Monday, September 17, 2012

Teach a Kid to Blog - PLUS a Restaurant Review

Photo from:
http://blog.hubspot.com/Portals/249/images/i_love_blogging1.jpg
Hi there again, food fans.

I had an interesting experience this past week that led me here.

I was asked by a friend and former co-worker to be a guest speaker in her 8th grade class. The topic: blogging.

Wait, what?

Believe me, I know.

It all happened so fast! Before I knew it, it was Friday morning and I was standing in front of a group of kiddos, introducing them to the wonders of blogging.

I came prepared with an arsenal of candy and goodies because crossing the threshold of a junior high instantly evokes all long-forgotten feelings of LIKE MEEEE! A few years under one's belt and that all changes, according to my friend the teacher. But not for me. LIKE MEEEE!

In all seriousness, I thoroughly enjoyed being back in a classroom again. The students were wonderful and so full of enthusiasm. I earned my degrees with every intention of teaching once I finished, and only time will tell whether that's where my life takes me. But it's experiences like last Friday that keep the spark going.

The experience also got me thinking about my blog and why it can be so hard to dedicate time to it. Part of it is my fault. But I also see people who manage to cram so much into their days, and all I can think is, there are still 24 hours in the day, right? How do they do it?! I wish I were that... together. But I'm not. Many nights, we don't have homecooked meals. We have thrown-together-ness. A last minute effort to put something in our bellies. My husband works a lot of evening shifts, and it's hard to work up enough give-a-damn to cook a meal at that point, much less photograph it for the blogosphere.

I know. Excuses, excuses.

In an effort to make amends for this, I'd like to switch gears a little bit, blog-wise. I still have every intention of posting recipes and how-tos. Cooking is as important to me now as it has ever been. But so is eating. I love eating. My waistline is a testament to my food love affair. To better reflect this interest of mine, I'd like to incorporate some restaurant reviews into my blog in the hopes it will alleviate some of the gaps I experience due to a lack of cooking and thereby a lack of recipes. I know a lot of blogs post recipes picture-free, and I enjoy a lot of these blogs. However, it is important to me to maintain a visual element to my blog, and that takes time, guys. When I do it, I want it done right. So for the times when I can't do it right, you'll get to hear about the food I am eating.

I know some of you don't live in the area, but I hope you'll stay for the foodie chit chat. I love hearing about food from far off places and adding it to my foodie bucket list. I hope maybe some of my reviews will do the same for you, should you ever be in my neck of the woods, and also educate you on some places to avoid. Trust me, I'll be sufficiently up front about the misses and not just the hits.

So, without further ado, let's move on to my first review, shall we?



Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Morning at the Red Stick Farmers Market

Hey, ya'll!

Normally I cringe at that word—ya'll—the way one does when they watch a FailBlog video or hears someone mispronounce a common word or name. Yeah, you know that face. But on this occasion it seems appropriate since recently spent a morning in "Red Stick." For those unfamiliar with Louisiana colloquialisms, Baton Rouge, the state's capital, is actually a French term meaning "Red Stick."

Baton = stick


Rouge = red


Now strike that, reverse it. 


Every weekend in Downtown Baton Rouge, local growers gather under a smattering of tents tucked away in a precious little corner of the city. Joining them are assorted bakers and home cooks who also come out to share their culinary gifts with the masses. But once a month, on the first Saturday of each month, to be precise, this crew that represents themselves as the Red Stick Farmers Market step it up.


The community of tents doubles in size as crafters and local artists join the ranks. And in a building that hugs the perimeter of the market, there are even more booths for coconut cakes, caponata, and sausages to be sold, to name a few of the many wares. The best part: a gathering of musicians plucking away at their various, oddly shaped instruments playing fun little ditties like "Squirrel Heads in Gravy."

Yup. You read that right.

Nope. Not making that up.

Check it out...

video

How about that?


Sadly, I didn't have my camera with me. That video was taken with my cell phone. And it was so crowded around the market itself, I was never able to stop and take photos with it. Don't worry though; I'll be back soon enough, and next time I'll be ready.

In the meantime, what I can show you all is one of the dishes that I made with portions of my goodies! But first, check out this haul!


So many bright, beautiful colors!



Eggplant, Japanese eggplant, and a butternut squash.



Spicy onions and more Japanese eggplant.



