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!)

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!

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.  

ISLAND KITCHEN

 LASDI ©

LASDI©

This catering job was FUN!  A lot of hard work, but really, really FUN!!  This was for a graduation party, and the theme was Hawaiian.  Now you KNOW I love and appreciate a good theme, and after some communication, we finally agreed on a menu consisting of sticky chicken drumsticks, garlic mashed potatoes, Hawaiian crispy spring rolls, teriyaki meatballs, and a fruit-and-cheese display that ROCKED.  The Hubster built the pineapple stand for the tree in the center of the display, and I am SUPER proud of it!  

A HUGE hit were the Hawaiian crispy spring rolls, and though they weren't a cinch to make on a large scale for 100 people, they are not hard to make and worth the effort if it's for family dinner or an appetizer to entertain.

So I invite you to join me in my kitchen, and let's bring the Hawaiian islands to YOURS!!

HAWAIIAN CRISPY SPRING ROLLS

canola oil

1/2 red pepper, sliced paper thin

2 carrots, grated

8 bamboo shoots, sliced paper thin

green or savoy cabbage, about a half-head, shredded

1 cup bean sprouts (fresh or canned - if canned, drained)

1 cup rice noodles, soaking in warm water

2 tbs oyster sauce

2 tbs soy sauce

sea salt

pepper

10 spring roll wrappers

1 egg, beaten

1/2 pkg unsweetened shredded coconut

Heat enough canola oil in the bottom of a deep pan or wok to cover the bottom, and on medium-high heat for about a minute-and-a-half.  Add all your vegetables and cook everything together until they are soft, but al denté.  Strain noodles and add those to the vegetable mix, and then add oyster sauce, soy sauce, salt, and pepper. Mix well and remove from the heat, and pour into a bowl.  Place a spring roll wrapper in front of you, with one corner toward you so that it looks like a diamond. Brush the edges of the wrapper with the beaten egg. Add about a tablespoon or two of the filling in the bottom part of the wrapper in a thin log-like shape, being careful not to touch the edges. Leave about 1/2 inch at the bottom.  Sprinkle with a bit of the shredded coconut.  Lift the wrapper over the top and tuck it in under the filling. Fold over the left side, and then the right side and roll it up to form a tube-like little package. Brush a little more egg along the top part and seal the roll.  Repeat this process until all your rolls are full and ready to be cooked.  Place a pan over medium-high heat, and sprinkle with enough canola oil to cover the bottom and about an inch up the sides.  Wait until the oil is hot - about two-to-three minutes - and then deep fry the egg rolls until they are lightly brown on one side, turning and lightly browning on the other side. Drain them on paper towels or a cooling rack with paper towel underneath for your roll to stay extra-crispy.

NOTES:  Serve with your favorite dipping sauce, or for these in particular, make it a spicy pineapple sauce!

PICNIC LUNCH

  LASDI2016©

LASDI2016©

I am learning that catering doesn't always mean a fancy, sophisticated spread.  Sometimes may also be doing a ton of amuse bouche or appetizers, and sometimes the theme could be low-key and understated - and yet still very appreciated!  In this particular case, I made a picnic-style lunch of gorgeous paninis with three kinds of cheese and shaved deli turkey on sprouted-grain bread, hand-crafted veggie-chip blend, baked cornichon, and the most wonderful chocolate chip cookies that were crisp on the outside and just-soft-enough in the middle that they melted in the clients' mouths!  I know, because they said so!!  I have a little trick for uniform cookies so read on in the recipe to see what that little hack is!!

CHOCOLATE CHIP PICNIC COOKIES

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tbs vanilla extract
1 pkg (16 oz) chocolate chips

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Beat together butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in egg. Add vanilla and mix well. slowly add flour mixture until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips. HACK PART ONE:  Spread your mixture onto a prepared baking sheet to meet the edges.   Bake until cookie "cake" is brown, which is approximately 13 minutes.  HACK PART TWO: Take a circular (or whatever shape) cookie-cutter (I used a small round with tiny scalloped edges for this catering job) and immediately cut your shape into the sheet of baked cookie.  DO NOT REMOVE.  Immediately place your cookie sheet in the freezer and leave there for anywhere between fifteen minutes to a half hour.  When you pull out the cookie sheet, carefully remove your cookies and keep the scraps for another recipe or as a treat for later!  I freeze mine and use in cheesecake for Sunday Supper!

NOTES: I use all-organic ingredients but it is not necessary for the flavor in the cookies for this particular recipe.  Also, be on the watch for your husband sneaking his nose into the freezer for the scraps you are saving for later.  I'm not trying to throw anyone in my house under the bus (The Hubster)......I'm just sayin'......

YES, PEAS!

  SHE2016

SHE2016

I LOVE the part of the Life As She Does It quadrant that allows me to cook for people.  It truly is a joy for me.  This catering job was for my home church and was a lot of fun to set up for, too.  The May menus to choose from included Kentucky Derby (of course!) and that is what they chose!  The menu was made up of Kentucky Bourbon Chicken, Muddy Mash,  Southern Greens, a Mint Julep Pea Salad, Honey Biscuits, and Pecan Pie for dessert.  WOW!  Well, believe it or not, everyone went WILD for the pea salad (said no one ever!!).  They really loved it and asked me about it for days afterwards.  And even if you don't typically care for peas, trust me when I say you should VERY MUCH still try this at home!  It's also perfect for the Spring-time warmer weather!

