sash itself.   From there, I started putting my vision into action.

I knew I wanted a large flower for the focal point.  So I began there and then branched off with other ideas.  This centerpiece flower is comprised of a number of layers of grey lace, white embroidered netting and white polyester fabric cut into a floral shape and sewn together.
handmade
store bought
I decided to make several types of fabric flowers to add some variety.  The blue flowers are made with ribbon, using a couple different techniques, and the white one is one of my faves to make.  It involves melting the fabric over a candle so the fabric curls under the heat.


I had two other store bought versions of flowers that I ended up incorporating as well.   The finishing touch was the use of some blue beaded trim that I used to frame the flowers.  I love the way it added some sparkle to the piece.

I'm looking forward to getting a couple pictures from the baby shower with it on Ryan !


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

SLOW COOKER EGGS FLORENTINE

This is a tasty recipe made right in the crockpot which is ready in about two hours time.  This past week, I put all the ingredients in the crockpot, went to the Rec Center to catch an exercise class, and by the time I got home, I had a wonderful hot and protein packed meal waiting for me!

INGREDIENTS:

1½ cups cheddar cheese, grated and divided
9 oz. pkg. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup white bread, cubed (approximately 2-3 slices)
1 cup fresh button mushrooms, sliced
½ cup green onions, thinly sliced
6 eggs
1½ cups milk
½ cup heavy cream
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
cooking spray

DIRECTIONS:

Lightly coat the slow cooker with cooking spray.  Scatter half of the cheese in the bottom of the slow cooker, and layer the spinach, bread, mushrooms and green onions over the cheese.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, salt, pepper and garlic powder until thoroughly combined.  Pour the egg batter over the layered mixture.  DO NOT STIR OR MIX. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.

Cover.  Cook on High 1½- 2 hours.

Enjoy!

SPECIAL NOTE:  The first batch I made, I used our old avocado green crockpot (I know many of you know the one I'm talking about).  If you use that variety, it will take about 3 hours to cook.  The newer versions which are wider allow the ingredients to spread out and cook faster. 

recipe c/o:  getcrocked.com

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

HANDMADE NOTE CARDS

I think I've mentioned before, every time I use my Silhouette machine I learn something new....and this project stood true to that fact.  Both my daughter and I were in need of some notecards and to me, if you have the ability to customized your cards, then by all means do it!  So, here's a couple that I put together recently.
The template of this "thanks" card was something I purchased from the Silhouette online store, so I can't take credit for that.  But, I will take credit for the color combo and the fabric and burlap flowers as the finishing touches.

I cut the design using an ivory card stock, then used a navy blue card stock underneath to highlight the design and lettering.  

A handwritten note and a gift card on the inside and it's the perfect touch for a special someone.

The teal note card below is ALL MINE.....and boy, did I learn a lot on this project.  For those of you who know of my daughter's photography business, teal is her official color and the KB logo has been her trademark since she began her business six years ago.
This project allowed me to learn how to "weld".  I won't go into the detail, because there are a number of  YouTube videos out there on the subject.  The one that I found most helpful was a little British lady who did an awesome job of showing each step along the way.    I would pause the video at each step and actually complete it as she did it.   What a huge help!

I knew I wanted to incorporate the KB logo and use teal as the backing, but until I learned how to "weld" the letters, it was completely cutting the KB out of the cardstock....so frustrating!!     You should have heard me squeal when it actually worked!!  

To finish it off, I actually typed out her message on the teal cardstock, sent the cardstock through my printer and then cut and glued them to the white cover.  Now they're all ready to go, and she just grabs one as she needs it.   So this one is actually more of a "postcard" design with the message on the back side, whereas the Thanks card is a tent style with the message on the inside.

I'm so pleased with how they turned out, and now they're both saved in my design files, so I'm all good to go the next time I need to make some!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

RE-PURPOSED END TABLE

It's been a while since I had my hands busy with a good DIY project, so I was really looking forward to working on something.  Now that I've been settled into my studio for a little over a year, I've been able to really see what's working and what's not.  I'm happy to report, all-in-all I'm thrilled with the layout, design, and functionality.  In other words, I done good!!

I have noticed a couple things, little additions that would be nice and this project definitely fits the bill.  I had bought a little wooden stool for my fitting room but since it was taller and had a small seat,  I found it didn't have the functionality for my clients that I was hoping for.  So I started looking for an upholstered bench.  First, they're tough to find: secondly, most that I liked were very pricey, and thirdly, they just weren't quite what I was looking for.