Last but not least, a variety of tomatoes.


Is it sad that I get this excited over produce? But come on, they're gorgeous!

There is no limit to my food nerditude.

The Japanese eggplant and tiny tomatoes will become part of a roasted veggie pasta, and the butternut squash will be made into a light, summery soup. 

Can we talk about those green tomatoes? I didn't think I was a tomato lover until I tried a green tomato, and what better way to showcase this Southern sensation than by coating it in a cornmeal crust and frying it up? 

I've been on a serious green tomato kick for the past few weeks. I can't get enough. Just today, Hubs asked, "Boy, you're really into them, aren't you? Umm... just remember that I'm eating them too..." I get the picture, Hubs. You're not as obsessed as I am. But with such a small window of opportunity, I need to get my fix before it's too late!

I've been toying around with the many wonderful things that can be done with fried green tomatoes, and this recipe was inspired by a dish Hubs and I had when we stayed at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Mississippi, to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. We always visit one of the many hotel restaurants, Memphis Q, any time we stay there, and while we don't always stay for a full meal, we have to get our fix of their BBQ nachos—the best we've eaten outside of Memphis or our home—and their sourdough bread that is in plentiful supply throughout every visit. Because I lived in California for many years and know what true San Francisco sourdough tastes like, I'm a very picky little connoisseur, and Memphis Q just happens to have some of the best sourdough I've had since I left Cali.

On this particular occasion, we were just about to order our usual BBQ nachos when the waiter graciously informed us of the specials, starting with a fried green tomato appetizer. When listening to its very name made my mouth water, I knew we had to try it. 

It was delivered to our table and we feasted our eyes on the fried green tomato mountain before us, a tiny little volcano oozing forth a creamy, slightly tomatoey crawfish sauce tinged with notes of paprika and cumin. The BBQ nachos were pushed aside as we devoured our newest discovery, taking special care to mop up every last drop of sauce with pieces of sourdough.

While this isn't exactly diet food, a small helping goes a long way. And best of all, you won't have to drag out the deep fryer for this one! Here's the thing about fried green tomatoes: the crust clings better when you pan-fry it. This dish utilizes the green tomatoes pictured above, as well as some of the spicy onions my farmers market buddy Sarah shared with me. Sarah is also who requested this post, so shout out to Sarah! Yay!

This is one of those "little effort, big reward" dishes, and aren't those just the best?



Memphis Q Fried Green Tomatoes with Creamy Crawfish Sauce

Ingredients
1 large or two small green tomatoes, sliced 1/3-inch thick
Crusty bread (optional)

Wash:
1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
1 tablespoon hot sauce (I like Louisiana brand, but to each his own)

Dredge:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon Tony Chachere cajun seasoning, or your fave
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Sauce:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced spicy onions (or shallots are fine)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon Tony Chachere cajun seasoning, or your fave
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
juice of 1/2 lemon
2/3 cup crawfish tails

For frying:
vegetable oil

Directions

1. Combine the wash ingredients using a whisk or a fork in a shallow storage container. Arrange the sliced green tomatoes in the buttermilk mixture, flipping them around to saturate them completely. Place the lid on the storage container and let the tomatoes marinate for at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour.

2. Combine the dredge ingredients in another shallow container. I like to use a cake pan or a pie dish. Use a whisk to make sure the spices are thoroughly combined with the flour/cornmeal. 

3. While the tomatoes marinate, work on the sauce. Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium-low heat and add the minced garlic and onion/shallots. Sautee until the onions are translucent and the garlic is fragrant. Add the tablespoon of flour and cook for one minute or until the flour flavor cooks out. Slowly add the chicken broth, whisking constantly until the mixture is smooth. Next, add the cream, spices, tomato paste, and lemon juice. When the sauce is warm and thickened, add the crawfish. Keep over low heat while you finish the tomatoes.

4. Warm the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a skillet. Meanwhile, remove your green tomato slices from the buttermilk mixture and dredge them in the cornmeal/flour mixture, coating each one completely and thoroughly. When your oil begins to slightly ripple, fry the tomatoes in batches. Cook for 1-2 minutes on the first side or until golden brown and then flip. Cook for another minute on the other side, and then transfer the fried green tomatoes to a paper towel-lined plate to drain while you prepare the remaining batches.

