Lemon Curd Tart – This was delicious and very impressive!!!

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I love to cook and I’m pretty proficient in the kitchen, but I was intimidated by this recipe. I don’t know why. Maybe because I’m not big on making my own crusts. This recipe really wasn’t hard at all and the crust came together beautifully! It was a great add to our Thanksgiving table, but would be good any time you have lemons on hand. Our Meyer lemons were ripening, so this was the perfect use of them!

I can’t take credit for this recipe. This came from Ina Garten AKA The Barefoot Contessa. I knew it must be good. Ina would never steer us wrong!!!

Lemon Curd Tart

For the Tart Shell:

12 tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), plus more for greasing, all brought up to room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Pinch salt

For the Lemon Curd:

4 lemons at room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 extra large eggs, at room temperature

1/8 tsp salt

1. Mix the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Press the dough into a 10-inch-round or 9-inch-square false-bottom tart pan, making sure that the finished edge is flat. Chill until firm.

2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

3. Butter 1 side of a square of aluminum foil to fit inside the chilled tart and place it, buttered side down, on the pastry. Fill with beans or rice. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and beans, prick the tart all over with the tines of a fork, and bake again for 20 to 25 minutes more, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool to room temperature.

For the lemon curd:

1. Remove the zest of the lemons with a vegetable peeler or zester, being careful to avoid the white pith. Squeeze the lemons to make 1/2 cup of juice and set the juice aside. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the sugar and process for 2 to 3 minutes, until the zest is very finely minced. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar and lemon zest. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.

2. Pour the mixture into a 2-quart saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 10-15 minutes. The lemon curd will thicken at about 175 degrees F, or just below a simmer. Remove from the heat.

3. Fill the tart shell with warm lemon curd and allow to set at room temperature.

Enjoy!!!

The BEST Pumpkin Bread!!!

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Want a seasonal treat to share with friends, family and neighbors? Or just something to make your home smell fabulous and enjoy with your morning coffee? This pumpkin bread will fill the bill. It is so moist and delicious!!! I’ve been making it like crazy for the last month or so and everyone that has had it, just loves it! It’s pretty easy to make too!

I can’t take credit for this recipe. It comes from the Food Network Kitchen. I do like that the one recipe makes 2 large or 3 medium size loaves, so there is some for you and some to share! You could even add some raisins or nuts to this, if you like!

I hope you enjoy it as much as our family does!

The BEST Pumpkin Bread

3 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable or canola oil

4 eggs

15 oz can of puréed pumpkin

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp all spice

1/2 tsp ground cloves

2/3 cup water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Butter and flour two large loaf or 3 medium loaf pans.

Blend together sugar and oil until well mixed. Next add the eggs and pumpkin and mix until combined. In a separate bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients and whisk until well combined. While the mixer is running spoon the dry mixture into the wet. About half way through add half of the water, then continue adding the dry ingredients and at the end add the remaining water.

Pour and equal amount of batter into each loaf pan. Bake for 60-70 minutes. To check for doneness, insert a toothpick in the center and it should come out clean.

Allow to cook in pans for 10 minutes and then turn out of pans and continue to cool loaves on a rack. It will slice cleaner when it has been allowed to cool for a while.

Enjoy!!! Happy Thanksgiving!!!

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans.

2 Whisk together the sugar and oil in a large bowl until well combined. Whisk in the eggs and pumpkin until combined.

3 Combine the flour, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and cloves in a medium bowl and whisk until well combined. Add half the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and stir to combine. Add half the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and stir to combine. Add half the water and stir to combine. Repeat with the remaining flour and water.

4 Divide the batter between the prepared loaf pans. Bake until cake tester comes out clean and the loaves are golden brown, about 1 hour. Let the loaves cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pans and let cool completely, about 1 hour.

Southwest Cornbread and Chorizo Dressing – A Thanksgiving Staple!

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I love chorizo!!! So why not put it in your Thanksgiving dressing (or stuffing!)?!? The combination of fresh baked cornbread, chorizo and fresh veggies makes this stuffing a homerun. It is my absolute favorite dish on the Thanksgiving table.

You can find the recipe here.

Barbecued Turkey – Delicious and it Frees Up Your Oven!

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We started barbecuing our turkey years ago! It’s so delicious and it frees up your oven for all the other stuff you need to cook. Best of all, it gives my husband something to do! LOL!

Click here for my recipe.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Spicy Pumpkin Hummus – The Perfect Thanksgiving Dip!

