Tag Archives: food

Green Smoothie

Green Smoothie 1(edited)Pin

Green Smoothie 2 (e)Pin

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I do not consider myself a health nut, although my husband who thinks vegetables are the scourge of the earth might not agree. Lately I have been making green smoothies for either breakfast or lunch and have added some ingredients that are even strange and different to me.

About a year ago, I was diagnosed as being anemic. It really came as a surprise but totally explained my need for an afternoon nap and other nagging issues.  It also explained my cravings for steaks, spinach salad and I would say bacon but who really needs a medical reason to crave bacon?

Iron supplements helped but I really wanted to boost my progress nutritionally.  I have a friend who is using diet to help with her seasonal allergies and asthma so I thought that diet might also help me.

I have never been a big eater or a morning person so I have found that this smoothie as a breakfast or lunch alternative meal is very helpful.  I have also discovered that I am not nearly as tired in the afternoons as I once was.

Surprisingly enough I prefer the fruity smoothies without the chocolate.  (I cannot believe I just admitted that!)  When we lived in another state, I was a member of a spa and gym facility.  The juice bar offered the best chocolate peanut butter smoothie I have ever had.  I have no idea what was in it, and my own experiment to recreate it has failed miserably, so at this juncture I will stick to the fruity ones.

Here is my favorite recipe so far…

1 cup Almond milk

1 Banana peeled and cut into half

1/2 cup fresh Baby Spinach

1/4 cup fresh Raspberries

2 tablespoons of Greek Yogurt

1 teaspoon Chia Seeds

Add all ingredients in a blender, puree or blend well.  Enjoy!

Cheers!

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler!

Red Beans & Rice edited 2Pin

Happy Fat Tuesday, y’all!

I am so excited that it is Fat Tuesday! I love the Mardi Gras season! Ever since I moved to Mobile, Alabama as a teenager I embraced Carnival and she has loved me back, even as I have traveled and moved away. She lives in my heart and as many in Mobile and New Orleans can attest, will always stay.
Even though I cannot be in my beloved town tonight, my family and I will celebrate and commemorate while having Red Beans and Rice.

I fancy the idea that my husband’s very Cajun family would have loved this dish!

If you, too, are missing Mardi Gras, your roots or hometown, this meal will bring you comfort and a satisfied belly.

Please enjoy Cibbit’s Cajun Red Beans and Rice!

1 large yellow or sweet onion chopped

2 ribs of celery finely copped

1 pack smoked sausage sliced (I used Hillshire Farms Beef)

1 can Hunts Diced Tomatoes

1 large 14-15 oz. can Red Beans, drained and rinsed

1 large 14-15 oz. can Light Red Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups chicken stock

8 oz of beer or white wine

4 servings of cooked rice (following package directions)

Salt to taste

¼ teaspoon of black pepper       

½ teaspoon white pepper

1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning

1 tablespoon File Gumbo Seasoning

Minced garlic

½ teaspoon onion powder

2 Bay Leaves

In a large pot, (I use my Le Creuset 2 quart Dutch oven) heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil then add chopped onion and celery until well sautéed.  When vegetables are softend, add minced garlic.  Allow to cook for one minute and then add beer, tomatoes with juice, and both cans of beans and chicken stock.  Add all seasoning, stir, cover and bring to a boil.  Once it reaches a boil reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes.  Serve over rice and with McIlhenny’s Tabasco Sauce, if desired.   

Revelers, Stephanie & Caren, at the Mystic Stripers Society BallPin
Revelers, Stephanie & Caren, at the Mystic Stripers Society Ball

 

What Summer Tastes Like to this Southern Girl!

It is officially here…summer! Olaf from Frozen is probably twirling in a field of dandelions singing of the virtues of great combinations. In his case, hot and cold. For southerners, it is food pairings usually only found in the summer. One of my favorites is fried green tomatoes.  Even my vegetable avoiding husband feels the rumbling in his Georgia born belly when I serve up a plate of Beer Battered Fried Green Tomatoes!

I buy tons of red tomatoes all year long but there is something wonderful about the firmness and tartness of local tomato encased in the crispy blanket of fried batter.   As a native Alabamian (although I did have a brief 8 year stint in North Carolina), I grew up less than 10 miles from Irondale, the home of the Whistle Stop Café from Fannie Flagg’s book, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café.  Fannie Flagg also has a cookbook available with the official Whistle Stop Café recipe which I recommend as well.  Perhaps it was my geography that gave me a special place in my heart (and tummy) for fried green tomatoes.