5. To serve, layer the fried green tomatoes on a plate and spoon the sauce over the top. Serve immediately with your favorite crusty bread, if desired.

Serves 2


My apologies for the quality of this photo. It was taken with a camera phone
because we were too excited about this dish to wait long enough to find the camera!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Help A Chick Out?

Hi, all!

Long time, no post. I know, I know.

Things have been pretty rough around here, and just when you'd think they couldn't get any rougher, they usually do. That being said, I figured all of you wouldn't be interested in all the ways I've been jazzing up Ramen noodles, hot dogs, and bologna, so I've let my blog go until I have something worthwhile to blog about. Believe me when I say I haven't forgotten about my blog or my readers, and I miss it dearly.

And now, the reason for this brief message...

This year, I carved three pumpkins for Halloween: a Death Star pumpkin, a Phineas and Ferb themed pumpkin featuring Perry the Platypus with cameos from Phineas and Ferb, and a Nightmare Before Christmas themed pumpkin featuring Jack Skellington. I entered them in a contest at Brickfish, with the first prize being a $500 gift card. The only catch is I need enough votes to make it to the top 5 to even be considered for the gift card. A $500 gift card may not seem like much to some, but for us, we would feel like Rockafellers. We could catch up on our bills and maybe even afford a nice dinner since my hubby and I weren't able to celebrate our anniversary this year and likely won't be celebrating Christmas as well.

All it takes is one click to vote--there is no sign up required. And I would really appreciate all the help I can get. I spent a lot of time on these pumpkins, particularly the Death Star pumpkin, which seems to be doing the best in this contest.

Oh yeah, and did I mention your votes would be benefiting my little helper, as well? Here's Chloe attempting to nom a little pumpkin...




I hope you'll excuse this little bit of spamming, but it's for a good cause, I promise. And hopefully, my luck will change soon enough and I'll be back to post about better, more delicious things.

Thank you all in advance for your help, and I hope to be back soon.


Death Star Pumpkin























Nightmare Before X-Mas Pumpkin























Phineas and Ferb Pumpkin

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Nothin' Says Lovin' Like Muffins from the Oven!

Ah, muffins. Can we just all agree that muffins are basically the breakfast version of cupcakes? The excuse to eat a sweet treat no matter what time of day it is? And how about their versatility? What can't you put in a muffin?


Sure, you could buy some muffins from the bakery section of your supermarket, but then you would be depriving yourself of what I like to think is a bonus feature of homemade, freshly baked muffins: air freshener! You can't package a smell that delicious!

Today's post is going to be short and sweet, but I promise I have good things coming soon.

I'm in full experimentation mode, and I'll be more than happy to share the results with you all soon enough. Be on the look out next week for a meatless Monday recipe. In the meantime, I have a favor.

My friend's mom has the greenest thumb of anyone I've ever known, and she has graciously bestowed upon me a generous helping of veggies from her gorgeous, gigantic garden. Among her gifts: white squash. Whaaa?

While I have some ideas on what I would like to do with them, I was wondering if any of you have experience with these Scrubbing Bubble-looking cuties. Any suggestions or recipes you would be willing to share?

Now, back to business. Delicious business. These little bites taste like berry muffins and cheesecake made sweet, sweet love and gave us this. Better yet, I managed to eliminate oil entirely from these muffins and still produce a moist, fluffy final product! Delectable and healthy? Come to mama! Also, these muffins are a great way to show off in season berries at their finest.

Berry Cheesecake Muffins

Ingredients:

1 cup granulated sugar
1-8 ounce package 1/3 fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla, divided
1/2 cup brown sugar blend Splenda (or 1 cup brown sugar)
2 eggs
1/2 cup no sugar added applesauce
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup blueberries

Instructions

1. In a small bowl, combine the room temperature cream cheese, granulated sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

2. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease a 12-muffin baking pan with cooking spray.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the applesauce, eggs, and vanilla.


4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

5. Use a fork to crumble and mash the chilled cream cheese mixture.

6. Add the cream cheese mixture crumbles, strawberries, and blueberries to the flour mixture and combine until all of the add ins are coated. Doing this will help keep the berries from sinking to the bottom of the muffins.


