SQUASH IT!

 LASDI©

LASDI©

Cooking is my love language to others. Food itself is one of my own love languages. I think this is so for most of us. This is the reason I wrote the book A Life of Flavor. It is a book about finding the joy in the dark times life brings us, with matching recipes for comfort. Everything we DO revolves around food, and for my family, we are usually talking about the next meal to come during the one we are sitting together for!

One of the things I really like to do for The Hubster is cook a Saturday morning breakfast. There are very rare times we have a free Saturday morning, so when we do, I like to express my love for him by making something awesome to commemorate the opportunity!

Also, because I want to keep him around for as long as possible, I try to make it as healthy as possible. I’m not ALWAYS able to do so - #RealLife - but do the very best I can. I am the low-carb girl of the family, so I also do my best to keep it that way for him, too. All of those things do not make for an easy-but-awesome breakfast.

Challenge. ACCEPTED.

Here we have a bacon (uncured with no nitrates or preservatives, of course!), egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich. The clencher? The “bread” is butternut squash panny-cakes!! And boy-oh-BOY were they delicious and perfectly bread-like!

I know it is really easy to take a couple of slices of bread out of the package or whatever bread of your choice for a morning sandwich; hear my cry!! This is SO EASY, and SO WORTH YOUR HEALTH.

PS It is PERFECT for September as we transition out of Summer and into the Autumn season!

So try it! Let me know how you like it!

BUTTERNUT SQUASH PANNY-CAKES

2 cups butternut squash

extra virgin olive oil

1 cup almond flour

4 eggs

sea salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

1/2 tsp baking soda

coconut oil

For my butternut squash, I bought pre-peeled and cubed at the grocery store. It’s just easier and faster. I tossed them with a little bit of evoo and placed them on a baking sheet. I broiled them for about ten minutes until they were cooked through, and then put them into a standing mixer bowl. If you don’t have a standing mixer, a hand mixer will do just fine! Place all other ingredients up to coconut oil into mixing bowl and mix unil blended into a loose batter consistency.

Heat heavy pan (I use my cast-iron griddle, flat side!) without oil for about two minutes. Add about a tablespoon of coconut oil before each panny-cake prior to cooking, and adjust heat with each one accordingly. Ladle or pour desired amount onto pan and cook over medium heat until browned. Just like a regular panny-cake, when you see the bubbles on the upside, flip it carefully and cook the other side until brown.

NOTES: This was to be bread for the breakfast sandwich; however, if you would like a sweeter panny-cake, add 1 teaspoon of sugar to the batter and add your favorite syrup after cooking and prior to eating! I just squashed the bacon, egg, and cheese right between two huge pieces and watched it disappear with a smile on The Hubster’s face!

THE IMPASTA

 Photos by: Adrian Garcia (LASDI©)

Photos by: Adrian Garcia (LASDI©)

I was cooking for seven families.  Not seven people.  Seven families.  Well, Framilies.  You know what framily is, right?  When you have really good friends you consider to be more like family.  So let me correct myself - I was cooking a meal for seven Framilies!  

We were celebrating being together because our Framily from Hungary (they're missionaries there) were home in The States for a visit and we just wanted to be together and laugh and play games like we do every time they come.

So what does one cook that is inexpensive but delicious, and will stretch among all those people?  PASTA!  Oh, Y'all.  There were so many different kinds of pasta!  For the white "sawse" lovers, I made chicken alredo with the most beautiful rainbow pasta I've ever seen (I bought it at Trader Joe's).  For the meat-lovers, I made lasagna with pasta sheets from scratch and TONS of Italian sausage, ground turkey, and ground sirloin.  But then there's me.  The low-carb girl.  Who happens to LOVE pasta.  But I'm not the girl who can eat even a small plate of it and not gain ten pounds, which is why I'm low-carb in the first place!  So guess what?  I made IMPASTA.  Yep!  I made the most incredible fettucine out of almond flour!  And the best part is: It is only THREE INGREDIENTS!!

