Sweet Widdle Punkin'

LASDI©

LASDI©

This perfect crown jewel of the Autumn Season turned out BEYOND!! Look, even if you’re not a super-huge cheesecake fan OR if you hate all things pumpkin, I cannot tell you how much you need to try this recipe!! TRUST ME - no matter what - you will love this. You. Will. LOVE THIS……It looks daunting at first, but I promise it’s a cake walk! (No pun intended!!)

1 and 1/3 cups graham crackers crumbs

1/4 cup melted butter

2- 8 oz okgs cream cheese , softened

1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs

1 cup (or one can) pumpkin

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp clove

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp allspice

The very important part here is to preheat your oven; HOWEVER COMMA, you must preheat it lower than standard ovens start, which is typically at 350. YOU MUST PREHEAT YOUR OVEN TO 300 FOR THIS RECIPE SO AS TO SLOW COOK HIS BABY TO ITS RIGHTFUL BEAUTY.

Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, including up the sides as much as possible. Combine the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter in the 9x 13-inch pan prepared pan, and press to the bottom evenly. In a separate bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar on low speed until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, but do not over-blend. Spoon half of the mixture over the crust and carefully spread evenly. Add the pumpkin puree and all spices to the remaining cream cheese mixture and blend until smooth. Carefully spoon over mixture in pan.

Bake 45 minutes minutes or until just set. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Turn off the oven and leave the door barely open to allow the cheesecake to cool slowly, for about 45 minutes or until oven has cooled. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before cutting into desired shapes. They can be cut into bars, but in my case, I use a circular cutter. I whip some heavy whipping cream and freshly-grated nutmeg together and top the pumpkin cheesecake with a dollup. These SCREAM autumn!!!! (The DAUGHTS just informed me that it is actually National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day at the time of this blog post! How ya like them punkins??)

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!

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!!

LIFE'S A BEACH

LASDI©

LASDI©

This particular catering gig was in June, so being the Themer-Girl I am, it only made sense that the summer menu was called Beach Party Roast.  It consisted of roasted salmon, roasted mini-sweet peppers loaded with green onion, cream cheese, and shredded cheddar, roasted asparagus, roasted beach bread, and sandy beach parfaits that I found a recipe for from a Texas-girl blogger.  With all of that yumminess, the peppers got quite a bit of attention.  I had the opportunity to pop a few in my mouth, and could completely see why they were so addictive!  Plus they're easy to make and low-carb!!  Shout out to The Daughts for the cute-and-appropriate title to this post!

MINI SWEET PEPPER POPPERS

1 bag tri-colored mini sweet peppers (about 20) seeded, and cut lengthwise

1 block cream cheese

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 bunch green onion, sliced thin (both green and white ends)

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp pepper

Combine cream cheese, shredded cheddar, green onion, sea salt and pepper in a bowl.  Microwave for 15 seconds.  Mix well with a spoon and let stand about a minute or two.  Scoop a mound of cheese mixture into each pepper and press into pepper, careful not to over-mound so your cheese doesn't leak out during cooking.  Refrigerate for about an hour.  Heat oven to 400 degrees and bake peppers for 20 minutes; switch oven to broiler and broil peppers until cheese is brown and bubbly - about five minutes.  Let rest five minutes before serving, then pop a few in your mouth before putting them on the table because they go quick!!

NOTES: These are great for your Vegetarian Friends.  For you Meat Eaters, and for extra flavor, you can crumble some bacon into the cheese mixture, or just about anything you like!  I know an entire bunch of green onion seems like a lot, but it really lends an herbaceous, chivey taste to these loves.  For July, and some added heat, I use jalapenos in place of the sweet peppers for hot pepper poppers!  These are great served warm or room temperature and make a great side or appetizer.  

BREAKING BREAD

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LASDI©

You won't believe this.  I mean, it took me a few blank stares and lots (and lots!) of tastes to believe it myself!  

As you know, I'm the low-carb girl of the family, and quite often cook that way without The Hubster even noticing.  Well, this is another sneaky-not-sneaky way of getting our low-carb on without allowing him to feel like he is missing out on anything.