Batter recipes can be as varied as BBQ sauce recipes in the south and sometimes can similarly be based on geography.  North Carolina is known for it’s vinegar and pepper sauces while Alabama tends to favor ketchup based sauces.  Tennessee likes mustard based and ketchup based depending on what side of the state you find yourself.  I have found the same applies to fry batters.  While I was a student at Auburn University (War Eagle!), a wonderful little eatery called Veggies-To-Go offered fried green tomatoes (seasonally) in a cornmeal batter.  My mom, from Birmingham, used the most simple and delicious recipe I have come across of flour, salt, pepper and beer.  Her fried green tomatoes always came out crisp and light.  In Texas, they sometimes add sugar to the batter and in Louisiana the tomato dish isn’t complete without remoulade sauce.

I found this recipe on food.com and doctored it a bit to come up with my own Frankenstein’s Monster of a delicious batter.   I added two different kinds of bread crumbs, some spices and omitted the lemon.  To me, the green tomatoes have enough tartness not to need any added to the batter.

Here is my recipe!  I hope you enjoy it as much as my family did!

Caren’s Beer Battered Fried Green Tomatoes

3 Large Green Tomatoes, thinly sliced; less than 1/4 inch is ideal

1 Cup All Purpose Flour  ( I used King Arthur.)

1/2 cup of seasoned bread crumbs

1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs

1 tsp of salt (plus extra for season the tomatoes before dipping)

1 tsp of pepper (plus extra for season the tomatoes before dipping)

1 tsp of baking powder

1/2 tsp of baking soda

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp of chipotle chili powder

Almost one entire 12 oz bottle of beer ( I used Shock Top Honey Bourbon Cask Wheat)

vegetable oil (enough to coat your cast iron skillet; it will need to be added to at the start of each new batch)

Slice the tomatoes and lay them out on a piece of wax paper.  Salt and pepper each slice on both sides.  Add all the dry ingredients in to a medium sized mixing bowl and reserve 1/2 cup of the flour and bread crumb mixture.  Lightly coat each slice of tomato with some of the reserved dry flour mixture.  Add beer to the bowl of flour/bread crumbs until it is the consistency of pancake batter.  Dip each floured tomato slice into the wet batter mixture until it is nicely and uniformly covered.  Fry in a skillet set on medium high heat until each side is golden brown.  Let drain on a paper towel covered plate or cookie sheet.   Enjoy!

Leftovers can be refrigerated in an air tight container between sheets of parchment paper. Reheat in the oven at 350 degrees on a cookie sheet so they crisp back up.  Just as good the second day!

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This recipe certainly worked for me!

 

Sixlets – Made in a facility that does not process nuts.

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When you or someone you love has a peanut or tree nut allergy you may struggle to find chocolate treats.  As I was shopping for Valentine’s Day treats for my mom’s treat box to mail to her, I came across Sixlets.  We had a phone conversation about them just the day before because I bought pink ones for baby girl’s upcoming  birthday party.  My mom said she had never seen any so when I found them in the dollar bin at my local Target, I had to add them to her Vanlentine box.  I also bought a bag for Baby Girl because it is safe for her and chocolate flavored.  (Hey, beggars can’t be choosers, right?)

What I found amusing is the wording of the allergy label, “Made in a facility that does not process nuts.”  It was the first time I had seen a label with that particular wording and I read it several times because it threw me off.  Usually, I see “Made in a Peanut Free Facility” or “May Contain Peanuts or Tree Nuts.”  It seemed peculiar to me but it just points out that there is really no standard format for allergen labeling by the FDA when it concerns cross-contamination.  Many manufacturers include a warning that the facility does process allergens but it is not required to do so.  The FDA requires  labeling only if the product contains an allergen as an ingredient.  So for now, I am thankful for all those companies that include allergy advisory labels.

And Sixlets are pretty tasty too!

The New Starbucks Caramel Flan Latte… I like it a Latte!

Caramel Flan Latte from StarbucksPin
Caramel Flan Latte from Starbucks

First off, apologies for the horrible pun!  It is late and I have been enduring 2nd grade knock knock jokes for a week so my threshold for good humor is dangerously low.

What is Caramel Flan you may ask; it is a creamy custard with a caramel sauce.  If you haven’t had the actual dessert stop what you are doing and head to your nearest Mexican restaurant and order the #10 and for dessert, the flan.  If you are counting calories, skip the margaritas and order dessert, it is that good!  (Unless you are my husband and think that dessert must have some chocolate component.)  Sadly for chocoholics, there is no chocolate in traditional flan.  It is a concoction of condensed milk, evaporated milk, sugar, eggs and vanilla.

I can see how Starbucks was able to translate most of the ingredients into a latte.  I had one the other day from my local Target Starbucks barista.  It was sweet and creamy and had a rich caramel sauce not unlike a Caramel Macchiato.  The Caramel Flan Latte is much sweeter and the barista said that the caramel sauces are different.  It was tasty, rich and nice for something different but it will not replace my two favs … the Caramel Macchiato and the Peppermint Mocha.