With this recipe (made very simlarly to Fathead Dough), I made a primavera with so many gorgeous veggies that it looked almost too pretty to eat!  I also made a simple garlic-butter-Parmesan fettuccine which may have actually been the star of the show! So I have provided the Impasta recipe below for those of you interested in low-carb deliciousness that will knock your noodle-lovin' socks off!

PS - I also made a salad.  You know, for balance.

IMPASTA

2 tsp almond flour

1 cup shredded mozzarella

1 egg yolk

(No, seriously.  That's it.)

Melt almond flour and cheese in the microwave for one minute (or a minute-and-a-half if cheese is not fully melted).  Wait about 30 seconds for the cheese to cool just a little bit and then add an egg yolk.  With a spoonula, press and fold the yolk into the melted cheese until it's completely mixed into the cheese, and gives a yellow appearance.  Reheat the cheese for 10-15 seconds.  Spray two pieces of parchment paper with cooking spray for rolling the dough out.  Roll out to about 1/4 inch thick, using one piece of parchment on the bottom, and the other piece of parchment paper on top to keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin or your work space. Don't roll it out too thin.  

Slice fettuccine strips and let dry in the fridge for about four hours.  Bring a pot of water to a boil, cook for one minute, and then strain with a colandar, making sure you immediately pour cold water over the pasta, so the noodles don't stick to each other too much.

Reheat with any "sawse" you prefer together in a pan, or reheat in your microwave with a little butter for about 20 seconds.

NOTES:  What do you call a fake noodle?  (Oh, come on.  You get it!)

A WEDGE BETWEEN US

 LASDI©

LASDI©

When I put Life As She Does It into play, I thought it would be difficult to make the four things I do well seem cohesive.  But when I have days like the one I'm telling you about, it all seems to come together seamlessly!

I have the honor and privilege of being the "Caterer to the Stars" for our local minor-league baseball team, The Sugar Land SKEETERS, this season.  I absolutely love it and hope they choose me again next season!  But this particular day was pretty epic for all things LIfe As She Does It, which is a creative services business made up of speaking, singing, writing and cooking.

I catered for them from a "She Menu" they chose called Red White & ‘Cue.  It was an amazing smoked brisket The Hubster made, roasted corn on the cob, pepper poppers,  house potato bread, an iceberg wedge, and a from-scratch no-bake cherry cheesecake.  BUT!  I also got to have a book signing at Constellation Field, talk in the Radio Box, and sing God Bless America before the Seventh Inning!!  It was an amazing day, filled with blessings and fun, and family and friends.  

I can't give you The Hubster's recipe to his outstanding brisket (I'm sworn to secrecy!), and I've given you the pepper popper recipe before, so today, I decided to go with the recipe for the dressing for the iceberg wedge, as well as how it was assembled.  It was just so pretty!  You can see in the pic for yourself!  The dressing recipe is very versatile as well, because if you are not a blue cheese lover, you can omit it and have a really lovely and creamy ranch!

Interested in seeing the video from Seventh Inning?  Click HERE.  In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your summer and beat the heat by grilling-out and chilling out with this fantastic and easy salad recipe!

ICEBERG WEDGE WITH BLUE CHEESE DRESSING

1 head iceberg lettuce, cleaned and quartered

2 cups home-made blue cheese dressing (recipe below)

1 can diced beets, drained

4 green onion, sliced

1/2 pound bacon, cooked, drained, and crumbled

1 container grape or cherry tomatoes, halved (the multi-colored ones look AMAZING if you can find them!)

1 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds

extra blue cheese crumbles for garnish (optional)

Assemble all ingredients in the order listed above either on a platter or each one on it's own plate and separate ingredients equally among quarters.