For Superbowl Sunday,  he wanted wings and turkey burgers.  So of course I made them instead of buying them because that way I can control the ingredients.  For the burger buns I made cauli-bread.  Yes, I know.  That doesn't sound like the appealing direction I was taking when you first started reading.  But trust me here - this was OUTSTANDING!

I took a few recipes that I found along with some that were sent to me, added my own flare and touches, and came up with what I think is the best "bread" you could ask for!  This recipe is for flat, round buns.  And it was beyond delish!

CAULI-BUNS

1 head cauliflower, "riced" (Or if you can find it pre-made in a bag, PERFECT!) (see notes)

3 eggs

1 cup mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1 tbs sea salt

1 tbs pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (this is CRUCIAL for the success of these "breads").  Place mounds of the cauli-mixture into whatever mold suits your purpose.  In this case, it was the same round mold we used for the turkey burgers so they would fit perfectly.  Bake for about 20 minutes.  here's the thing: if they are not golden brown on top, WAIT UNTIL THEY ARE.  Flip for 5 more minutes.  Let rest for a minute or two before removing from the baking sheet.

NOTES:  Don't use frozen cauliflower or froze riced cauliflower, as there will just be too much moisture.  The other thing about this recipe is you can litch-rah-lay do whatever you want to make it INTO whatever you want.  For example: add lots of Italian seasoning and plenty of garlic and shape it into a long mound and you've got breadsticks!  If you want, you can add fresh sage and a tiny bit more sea salt and you've got hasbrown bread!  If you like, you can add cheese at the very end and heat until melty and you've got cheesy bread!  This is also SHEsTox-friendly for Week Three!  I promise you this, you will NOT believe how "bready" these things are.  It's delicious INSANITY without the carbs!

PLAYING SQUASH

turkeytenderloinandsquash

All year long I wait in anticipation for October to get here.  For my family, it means our annual Fall Family Day, the start of the Renaissance Festival, and all things autumn eating!!  For October, and considering my obsessive compulsivité, I cook orange-colored things or autumn-inspired foods.  So this night I had a turkey tenderloin that I cooked up with clove, sea salt and pepper, served in its own juices, and I paired it with the butternut squash and dried cranberries I had in the fridge.  The squash was AH-MAHZ.  Like, the stuff dreams are made of.  So that's the recipe you have here.  Happy Autumn, Everyone!  Be blessed in abundance!

BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH DRIED CRANBERRIES

1 butternut squash, halved and seeded

extra virgin olive oil (evoo)

1 tbs sea salt

1 tbs pepper

1 tbs pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp cayenne

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup parsley, chopped finely

Sprinkle the two halves of the squash with evoo, place flesh-side-down on a prepared baking sheet, and roast at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Let cool for five minutes.  Scoop out the flesh from the inside of the squash into a pan sprinkled lightly with evoo.  Add seasonings and smash with a potato masher while it cooks on medium heat for about one minute and to desired consistency.  Remove from heat and gently fold cranberries in.  Sprinkle with parsley before serving.  This is SHEtox Week Three -friendly and low-carb!

Mellow Yellow

LASDI  ©

LASDI©

So there I was, staring at another piece of fish and wondering how in the WORLD I was going to put it on a plate with  a little variety.  I considered my obsessive compulsivité with colors and months and wondered if I could fit in that it was August and that means yellow.  I looked in the fridge for whatever veggies I might have to help out, and lo-and-behold!  I found yellow squash, yellow bell peppers, and lemons!  I made lemon-thyme cod, sauteed peppers and onions, and yellow squash moots-a-rell au gratin.  This was going to be fun AND delicious to cook AND eat!  This is totally Week Three-friendly for the Detox & Cleanse, low-carb for all you low-carbers, and delicious for all you EVERYONES!!  

YELLOW SQUASH MOOTS-A-RELL AU GRATIN

4 yellow squash, sliced about 1/2 inch thick

1 can rotel

1- 8 oz pkg mozzarella cheese

1 tbs sea salt

1 tbs white pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

Place one even layer of squash in a prepared 9x13 baking pan, sprinkle with half the can of rotel, mozzarella cheese, sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Place the rest of the squash in a layer over the first layer, then repeat with the other half of the rotel, seasonings, and cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly on top.