7. Add the flour mixture to the egg and applesauce mixture in batches, stirring until just combined.


8. Fill each muffin pan slot 3/4 full with batter.


9. Bake at 350˚F for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Couch Potato Confessions...


Hello, my name is Kelly, and I'm a lazyholic. No kidding. For weeks now, I've been letting my list of things I would like to do get longer and longer, but I've barely put a dent in actually accomplishing any of it. Writing. Visiting friends. Blogging.

However, I've been doing a wonderful job at being lazy. Spectacular, even, I dare say.

Today, I'm taking care of business. You know, during commercial breaks. First up, a new blog entry. I think what has disappointed me most of all is that I've had dishes ready for posting for over a week now, but I've been squandering my time. On today's entry: a quick and easy weeknight Asian dinner and another confession from a couch potato.



I. Love. Chinese. Buffets.

I am obsessed with Chinese buffets.

I am a self-proclaimed connoisseur of Chinese buffets.

And I have a problem.

For weeks now, I have had a never-ending craving for Chinese buffets. Trust me, I've satiated this craving several times now. Instantly, I want more. If I could afford it, I would eat at Chinese buffets every day of the week. But sadly, I cannot afford such fancies. My wallet cannot afford it, and my waistline cannot afford it.

I had to take drastic measures––cooking my own.

Last week, I made my own interpretation of General Tso's using shrimp and frozen veggies I had on hand. What I love––and you will love––about this recipe is its versatility. You can use chicken, shrimp, tofu, or whatever you have on hand. You can add in whatever veggies you like or happen to have on hand. You can make it as spicy or as mild as you like. You can even control the calories by skipping the pan frying and simply sauteing your protein.

Any delicious Asian dinner is not complete without a side of fried rice, and this one was no exception. To top it off, I baked up a frozen egg roll that my local grocery carries. They truly rival any restaurant egg roll.

If you are looking to bridge the gap between visits to your local Chinese restaurant, give this recipe a try.

I would also like to take a moment to extend my deepest gratitude to Poor Husband, who obediently accompanies me on my frequent Chinese buffet binges, and never with any eye rolling or scoffing. You're a peach, my love.

Future post sneak peek: I have a spiffed up Italian classic waiting in the wings, as well as plans for your leftovers, should there be any. Also, I'll be making a birthday meal for my amazing friend very soon, and I'll be sharing my results with you here. After much kicking and screaming (sure, it was an online conversation, but I know it was there), I finally got her to 'fess up on her ideal b-day meal, and nobody deserves it more than she does.

Until next time, enjoy these Amateur Noms!

General Tso's Shrimp

Ingredients:

3/4 pound peeled, deveined medium sized shrimp
3 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 egg white
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon cornstarch
cooking oil
2 cups frozen vegetables (I used a broccoli/carrot mix)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon cooking sherry
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2-4 teaspoons Sriracha sauce

Instructions:

1. Combine the egg white, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, and sesame oil in a bowl. Add the shrimp and toss until coated. Marinate for 20 minutes to 1 hour.

2. Heat your cooking oil in a skillet over medium heat. You need about 1/4-inch of oil.

3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the remaining soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, sherry, tomato paste, and Sriracha until well blended. Whisk in a tablespoon of cornstarch. Set aside.


4. Toss the shrimp in 1/2 cup cornstarch until they are lightly dusted, and pan fry in batches over medium heat for 1-2 minutes per side, or until golden brown and crisp. Allow the shrimp to drain on a paper towel-lined plate.


5. Put your frozen vegetables in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 3-5 minutes, or until warm. Drain any excess moisture.


6. Meanwhile, empty your skillet of any remaining oil, wipe it clean, and add the sauce mixture. Reduce the heat and cook over low heat until the mixture begins to thicken, 2-3 minutes.


7. Once the sauce has thickened, add the shrimp and vegetables and toss until coated. Serve immediately.



Optional toppings: Sliced green onions, chopped peanuts, sesame seeds


Fried Rice

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon cooking oil
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup diced carrots
1/4 cup diced mushrooms
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 egg, scrambled
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups cooked rice (brown or white, your preference)
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

Instructions:

1. Heat the cooking oils in a skillet over medium heat. Add the carrots, mushrooms, and onions and sautee until soft, 2-3 minutes.


2. Move the vegetables to one side of the pan and add the egg. Cook the egg and scramble it together with the vegetables.