BLUE CHEESE DRESSING

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup sour cream

1/4 cup white vinegar

1 tsp sea salt

1 tbs pepper

1 tbs garlic powder

1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp fresh dill or pickle juice

1 tbs worceshershire

1/4 cup milk

1 5 oz container blue cheese crumbles

Put all ingredients into a large bowl and whisk or place in large jar and shake until bended together!  That's it!

Enjoy this amazing salad with a meal or even on it's own!!

BAKING SODA

 LASDI©

LASDI©

Oh my GOODNESS!  And I do mean GOODNESS.  I made my annual Irish meal for the St. Patrick's holiday.  This year it fell on a Saturday so I decided to make it a Sunday Supper the following day, since that is our reward day and carbs are allowed!  So I went SOOOOO cabacious!!  The meal started with appetizers.  Sweet LAWD!  Home made pretzels, beer cheese dip, cream cheese dip, and creamy mustard dip.  OUTRAGEOUS!  Next we had a shamrock salad - with REAL SHAMROCKS!  It also had almonds, crunchy celery, Swiss cheese, and was tossed in a home made white wine vinegar-vinaigrette.  Main was pulled home made corned beef, cabbage and red potatoes, side of from-skrizzatch Irish soda bread (soft, wonderful, and AMAZING slathered with Irish butter!), and for dessert - grasshopper pie, minus the grasshoppers!  

Though I outdid myself - if I do say so myself, and I DO - my kitchen looked like a tornado had blown through it the next morning.  But ask me if it was worth the clean up.  GO on, ASK ME!  Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaasss!

Below, I have the recipe for the Irish soda bread.  So easy you will want to make it way more often than just for March!  Slainte! ('to your good health")

IRISH SODA BREAD

4 cups flour

4 tbs  sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 tbs baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter, super-softened

1 cup buttermilk (I make my own!  See notes below!)

1 egg

FOR BASTING:

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and butter. Stir in the one cup of buttermilk and egg. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round of sorts and place on prepared baking sheet (see notes). In a small bowl, combine melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk; brush the top of your round loaf with a little of the buttermilk / butter mixture. Use a very sharp knife to cut an "x"; into the top of the loaf round.  Bake about 45 minutes, or until golden brown, brushing the loaf with the buttermilk / butter mixture every fifteen minutes or so until it's gone.

NOTES:  To make my own buttermilk, I pour two tablespoons of white vinegar into a measuring cup and pour milk over it until it reaches remaining one cup.  Need more?  for each cup of milk you add two more tablespoons of vinegar.  Let sit at least 20 minutes.  It's so easy and you don't have to buy buttermilk and then wonder what to do with what's left over!

SUFFERING SUCCOTASH!

 LASDI©

LASDI©

When most people hear, "We're having succotash with dinner", they don't get too excited, and feel they have to suffer through that part of the meal.  I DO get excited.  Now that it's March, and my color-themed OCD has been set to 'green', I couldn't WAIT to make this green-themed side.  It went with our oh-so-succulent sage and brown butter cod.  So we had succulent and succotash.  And it.  was.  WONDERFUL.  It was RICH.  It was ER'THANG. 

SUFFERING SUCCOTASH

extra virgin olive oil (evoo)

1 medium onion, diced

1 clove elephant garlic (or two cloves regular), minced

1 bag frozen lima beans, thawed

2 medium zucchini, diced

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp white pepper

1 tsp cumin

2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 cup white wine

1 large handful frozen sweet peas, thawed

chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

In a heavy pot (I use my cast iron Dutch oven!), sprinkle enough evoo to cover the bottom and let it heat for about two minutes on medium high.  Carefully add the onion and garlic cloves and stir into the evoo.  Let cook without stirring anymore for about two minutes, or until just-brown around the edges of the onion.  Add the lima beans and stir to blend with onion and garlic clove mixture.  Let cook without stirring anymore for five minutes.  I know.  This sounds like it's hard to do, but trust me - it makes for SUCH good succotash because it caramelizes your beans a little.  Once you see the beans browning, add zucchini and stir with onion / garlic clove / bean mixture.  Add seasonings and wine and stir.  Let cook another two minutes.  Remove from heat, add sweet peas and stir.  Garnish with parsley.  And stop eating it all while you're cooking it so as to save some for the others!