MINT JULEP PEA SALAD

1 bag frozen peas, thawed and drained

1 small pkg Spring mix greens, chopped fine

3 hard boiled eggs, diced

1 cup sharp white cheddar, shredded

4 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped roughly

1/2 cup mint, diced fine

1 cup sour cream

2 tbs milk

1 tbs sea salt

1 tbs pepper

The ease of these peas is CRAZY!!  Watch this: Mix all ingredients.  Serve.  BOOM

NOTES:  I use organic ingredients, but I think as far as flavor for this recipe it is not absolutely necessary.  I do notice the texture of organic sour cream is different from that of the regular.  I also notice an empty bowl every single time I make this!!

 

 

WELCOME TO TEXAS, Y'ALL!

  SHE2016©

SHE2016©

The latest catering gig was for a meeting where some of the participants were flying into Texas from Indiana.  So providing lunch for this group was FUN because I wanted to welcome them TEXAS-STYLE!  I literally named the menu "Welcome to Texas, Y'all!".  Of course that meant stuffed barbecue chicken thighs, home-made baked beans, mini cornbread muffins, bacon-wrapped green bean stacks, cabbage salad with slaw dressing, and Texas tornado bars for dessert!  It was a huge hit and the chicken was delicious!!  So I have given you the gift of the easy recipe below!  Y'all.

Peppers & Cream Cheese-Stuffed Barbecue Chicken Thighs

extra virgin olive oil (evoo)

1 green bell pepper, diced finely

1 red bell pepper, diced finely

1 yellow bell pepper, diced finely

1/2 red onion, diced finely

1 tbs sea salt

1 tbs pepper

1 tbs cumin

1 tbs paprika

2 pkgs cream cheese, softened

2 pkgs chicken thighs

sea salt

pepper

garlic powder

1 cup barbecue sauce

1/2 cup mustard

1 tbs Worcestershire sauce

In a heavy pan (I use my cast-iron skillet, of course!), sprinkle enough evoo to cover the bottom and heat for one minute on medium flame.  Add all peppers and onion, and cook for two minutes.  Add sea salt, pepper, cumin, and garlic, and then stir and cook another two minutes.  Remove from heat and add to the cream cheese in a bowl.  Stir until creamy smooth.  Pound each chicken thigh out to make sure it is not uneven.  Add a teaspoon of the cream cheese and bell pepper mix to the middle and roll, laying each one on a prepared baking sheet, fold-side down.  Place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, up to an hour.

Remove from freezer and sprinkle the tops with evoo, and then sprinkle a little sea salt and a little pepper and garlic powder as well.  Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.  Meanwhile, mix barbecue sauce, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce together in a bowl.  Once fifteen minutes is up, baste the chicken thighs liberally with barbecue sauce mixture.  Bake another fifteen minutes.  Cowboy up!!

NOTES:  The longer you keep the thighs in the freezer, the less the cheese mixture will run out as the chicken cooks.  This is low-carb, too!

ONE A PENNY, TWO A PENNY...

  SHE2016©

SHE2016©

Hot cross buns!!  Do you remember that nursery rhyme?  It really stands out to me every Easter because I make the savory version to serve with our traditional ham, decadent potatoes, peas and carrots, salami pie, with carrot cake for dessert.  I even served a Cottontail Cocktail with it this year and it brought out the flavor of the raisins and currants in the buns.  If you've never tried them or had them, try this recipe!!  Share them with your family!  And "If you have no daughters, feed them to your sons.  One a penny, two a penny, HOT CROSS BUNS!!"

SAVORY HOT CROSS BUNS

1/2 cup apple juice

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 dried currants

1 1/4 cups milk

2 large eggs, plus one egg yolk (save the white for later)

6 tablespoons butter, softened

1 pkg fast rising yeast

1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1 tbs ground cinnamon

1 tsp allspice

1 tsp ground nutmeg

2 tsp sea salt

1 tbs baking powder

4 1/2 cups flour

for the baste: 

1 large egg white

2 tbs milk

for after they are baked:

4 tbs melted butter

Combine the raisins, currants, and apple juice in a small sauce pan, and bring to a small boil, just till the fruit and liquid are very warm, and then remove from heat. Set aside to cool to room temperature. When the fruit mixture is cool, mix together all of the remaining ingredients except the milk and fruit. Heat the milk to just warm - don't boil it - and add to the dough mixture.  Fold in the fruit and apple juice mixture.  Let the dough rise for an hour, covered. 
Using a greased ice cream scoop, form about 12 to 14 buns, and arrange them into a greased 9x13 pan.  Cover the pan, and let the buns rise for another hour, or until they've puffed up and are touching each another.  Whisk together the reserved egg white and milk, and brush it liberally over the buns.  Bake the buns at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, until they're golden brown. Remove from the oven, baste with the melted butter, and transfer to a rack to cool.

NOTES: These are usually served with less savory spices, and with different types of dried fruits.  It usually has a sweet cream cheese frosting drizzled ver it in the shape of a cross; hence the name!  In this instance, I made them much more savory and skipped the sweet frosting and I.  Am. Telling.  YOU.  They were insanely good - like, RIDICULOUS good.