Sunday, November 15, 2020

Candy Apples

Candy apples are a Halloween staple. They are super inexpensive, fairly easy, and always look sooooo shiny and cool. 
I did black this year for Halloween as a Poison Apple - which would work well for a snow white theme as well. You can make your candy apples any color you like! Just add your favorite color food gel.

Boiling sugar can be a little terrifying so you want to take all the precautions when making these. Investing in a good candy thermometer will make your life a whole lot easier too! 
I got 12 smallish apples from one recipe with a little candy leftover. If your apples are larger I'd say you should get about 9. 
Tip - pour leftover candy onto a cookie tray lined with parchment paper sprayed with a little cooking spray. You can then break it up and eat it. I used my extra red candy as "broken bloody glass" to decorate some Halloween cupcakes. 

Candy Apples

12 small apples
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup clear corn syrup
1 cup water
1 tsp food coloring

Wash and thoroughly dry the apples. Push skewers or sticks carefully into each apple.
In a large pot: mix the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Heat to 300 degrees.

Have a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and lightly sprayed with cooking spray ready for the apples to sit on. I sprinkled a few black sprinkles on top but this is extra and you don't have to do it if you don't want to.
Once sugar mixture reaches 300, remove from heat and stir in food coloring. 
Dip each apple into the candy and swirl to coat. Let the apple drip over the pot while gently shaking for about 30 seconds. Set apple on the prepared cookie tray. Repeat with remaining apples.
You need to work fairly quickly as the candy sets fast. 

Chill to set.

I used a coffin shaped box lined with parchment paper for serving at Halloween.

The sprinkles add a little crunch too the bottom of the apples. Again, not necessary just a fun addition. 

Depending on the type of food coloring you are using, you may need to add more than 1 tsp. The black gel I used 1 tsp and my apples were very black. I needed to add a bit more when I made the red ones. I think about 1 1/2 tsp of red gel. 
Candy apples only take about half an hour to whip up, you just need to be careful around the boiling sugar! FYI - the easiest way to eat them is to cut them into wedges. 

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Keto Chicken Ramen


If you are doing low carb or keto then you know noodles tend to be off the menu. I found these great konjac noodles that work as a sub in most recipes that have zero net carbs.
Yes, the texture is a little me anyway.... they are far chewier than "normal" noodles. But in a ramen soup they work very well! I used the Angel hair version from NuPasta but there are many brands out there to try! My recipe makes 3 servings of ramen. The nutritional counts per serving are: 293 calories, 16 fat, 10.3 carbs, 4.3 fiber, and 29 protein. That's 7 net carbs for a hearty bowl of ramen noodles! Perfect for keto or low carb diets or if you just want to try something a little different!
Be sure to enter your ingredients into your own nutritional tracker if you need exact counts - they vary depending on size and brand. 

Keto Chicken Ramen

Chicken Marinade
4 chicken thighs (boneless, skinless)
1 1/4 tsp olive oil
1 1/4 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp tomato paste
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp sriracha
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 Tbsp lime juice

1 cup baby bok choy
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 box Campbell's Pho broth (about 4 cups)
1 box Nupasta Angel Hair konjac noodles, rinsed and set in hot water
3soft boiled eggs, peeled
1 tsp sesame seeds
3/4 cup green onions, diced
1/2 - 1 tsp sriracha
1/2 package dried seaweed

Prepare chicken - mix all the chicken marinade ingredients together in a large Ziplock bag (or bowl). Shake the chicken in the bag to coat well. Marinade 2 hours up to overnight. 
After marinating for several hours, up to overnight, broil the chicken for about 5 minutes on each side to cook. (You can also grill if you prefer). Slice or chop the chicken after it is cooked.

Assemble the ramen - Stir fry the bok choy in the 1/2 tsp of sesame oil until just wilted. At the same time bring the Pho broth to a boil. Pour into serving bowls. 

Add in the cooked bok choy, broiled chicken, konjac noodles. Top with the boiled egg, green onions, sesame seeds, and seaweed. Season with extra sriracha, if desired.