 

YOU SAY POTATO

 LASDI©

LASDI©

It's been COLD in Texas!  Said practically no one ever.  Nonetheless, cold it has been.  And of course, there is nothing better than hot soup to warm your bones on cold nights.

It was Sunday and the week had been so busy that I had not planned out our Sunday Supper.  GASP!  I only gasp so dramatically because Sunday is carbs-allowed day and I had not planned accordingly!  

So of course, I rummaged through my pantry and fridge to see what I could drum up. 

This was fast, easy, delicious, and a carb-loaded reward.  And it was even better the next day for The Hubster's lunch!  

LOADED BAKED POTATO SOUP

4 large potatoes, scrubbed and chopped into 1-inch cubes

4 tbs extra virgin olive oil (evoo)

1 tsp sea salt

1 tbs black pepper

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 package bacon, chopped

1 tsp white wine

1-32 oz box chicken broth

1 1/2 cups sour cream

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

2 tsp white pepper

1 tbs butter

In a heavy pot (I use my cast iron Dutch oven!) on medium-high, heat evoo for about one minute and then add potatoes.  In a small frying pan (believe it or not, I use my tiny cast iron skillet!) heat onion, garlic, and bacon on medium-high heat for five minutes or until bacon is cooked through, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and add white wine.  Stir and scrape any "bits" from the bottom with a wooden spoon or spoonula and set aside. 

Meanwhile, stir potatoes and add sea salt and pepper.  Let them sit in the pot, untouched, for about five minutes or until crisp and brown on bottom.  Stir and add chicken broth, then bring to a boil.  Once boiling, add bacon mixture to the pot, lower the heat, cover and let simmer for thirty minutes.  Bring heat back up to medium and stir in sour cream, cheese, and white pepper.  Let cook another three minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat, add butter and let melt, then stir and serve.

NOTES: For garnish, you can sprinkle a little more shredded cheddar or some chopped chives on top.  This smelled so good that no garnish made it to the bowl before it was devoured!  For some crunch I added a few raw veggies and some rice crackers.  For a healthier take on this meal, I use organic ingredients and uncured bacon  But it is what it is.  And it is DELICIOUS!!

DROP IT LIKE ITS HOT

 LASDI©

LASDI©

It is SO HARD during the holidays to eat healthy, isn't it??  What is it about the season that makes us (me included!) think that it's a free-for-all?  Well this year I have been super-intentional about making sure The Hubster and I don't constantly indulge, but rather try to make healthy foods that taste rich and delicious; like we're not missing out.

So for Meatless Monday (which does NOT sound rich and delicious, does it?) I decided to make something souper-rich (see what I did just there?) with an Asian flare.  And this low-almost-no carb meatless dish did NOT disappoint!  Hot soup on a cold day!  PS  This is so easy it shouldn't taste like the indulgence we experienced!

CARAMELIZED ONION AND EGG DROP SOUP

1 onion, halved, both halves sliced thinly

3 tbs extra virgin olive oil (evoo)

1 tsp sea salt

pepper

32 oz box chicken broth

1/4 cup soy sauce

3 green onion, chopped coarsely

3 eggs

1 tbs water

2 tbs sesame oil

Sprinkle evoo into a soup pot and heat on medium-high for about one minute.  Add onions, stir, and let them cook, untouched, for about three minutes.  Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper to taste, stir, and let them cook, untouched, for another three minutes.  Stir, and let cook, untouched for another five minutes. or until caramelized and brown.  Pour chicken broth and soy sauce over onion and bring to a boil, add green onions then turn heat down to low.  Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes and turn heat back up to medium.  Whisk eggs and water in a separate bowl until well-blended and a little frothy.  Slowly pour into the soup mixture, whisking the soup as the eggs go in.  Cook an additional minute or two.  Turn off heat, add sesame oil and gently stir.  Serve with garlic sesame not-bread sticks. 