So, I started down the path of looking at thrift stores, and Craig's list to find something (antique/vintage) that I could work with.  I wasn't having a lot of luck.  So, I had the brainstorm one day that I can find a lot of tables at thrift stores, so couldn't I convert a table into a bench?  Hello, hubby ... "I've got an idea", is usually how I start.   After he sits down and takes a deep breath, I then share.  He's the one that I use to vet my crazy ideas and then handle things like drilling, etc.  After all, he's a lot better at it than I am.  And, I know deep down he enjoys it!    So as it turns out, my idea had possibilities....so here's my our adventure!
BEFORE 

AFTER 
When I bought the table (for $7.99) the glass was missing, which was fine since I wasn't going to need it anyway.  My husband figured out the logistics of what it would take to make the table sturdy enough to sit on......

You can see that one of the first things he did was add some wooden slats on the underside to add strength and support for the wood ovals he was going to create to fill the space where the glass used to be.

Three wooden ovals were cut to officially turn the table into a bench.

A fourth oval was cut out of another board which I used for my part of the project, which was the actual upholstering.

I found a great piece of upholstery fabric in a neutral color at JoAnn's, and also picked up a piece of two inch foam and some 1 ½ button shells that I could cover in the upholstery fabric since I knew I wanted to tuft the top.

I had my husband drill holes about ¼ inch apart into the board.  I used that to help me stablize and secure the buttons versus just going through the foam.   I used an upholstery needle, and embroidery thread and started from the top of the piece and went through the foam into the drill hole securing the thread through the button shank.  On the underside of the board I tied my thread to muslin pieces to prevent thread breakage as I was tugging and knotting the buttons.


Then, for those of you who have upholstered, this should sound familiar. I worked with the board side up and began using the staple gun to secure my upholstery fabric.  This step takes kneeling on the board and really pulling the fabric tightly against the foam as you staple.

I'm really pleased with the way it turned out. I know my clients are going to love this in the changing area!   I have to tell you, I really debated about painting/distressing the wood since many of my pieces in the studio are distressed....but, the wood was in such good condition, I chose to keep it the way it was.
The few knicks that were on the legs, I was able to camouflage reasonably well with one of those touch up stain pens from Home Depot.

There are some beautiful wood carvings on two of the ends, as well as on the legs....and, I absolutely love the lion claw feet!  I really wanted something vintage, and to me the lion claw feet are classic.  


I have to tell you, the thrift store had two of these....I was so tempted to buy both of them! Fortunately, the rational side of my brain won out that day.  

Saturday, February 4, 2017

MEATLOAF

Okay meatlovers...this one's for you!  It took me a couple tries to perfect it, so here it is! Add a side of potatoes and some veggies and you're good to go......

INGREDIENTS:

*1 lb. lean ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
3/4 cup diced onion
½ cup catsup
1 egg
1 Tbsp. worchestershire
2 cloves minced garlic
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 cup Quaker Oats
favorite BBQ sauce

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix meats together in a large bowl using your hands.  Add all other ingredients and continue blending until well mixed.

Form two loaves and place in large baking pan.

Twenty minutes before its done, drain off any grease/liquid and generously coat the top of the meatloaf with the BBQ sauce.  

Let sit 5 minutes prior to slicing.  

Enjoy!

* my freezer is loaded with ground venison thanks to my husband (the great white hunter), so just about anything that calls for ground beef, I substitute venision.  Since the vension is so lean, any drippings in the pan are from the pork.  By-the-way, this freezes great!  So, we usually take one of the loaves and freeze it to enjoy at a later date.

recipe adapted from: epicurious.com

Friday, January 27, 2017

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER

So just like you, I saw a number of roasted cauliflower recipes all over social media.  In my quest to add more veggies into my diet, those recipes that look interesting/yummy and include veggies I can tolerate are definitely worth a try.   I have to tell you, I thoroughly enjoyed roasted cauliflower!

Now, based upon reviews that I read, I chose to try the recipe that used cauliflower pieces versus the whole head.   Reviews for recipes which roasted the entire head whole, indicated it didn't cook evenly so some of the cauliflower was soft and other parts were hard.
I apologize for the small portion, I had to snag this picture before it was all gone!!  I made an entire head and this single serving was all that was left.  That should give you a good indication as to how tasty this dish is....and it's really easy!

INGREDIENTS:

1 head fresh cauliflower
¼ cup olive oil
4 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
½ cup parsley
¼ cup grated parmesan
1 clove garlic
kosher salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.   Rinse and cut up the cauliflower; place in an 11x7 inch baking dish.

In a small bowl, mix the oil, 3 Tbsp, of the mustard, and salt and pepper to your liking.  Brush this mixture over the cauliflower and placed in a large baking dish. 

Bake at 450 for 20-30 minutes until soft. 