Serve hot. 
Soy sauce is also a great addition for serving. If you can't get the Pho broth then chicken or pork broth will also work. 
I'm a newcomer when it comes to making ramen but I have to say... I'm a big fan! I can't wait to try different combinations of ingredients. 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Keto Beef Stew


Looks like a regular beef stew, doesn't it?
It tastes like a delicious, comforting, beef stew but it is keto friendly! How? Well, we left out the potatoes and put in a few turnips instead. You could also use daikon if you have it. We used a little xanthan gum as a thickener instead of flour as well so as well as being low carb it is also gluten free!
I love making stew when the cold weather sets in. It only takes about 15 minutes of prep and then it bubbles on the stove top for a couple of hours making your house smell amazing! 

Keto Beef Stew

1 1/2 lbs beef, cut in small chunks
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp oil
4 1/2 cups beef broth
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp Worcestershire
1 bay leaf
1 lb turnip, cut in chunks
2 medium carrots, cut in chunks
1 onion, diced fairly large
1 celery stalk, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 Tbsp parsley, garnish


First step - chop all your veggies. 

In a large pot, cook the beef and salt in the oil until browned over medium heat. Remove the beef and set aside. 
Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup of the beef broth. Add in the red wine vinegar, tomato paste, Worcestershire, and bay leaf. Stir well. Pour in the remaining beef broth. Place the beef back in the pot and let simmer on low heat for an hour. 
After an hour, add in all your vegetables. 
Remove 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and whisk in the xanthan gum. Stir this into the stew.
Continue to simmer for another hour or so - until nice and thick and veggies are tender.

Remove bay leaf and discard. 
Serve hot, sprinkled with a little parsley. 

The recipe, as written, makes 6 servings. According to MyFitnessPal the counts are: 341 calories, 20 fat, 9 carbs, 3 fiber, and 31 protein. So 6 net carbs per serving. 
This is one of those meals that no one will notice isn't "normal" stew. I promise. 
My mother insists on having barley in all her soups and stews so I just boiled her up a little bit in a separate pot and added it to hers when I served it and she was none the wiser. 

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Big Batch Bacon and Kielbasa Mac And Cheese With Mediterranean Cabbage Salad

I am never making another macaroni and cheese recipe again. This is the one!
It has the most amazing flavor. You know how most mac & cheese is just "meh"... like, not terrible but not *jazz hands*. This is super *jazz hands* with a little *razzle dazzle* thrown in for good measure. 
It is a big batch - like it makes about 20+ cups of mac and cheese. I developed it for a meal program I was running. For a smaller, family sized amount I would maybe just make 1/4 of it. The size here is perfect for a potluck or if you want to make up some meals to share with extended family/friends. 
The Mediterranean Cabbage Salad is the perfect accompaniment. It is light and refreshing and helps add a few veggies to an otherwise carb-heavy meal! 
First up the salad:

Mediterranean Cabbage Salad with Garlic Vinaigrette 

4 cups cabbage, shredded (or thinly slices)
4 large tomatoes, sliced and seeded
2 English cucumbers, sliced
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1 tsp dried dill
1/2 red onion, sliced
garlic vinaigrette (I use Simply Natural Organic Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette)

Place all ingredients, except vinaigrette, in a large bowl.

Drizzle on a little of the vinaigrette and toss gently. 

Cover and chill until ready to serve. 
When ready to serve: serve with more vinaigrette and add as needed.
On to the main course!

Big Batch Bacon and Kielbasa Mac and Cheese

2 lbs macaroni, cooked
1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 pkgs kielbasa sausage
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
3/4 cup butter
2 onions, diced
3/4 cup flour
8 cups milk, warmed
1 16 oz brick aged cheddar
1 16 oz brick Monterey Jack cheese
2 cups parmesan, shredded (divided)
4 oz cream cheese
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dry mustard powder
2 Tbsp fresh parsley

Before starting: boil your macaroni and set it aside and cook your bacon and set aside as well. 
Prepare the kielbasa sausage: place sliced sausage onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with a little BBQ sauce. Place under broiler until it starts to brown. Flip the pieces over and broil another 3 - 4 minutes - until browned. Set aside.

Prepare mac and cheese - In a LARGE pot (I use a canning pot), melt the butter and add in the onions. Let cook for a minute. Add in the flour and cook another minute, until thickened. 
Very gradually add in the milk, stirring in between additions until smooth. Cook about 5 minutes until thickened. Reduce the heat and add in all the cheeses (reserve 1 cup of Parmesan for sprinkling on top). Stir until melted.

Add in the spices and stir well.
Lastly, stir in the cooked sausage, bacon, and macaroni.

Let heat through and then serve. 