NOTES: I garnished with chopped parsley, but cilantro would also work here, or no garnish at all would still be yum!

GARLIC SESAME NOT-BREAD STICKS.

(a variation of Fat Head Dough)

3/4 cups almond flour

2 tbs cream cheese

1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella

1 tbs garlic powder

pinch of sea salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 egg

1/4 cup sesame oil

sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a bowl, add almond flour, cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, garlic powder, sea salt, and pepper.  Microwave for one minute.  Stir and microwave another 20 seconds.  Add egg and stir until egg is blended into dough.  place between two pieces of parchment paper (see notes) and shape into a rectangle about 1-inch thick.  Remove top piece of parchment paper and bake for about fifteen minutes or until just golden brown.  Spread sesame oil over top of baked dough, sprinkle with desired amount of sesame seeds and bake another five minutes.  Take pizza cutter and slice into bread sticks.  DIP INTO CARAMELIZED ONION AND EGG DROP SOUP!!

NOTES: Parchment paper is key here.  I've tried this with foil and it is sorely disappointing.  PARCHMENT PAPER.  Trust me.

This combo is PERFECT and comforting for this cold holiday weather as well!  Merry Christmas!

 

 

Do It For Peanuts!

 LASDI©

LASDI©

The Hubster and I had a most-wonderful opportunity to visit the home of some of our besties, The Bollingers (Holly Bolli, and J-Bolli – and the Bolli Kiddos) with Links International for a night of vision for their sweet missionary friends from Africa (to learn more, click HERE).  Holly decided to hire Life As She Does It to create some yummies for everyone's tummies; but the huge hit of the night was my African Chicken Peanut Stew.  Americans and Africans alike loved this dish!  I have been asked over and over for the recipe since then (thank you!) but had to work on sizing the recipe down a bit since the pot I made was full of enough for an ARMY.

I had THE BEST time and I learned SO MUCH from our (yep!  They are OUR friends now, too!) African missionary friends.  In the meantime, trust that even though we didn’t get the very best photo of the stew, it was SO DELICIOUS.  AND SO COMFORTING.  It is also rather healthy, whether you like it or not!  For vegetarians, leave out the chicken.  This is hearty with it or without and is PERFECT for the autumn or winter weather!  It’s perfect to freeze and reheat, too!  ENJOY!!

AFRICAN CHICKEN PEANUT STEW

¼ cup peanut oil
1 red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced finely
4 tbs minced ginger or 2 tbs ginger paste
1 pkg chicken thighs, chunked
1 pkg chicken breast, chunked
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tbs garlic powder
2 boxes chicken broth (or vegetable broth if going vegetarian)
2 small yams (or sweet potatoes), peeled and chunked
1 can rotel
1 ½ cups collard greens or kale, chopped coarsely
1 1/2 cups chunky peanut butter

Heat the peanut oil in a large soup pot (I use my cast iron Dutch oven!) over medium heat for about a minute or two; add onion, garlic, and ginger and cook until softened, about four or five minutes. Add the chicken, stir, and leave it alone without stirring for about two minutes so as to caramelize like CRAZY.  Stir and leave another two minutes.  Add seasoning, stir and let cook one more minute. Pour the chicken broth over the chicken and add the yams. Stir and bring to a boil.  Turn down the heat to low, cover (leaving a slight crack for air) and cook for thirty minutes.  Add the tomatoes, collards, and peanut butter into the soup and stir.  At this point, you should make SURE to get a spoonful of peanut butter into your mouth.  You know you want to.  Partially cover the pot again and continue cooking on low, stirring occasionally, for about another fifteen-to-twenty minutes.  Have plenty of tasting spoons nearby for “quality control”, which in my kitchen, means it tastes so good I can’t stop tasting it!