So, if you like sweet and creamy lattes this might be a worth a try.  If you have tried it I would love to hear your thoughts!

 

Pillsbury Gluten Free Pizza Dough Kid Friendly

Yesterday I posted my experience with Pillsbury Gluten Free Cookie Dough.  Today, I will talk about my experience with the Pillsbury Gluten Free Pizza Dough.  When we were nons (a non allergy family) I would make a kick-butt BBQ chicken pizza using Publix pizza dough.  If you haven’t tried it and like to make homemade pizza, I implore you to try Publix’s pizza dough which can be found in the refrigerator case in the bakery. It is more than just a conduit for cheesey, sausey goodness.  The Publix dough is tasty, soft and bubbles up nicely.  Dare I say that it is better than many frozen pizza crusts out there that can taste a bit like cardboard.  In short it is yum, but like 99% of things sold in any grocery store bakery my daughter, who has a peanut and tree nut allergy, cannot eat it.  Those pesky warning lables always remind us that anything in the bakery may have come in contact with peanut and/or tree nuts and we always err on the side of caution.  After buying Pillsbury’s gluten free cookie dough and being happy with it, I was happy to see Pillsbury has gluten free pizza dough.  I made a cajun shrimp pizza with a creamy white sauce and the topping was delicious!  The kids liked the crust especially my non-allergic son but my husband and I were not crazy about the crust.  It was hard on the outer edges and gummy toward the center.  The dough had a sweetness to it that I attribute to the tapioca starch, brown sugar, and rice flour which was somewhat pleasent but the texture was too much for me and I just ate the toppings off the crust.

In all fairness, it may be user error on my part.  I used a pizza stone and the directions did not address the use of one.  Also, the dough is very sticky out of the tub, reminiscent of cookie dough.  The directions instruct you to oil your hands, the surface you roll the dough on and the dough itself.  Perhaps I overdid it on the oil.  The dough warms up quickly and gets even sticker then.  It was unworkable at one point and like normal pie crust, I balled it up and put it back in the fridge to chill.  Perhaps that rendered the death knell.

I might try it again, if I had a coupon.  These gluten free products are not cheap…they run in the $4.00 – $5.00 price range depending on your region and store for a 15oz tub.  I would not use the pizza stone this time and I wouldn’t re-chill the dough which means I would need to work quickly.  Like I said, the kids enjoyed it and that would make it worth it.  Perhaps mini pizzas for the kids would be a fun way to go.

It is worth a try and perhaps you’ll have better luck with it.  If you try it, let me know how you like it!

Pillsbury Gluten Free Guilt Free too?!

It seems that now in virtually every Wal-Mart, Publix and Kroger one can find gluten free items in the most mundane of grocery stores. Our favorite and most trusted companies have begun manufacturing gluten free products for our ease and enjoyment, like Pillsbury’s new gluten free chocolate chip cookie dough and pizza dough. This became pretty important to me when my then 17 month old daughter was diagnosed as having a peanut and tree nut allergy. It has been a whirlwind learning experience (that is never over) and requires constant vigilance to read labels and ask questions. I am sure that at times I do look like Mad Eye Moody to our family members, waitresses, and whomever else tries to feed my daughter. What I have learned in the last year and a half is that many times, gluten free can be safe for peanut and tree nut allergy sufferers. This is not always the case so I highly recommend that with all products you must still read the label! With Lydia’s allergies I thought it would be nearly impossible for her to ever eat a chocolate chip cookie. If you or a loved one has a peanut and tree nut allergy then you know that chocolate in most of its normal encantations is made in a factory that also processes peanut or tree nuts. That means no chocolate chips. It was heartbreaking for me. My first word was “cookie” then “dada”. Priorities, I know! When I found the tub of gluten free chocolate chip cookie dough in the refrigerator section at the grocery store my heart skipped a beat and I really think I held my breath as I read through the ingredients and allergy warnings. As luck would have it, there were no warnings and that little tub found it’s way into my buggy and into my refrigerator. I have bought these cookies twice now and am pretty pleased. Are they a Nestle Toll House? Not exactly, but they are yummy and my nephews at Christmas ate up almost a whole batch and never seemed to notice. At Christmas, so much of what is a holiday tradition is not safe for my allergic girl and it was nice to have out a holiday treat that was safe for her and that the nons (what I call us with no allergies) enjoy as well. They can seem a bit grainy but overall the dough makes good cookies. They fooled my very picky nephews and were all gobbled up at Christmas. Depending on the size of your cookies, it makes just over a dozen. I usually use a cookie dough scoop or a tablespoon for drop cookies. My mom baked them this last time and was able to shape the dough into a log and slice the cookies, which gave us a bigger yield. I recommend that you try the gluten free cookie dough from Pillsbury and would love to hear how you liked it.