Don't forget to sprinkle generously with the reserved parmesan cheese.

Don't you want to just crawl right in there? 
Best mac and cheese EVER! 

I got 10 very large servings out of this (2 + cups of macaroni and 1+ cup of salad). If you were bringing this as a side dish to a potluck you would get 20 - 1 cup servings quite easily. 
You can half or quarter this recipe with no problem for smaller amounts. 
The macaroni is so flavorful. 4 cheeses and the smoky sausage and bacon make for the best macaroni EVER!

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Salty Pirate Monkey Cocktail


The toughest part of creating a new recipe is coming up with a name. I am TERRIBLE at naming recipes. I either go with way too much information in the title and it ends up being 4 paragraphs long, or I try to be all clever and completely miss the mark. 
This time I went to my friends on Facebook and had them help me out! 
My friends are all geniuses, in case you were wondering! They came up with names like "Bananas Faster (like bananas foster but with coffee)", "the boozy monkey", "the drunken monkey", "caramel banana dalgona", "spiked caramel banana split", and so many more great ideas. 
My friend Melissa came up with The Salty Pirate Monkey and I'm sticking with it. So fun, right? It has hints about what's in the drink and at the same time is just super fun to say. 
Let's make the Salty Pirate Monkey the new viral cocktail. It's half dessert, half drink and aaaaallll deliciousness! Recipe, as written, makes 1 large boozy milkshake cocktail but can easily be doubled or tripled. If you are a fan of boozy milkshakes then it is juuuuust the right size! 

The Salty Pirate Monkey Cocktail

Dalgona Coffee Whip
1 Tbsp instant coffee
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp very hot water

Banana Bailey's Milkshake
1 frozen banana
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup salted caramel Baileys
2 Tbsp dark rum

Prepare the dalgona coffee whip - in a small bowl, whisk (or use beaters) the instant coffee, brown sugar, and hot water until super foamy. This takes a few minutes and should resemble whipped cream when ready. 
Prepare the milkshake - place frozen banana, milk, Salted Caramel Baileys, rum, and ice into a blender and blend until smooth. If you like it thick then add more ice. I usually add 2 good sized handfuls of ice. 
Pour the milkshake into a large glass and top with the whipped coffee topping.

I like to serve it like that as it looks pretty impressive BUT when you go to drink it you definitely want to give it a good stir. 
The coffee whip is very strong so a mouthful of it right out of the gate will shock you. Make sure you mix it up well. 

Still looks pretty. 

And tastes soooooo good! Salted Caramel Baileys and rum, banana milkshake with a coffee twist. Everything you didn't know you needed. 

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Oreo Beignets (Mini Oreo Donut Bites)


I love donuts of all kinds. Beignets are adorable little bite sized donuts that... if you stuff with Oreos... are exactly what heaven tastes like. Pretty sure. 
Donuts of any kind are always a little bit of work because you have to make the dough, let it rise, shape it, let it rise, then cook it. They are ALWAYS worth the effort though. Don't let anyone tell you different. These little pillows of deliciousness are no different. All the tastiness of a beignet with a little secret surprise inside! 

Oreo Beignets (Mini Oreo Donut Bites)

one bag Mini Oreo Cookies
icing sugar, for dusting

Prepare dough as per original recipe (HERE) to just after the first rise. 
Punch dough down and roll to about 1/4 inch thickness. Using a 2 - 3 inch cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough. 

Place a mini oreo into the center of each round. 

Pinch the edges together very tightly. Place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet. (NOTE - I like to cut the parchment paper into small squares, this makes it easier to transfer to the oil without deflating the dough.)
Let rise for another 30 minutes, then start heating oil to 350 degrees.

When oil reaches 350 (for best results use a thermometer), fry 5 or 6 beignets at a time. One minute, then flip and another minute on the other side. Dough should be golden brown. 

Remove from oil to paper towels to cool. 
When all are fried and cool, sprinkle generously with icing sugar. Donuts must be cool or the icing sugar will disappear. 

These are best eaten the day they are made but can be kept for a day in an airtight container. 

You get A LOT of these bad boys. I didn't count but I'd say about 4 - 5 dozen? Next time I make them I will count so I have a better idea! 

A perfect treat to make to share with friends and family! 
You can freeze them before you put the icing sugar on and then thaw them at a later time. Once completely thawed you can then sprinkle with icing sugar.