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I had an extra can of pumpkin puree hanging out and we were having a family birthday luncheon, so I thought we needed a pumpkin flavored dip. I’ve made hummus plenty of time. It’s so easy!!! Why not add that pumpkin flavor for a perfect fall dip! Our whole family loved this dip and it was so easy to make and healthy to boot!

If you’ve never made hummus, it’s one of those things where you just dump all the ingredients in your food processor and blend it up. That’s it!

This recipe has some spice to it with the cayenne pepper. I didn’t find it super spicy, but you can add that pepper a little at a time and taste along the way if you want to control the spice level.

I hope you like it! It’s a great add to your Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving appetizer table! And if you end up with a bunch of leftovers, you could use it to make this awesome Hummus Crusted Chicken!

I hope you and your loved ones have a blessed Thanksgiving! I’m always grateful for all of you that take the time to read my blog!

Spicy Pumpkin Hummus

1 – 15 oz can of pumpkin puree

1 – 15 oz can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained & rinsed

Juice of one lemon

3 tbsp tahini

2 tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove

1 tsp Cayenne pepper (or less if you don’t want it as spicy)

1 tsp cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Put pumpkin and garbanzo beans in food processor and blend until fairly smooth. Add all other ingredients and blend until smooth and completely blended. Scrape sides of bowl and continue to blend as needed.

This can even be made the day before as it’s one of those things that gets better as it sits.

Makes about 3 cups of hummus.

Enjoy!

Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash and Air Fried Bacon Brussel Sprouts – Just Yum!!!

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So I had never tried acorn squash and I have never met a brussel sprout I’ve liked, but this has all changed now! This squash dish will likely be taking the place of my Southwest Chorizo Dressing on our Thanksgiving table. That says a lot, if I’m willing to go without chorizo!!! LOL! And the fact that I ate more than one brussel sprout said a lot for that dish! They were really good!!!

These two dishes went really well together. The acorn squash is pretty sweet and the sprouts are bitter, so they compliment one another. Not to mention when you cook the bacon, you can use it for both dishes. Or you could leave out the bacon and have a great vegetarian dish!

Now I faked the brussel sprout recipe, but I cannot take credit for the squash recipe. I got this from the Food Network app after seeing Katie Lee make it on The Kitchen. She described the acorn squash flavor as a mix of butternut squash and sweet potato. I would say that is right on!

Basically, I will say this acorn squash recipe is one of the most delicious dishes I’ve made in a very long time and my hubby was in agreement on that. So give it a try!

Step one: Both recipes are going to use bacon, so dice up an entire 1 pound package of bacon. Cook bacon in a skillet on the stove top over medium heat until crispy. When done, use a slotted spoon to transfer bacon to a plate covered with a paper towel. Retain the bacon grease for the brussel sprouts.

Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

2 acorn squash

3 tbsp olive or avocado oil

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

1 tbsp unsalted butter

1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

1 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

1/4 tsp garlic salt

3 1/2 oz shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced (I actually used my favorite type of mushroom, maitake)

1/2 cup thinly sliced leeks, white and light green part only

1 1/2 cups cooked forbidden or wild rice (I cooked with homemade chicken stock for more flavor)

1/4 cup dried currents (I couldn’t find these at the store, so I used dried cranberries)

2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp sherry vinegar

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and discard. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place cut-side down on the lined baking sheet and bake until tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Leave the oven on at 400 degrees F.

3. Heat the butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Add the breadcrumbs, increase the heat to medium high and cook, stirring constantly, until the breadcrumbs begin to turn golden brown. Stir in the parsley and garlic salt. Transfer to a dish.

4. Wipe the skillet clean. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the mushrooms and leeks until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the kale and garlic and cook until the kale wilts, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice, currants, soy sauce, honey, 1/3 of the cooked bacon and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Scoop some of the mixture into the cavity of each acorn squash half and top with the reserved breadcrumbs. Bake until heated through, 25 to 30 minutes.

Air Fried Bacon Brussel Sprouts

1 pound brussel sprouts, trimmed and cut in half

1/2 thickly sliced leeks, white and light green part only

1/2 cup mushrooms, thickly sliced (again I used the maitake’s here)

Bacon and grease

Salt and pepper

Toss the brussel sprouts, leeks and mushrooms in the reserved bacon grease. Add the remaining bacon and season with salt and pepper. Put all ingredients in the basket of your air fryer and cook on high for 15-18 minutes until as crispy and/or charred as you like. Stir once or twice during cooking time.

Hope you love it as much as we did!!!

Turkey Chili with Pepper Jack Cornbread Dumplings – Break Out that Ninja Foodi!