While the cauliflower is baking, mix together the parsley, parmesan and the remaining mustard. Sprinkle this mixture over the cauliflower and serve.

Enjoy! 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

ALMOND BISCOTTI

I enjoy a good biscotti now and again, especially with a hot cup of tea or coffee for dunking!  This recipe had a wonderful almond flavor which was exactly what I was looking for.   Even better I already had all the ingredients in the pantry, except for one so I made a substitution that I'll share with you.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
*3 Tbsp. brandy
2 tsp. pure almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup whole almonds with skin, lightly toasted, cooled, and coarsely chopped
3 large eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
1 ½ tsps. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt

DIRECTIONS:

NOTE:  To roast the almonds, spread almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 10-15 minutes; until they begin to turn golden.  (I did not chop them per the directions, basically because I forgot.....but, I liked the larger pieces in the finished product)


Stir together sugar, butter, *brandy, and extracts in a large bowl, then stir in almonds and eggs.  Add flour, baking powder, and salt until combined. 

Cover dough and chill for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees with the rack positioned in the middle.

Using moistened hands, halve dough and form 2 (14x3 inch) loaves.  Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. 

Bake until pale golden, about 30 minutes.  Carefully transfer loaves to a rack and cool 15 minutes. Using a serrated knife, slice into 3/4 inches slices, on the diagonal.  

Arrange biscotti with one cut side down, on a clean baking sheet (again, I lined mine with parchment) and bake until golden, 20-25 minutes.  Transfer to rack to cool completely.

*since I didn't have any brandy in the house, I substituted  creme de' almond liquer that I had.  It gave the biscotti an even bolder almond flavor and slight pink color! 

Enjoy!

Friday, January 13, 2017

SPLIT PEA SOUP

To me, there's nothing better than a bowl of soup in the winter months...whether it be lunch or dinner. I'm totally satified with a hearty soup for a meal.   A month or so ago, I tried a tomato bisque that was absolutely delicious!  With that success, I thought I'd try a split pea soup.  I've always enjoyed split pea and was dreaming of a creamy pea soup with chunks of ham.  This recipe definitely delivered.....and the best thing is, you can throw all the ingredients in the crockpot and let it simmer all day long.
**I soaked the peas in 2 quarts of water overnight.  There are mixed reviews as to whether you need to do this especially when you're cooking the soup in the crockpot, so you decide.

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb. split peas
2 cups carrots, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
32 oz. chicken broth
½ tsp. thyme
2 cups water
2 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups ham, cubed
1 cup chopped celery
1 Tbsp. black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Remove peas from the water and add them and the rest of the ingredients to a crockpot.  Cover and cook 7-8 hours on low, or 4-5 hours on high.   Remove bay leaves before serving.

Tip:
I like my soups a bit creamier, so I chose to thicken mine up before serving.  To do that, I removed approximately 3 cups of the soup and placed it in a blender, I also added ¼ cup of instant mashed potato flakes (it was a great thickener...I love google!) to the soup.  Puree for approximately 30-45 seconds and then added that mixture back into the crockpot.  For me, it was the perfect consistency!  
Now today, after chilling in the fridge all night long, I found the soup needed to be thinned a bit, so I just added a bit of milk.  So good!!!

Enjoy!

Recipe c/o:  familyfreshmeals.com

Thursday, January 5, 2017

EGG AND SWEET POTATO BREAKFAST CASSEROLE

I'm always up for trying new healthy breakfast recipes.  If they include eggs, I'm definitely interested since I'v found that eggs for breakfast can really keep me satisfied for a long time.  This particular recipe included sweet potatoes, which I found really intriguing so I gave it a whirl.
I would give it a "good" versus "great".....but you may think differently.  It really wasn't too tough to put together and it serves up nicely.

INGREDIENTS:

1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 lb.. low fat breakfast sausage (turkey or pork...I used the Jimmy Dean's pork variety)
12 large eggs
assembling the casserole
1 small sweet potato
1 cup baby spinach

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a *9x9 baking dish with coconut oil or cooking spray.  Also add 1 Tbsp. coconut oil to a skillet set to medim-high heat.  Brown the breakfast sausage.  

While the sausage is browning, peel and slice your sweet potato thin to ensure they come out tender.  Line the baking dish with the potatoes.  In a medium bowl beat the eggs with a whisk and season with salt and pepper.

Top the potatoes with the sausage, then pour the eggs over the top.  Layer the spinach on top, as well as any other ingredients you may like.  (ideas:  tomatoes, onions, asparagus, cheese)  I added about ¼ cup of shredded mozarella. 

*as you can see from the picture, I used a cake tin since I don't have a 9x9 dish.

recipe c/o:  www.aimeemars.com