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So my electric pressure cooker recently died. I’ve kind of been waiting for that day, so I could get one of the new gadgets that came out after I got that appliance. I took the leap and bought a Ninja Foodi. It was a great investment! This thing can just about do anything! Tonight was my first time really experimenting and making up my own recipe. I was incredibly happy with how it turned out!

This chili was delicious and I even managed to sneak in some vegetables! I had some zucchini that needed to be used, so I diced it up and threw it in. It was a great add!!!

I also loved the cornbread “dumplings”! I usually bake cornbread to accompany our chili and most of the time my husband crumbles his up and puts it right in the chili, so I thought I would try and simplify things and cook the cornbread right in the pot with the chili. It was perfect!!!

I hope you enjoy it! It’s a perfect meal as the evenings get chillier!

Turkey Chili with Pepper Jack Cornbread Dumplings (6-8 servings)

1 pound ground turkey

2 – 14 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 – 28 oz can crushed tomatoes in puree

1 – 4 oz can diced chiles

1/3 cup beer

1/2 large yellow onion, diced

1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 zucchini, diced

3 garlic cloves, chopped or pressed

1 heaping tablespoon chili power

1 tbsp cumin

3 tsp kosher salt

3 tsp ground pepper

3 tsp garlic powder

3 tsp onion powder

1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix

1 egg

1/3 cup milk

1/2 cup pepper jack (or cheddar) Shredded cheese

1 tsp Tajin seasoning

Sour Cream (optional)

Place turkey, beans, tomatoes, chiles and beer in the large pot. Break apart the raw meat. Put on the pressure lid making sure the pressure release valve is in the seal position. Select pressure and set to high. Set time to 15 minutes. Select start/stop to begin cooking.

When pressure cooking is complete, quick release the pressure by moving the pressure release valve to vent. Remove the lid.

Select Sear/Sauté and set to Medium. Select Start/Stop. Add onion, jalapeno, cilantro, zucchini, garlic and spices, stir. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, mix cornbread batter by combining muffin mix, egg, mild, cheese and Tajin.

When chili is done simmering, spoon cornbread batter over the top of the chili. Close the crisping lid. Select Bake/Roast, set temperature to 350 degrees and set the time to 15 minutes. After 10 minutes, open lid and insert a toothpick in the cornbread. If it comes out clean the corn bread is clean. If it’s not done cook for a few more minutes until done.

When cornbread is done sprinkle a bit more cheese over the top of the dish and allow to cook a couple more minutes until chili is done.

The chili is great topped with sour cream. Enjoy!!!

Killer Kale Pasta – It’s Both Killer and Healthy!!!

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In my weight loss journey, I’m always looking for healthy dishes that are delicious at the same time! My husband and I are now empty nesters and recently downsized to a smaller home. Luckily, it’s within walking distance of our local farmers market. We live in a farming community in Northern California and have access to amazing produce!!! On one of our recent trips, I picked up some beautiful kale and bell peppers. I did a search on the Food Network app and found this wonderful recipe that was authored by Guy Fieri.

This is an incredibly tasty pasta dish! The kale adds a great texture, but not a strong flavor, so this might be a great way to get your picky eaters to eat some healthy greens! It makes a big pot of pasta that will feed plenty of people or provide leftovers that can be frozen for later!

If you haven’t checked out the Food Network app, I can’t recommend it enough! If you watch the network, you can immediately go to the app and save recipes you’re watching being made. You can categorize your saved recipes making them easily accessible. Check it out!!!

Killer Kale Pasta (6-8 servings)

Ingredients:

2 red bell peppers

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

2 medium shallots, diced (I used finely diced red onion)

2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

Kosher salt and ground pepper

1-2 tsp red pepper flakes, plus more for topping

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 – 28 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes (I only had plain and used those, still tasted great!)

1 – 14 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes

2 large bunches Kale (2 1/4 – 3 pounds)

4 cups coarsely shredded rotisserie chicken (skin removed)

1 cup chicken stock

1 pound rigatoni (I kept it healthy with whole wheat pasta)

1 cup grated cheese (2 oz)

Place the bell peppers over the flame of a gas burner to char, turning 3 to 4 minutes per side (or char the peppers under the broiler, turning, 5 minutes). Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow the peppers to steam about 10 minutes. Once cool to the touch, remove the peppers from the bowl and pull of the charred skin and stems and remove the seeds. Slice and set aside until ready to use.

Set a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the olive oil, then the shallots and garlic; season with salt and pepper and cook until the garlic is fragrant and the shallots are translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and wine and cook until most of the wine has evaporated, 3-5 minutes. Add both cans of tomatoes and the roasted red peppers. Mix well and bring to a steady boil, then reduce the heat so the sauce simmers.

Meanwhile, prepare the kale by removing and discarding the stems: tear the leaves into bite size pieces. Fold the kale into the tomato sauce along with the chicken and toss to combine. Cover and cook until the kale has wilted, about 5 minutes. If the sauce seems dry add the chicken stock 1/2 cup at a time. Continue cooking, covered, until the kale is tender, all the flavors have come together and the sauce is think, 15 to 20 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions, 8-10 minutes. Reserve about 1 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta and add it directly to the Dutch oven with the finished sauce. Drizzle in some olive oil. Cook over low heat, tossing to coat everything, 2-3 minutes. Add a little of the reserved pasta water if needed. Serve pasta topped with parmesan cheese.

Hope you enjoy the killer pasta!!!

Strategy Change: I’m taking a different approach to weight loss!

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I originally started this blog with a focus on healthy cooking and I do plan to continue that, but my approach to this has changed a bit over the last few months. I have a very common story of a struggle with weight through most of my adult life. I could list the diets, but why bother! Back in March 2019, I stumbled upon the “Losing 100 Pounds with Phit-n-Phat” podcast. When I listened to podcast #1, something clicked. I need to do something that is realistic and can do the rest of my life, because if I can’t work on the reason I overeat I will never keep off any weight I lose. So now I am on a journey to eat healthy and realistically. Since March I have lost 45 pounds and am still going strong!

So what is changing in my approach to my recipes? I fell victim to the food industry and bought the story that all their fabulous reduced fat, fat free foods were going to solve my weight problem, because of this you will see a lot of mentions of these ingredients in my previous recipes. I was a big user of reduced fat cheese, fat free sour cream and other such products. No more! As I sought information and started comparing labels, it was really eye opening. For example, my non-fat sour cream had about 30 ingredients and the full-fat version? 2!!!!! Two ingredients! This is just one example. You can probably guess that all those other ingredients are chemicals, clever names for sugar, salt and a variety of ingredients of questionable health value.

So now I’m keeping it simple! You will see use of full fat ingredients, but I’m trying to use more healthy fats and include lots of fresh ingredients and whole grains.

There are some amazing documentaries out there that can educate you on this kind of stuff. Maybe I’ll do a future entry on that. If you’re curious about Phit-n-phat you can look them up on the web. It is geared toward women. Sorry guys! Also, feel free to ping me if you have questions.

So I will be trying to post more yummy recipes on here and love to get your feedback!

So as I like to say, “Go play with your food!”

Healthy Nachos – Satisfy that craving without all the guilt!

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Hey y’all!!! It’s been a minute since I wrote a blog entry! Some folks have been pestering me to get back to it, so here I go…

I have been working really hard the last few months and have lost 45 pounds. Maybe in a separate entry I’ll talk more about how I’m approaching this, because it’s pretty cool. Let’s just say I’m NOT on a diet and can eat whatever I want. Anyway, I am trying to make healthier choices and last nights choice was a healthy version of nachos!!! This California girl needs lots of Mexican food in her life!!!

I never do well losing weight when I deprive myself of foods I love, so I just get creative about how I can enjoy the flavors I love and make a dish somewhat healthier. With this dish I replaced the chips with halved mini bell peppers and used ground turkey for the meat. So this dish is great for a low carb diet, if that’s what you’re into.

Anyway, these were delicious!!! They satisfied that nacho craving and my family loved it!!! I’ll tell you how I topped them, but you can really top them with whatever nacho toppings you crave. Enjoy!!!

Healthy Nachos

1 pound lean ground turkey or chicken

1 packet taco seasoning mix

1/4 cup water

1 – 16 oz can of whole black beans (rinsed – this reduces the amount of sodium)

10-12 mini bell peppers, stemmed and halved

2 cups grated cheese (I used our favorite, pepper jack. It melts so nice!)

1 small can of sliced black olives

1 fresh jalapeño, stemmed and sliced

1/3 cup sliced green onions

Sour cream

Guacamole

Salsa

Preheat you oven to 400 degrees. Over med heat, brown your turkey or chicken and then add taco seasoning mix and 1/4 cup water. Stir. Next add the rinsed black beans. Turn the heat down to low and allow to simmer. Next lay your halved mini bell peppers out on a greased baking sheet. Put them close together, so they will catch all the toppings. Spoon the meat/bean mixture over the peppers. Top with cheese, jalapeños and olives. Bake in the 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. Top with remaining toppings and serve!

Hope you enjoy them!