3. Add the rice and butter and cook until warmed through, 1-2 minutes.

4. Add the soy sauce and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes.



And on the plate...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Feliz Cuatro de Mayo!


No, I'm not dense. Well, I'll leave that for you to decide after I show you the photo evidence of my little kitchen mishap. But I totally meant to say "cuatro." Why? Because I didn't celebrate Cinco de Mayo this year. I celebrated the day before. All because of my husband. My poor, poor husband. You see, tonight he is on his 12th hour at the restaurant where he works thanks to a party the owners booked. He deserves a medal for all that he does, really. Underpaid, under-appreciated, and overworked, to be sure. Since I didn't want him to miss out on la fiesta, I prepared a little Latin feast for the two of us last night, topped off with an evening of John Leguizamo's stand-up special. Latin food and latin stand-up? Eat your heart out, folks.

Before we jump into our night of good food, it's probably only right that I address my long, long, looooong absence. To put it simply, things got rough. My illnesses and hospitalizations and my husband's own hospitalization after his diabetes diagnosis were nothing compared to the hardships we were about to face, and we were so miserably unprepared. It was as though our lives were a snowball of bad luck and misfortune hurtling down the side of Mount Everest. Once the hits started, they just kept on coming. The one bright spot took place on Friday, March 11, 2011. That was the day my husband and I got married in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.


The snowball kept right on tumbling when we got back home, and a few weeks ago, we made it to a point that pushed me to some pretty hard decisions. Decisions that forced me to turn away from the life I have known for many years now, and I had to seriously analyze where I was going. I have to admit, I am worse off than I have ever been in my entire life. I truly have never faced such hardship. But when things got to the worst point we have seen so far, I was no longer able to cry. Instead, I laughed. And I've been laughing ever since. And in a strange way, it was freeing.

I'm now well on my way to finding a new way of life. I'm setting goals and considering my own well being a lot more now. That is not to say they are the most ambitious goals, but for someone who has lived for anything else but her for so long now, they are a pretty big deal for me. My goals, you ask? I'm starting small, for now. First, I plan on watching one classic film every week. I used to live and breathe for old movies, but I haven't been able to indulge this hobby for some time now. Another goal? To start reading books for pleasure again. The other day, I figured out the last time I read a book for pleasure was when last Harry Potter came out. That is just... sad. So very sad. My last goal is the reason you are seeing me now. I wanted to jump start my food blog. I'm sorry I was gone for so long, but I'll be the first to acknowledge I have not been ready to come back until now. And it is my intention for you to see a lot more of me.

Now, back to la fiesta. I could have gone a lot more traditional for our Cuatro de Mayo feast, but there is one recipe that I have been craving for weeks now, and there seemed like no better time to indulge my craving. The recipe is one that I adapted from a Cooking Light recipe. The first word that comes to mind when I think of this recipe is ugly. That's right. This is one of the ugliest recipes I have ever seen. But it's true what they say: it doesn't matter how it looks. It's all about the taste. And this tastes so yummy. You would never believe that it is a "light" recipe. From first bite to last, it is cheesy deliciousness.

My cooking buddy.

The original recipe called for just under two pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts, and from the very beginning this seemed absurd to me. That is a lot of chicken for one little casserole! Aren't casseroles supposed to stretch your buck by stretching your protein? What happened to this recipe? I use around a pound of chicken, and then I fill out the casserole with rinsed canned beans. Corn would also be a fantastic addition, but I can't say this from experience because every time I make this recipe I am inexplicably out of corn.

We ended our meal with a new recipe that I adapted from one of Nestle's websites. I have never made a Margarita Pie before, but I was excited to try it knowing full well my husband's love of Key Lime Pie. I knew this pie wouldn't exactly be a leap for him. This pie is far lighter than other Margarita Pie recipes I've seen because it does not use sweetened condensed milk at all. Instead, unflavored gelatin and Cool Whip give this pie its texture. The end result was so tasty, I will freely admit my husband and I had two slices. Each.

I hope you say "Ole!" when you taste these recipes, and I'll be back very soon with plenty more posts.



Mexican Chicken Casserole

Ingredients:

1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 chipotle in adobo, minced, with 1/2 teaspoon of the adobo
2 (4.5-ounce) cans chopped green chiles, divided
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup fat-free evaporated milk
2 cups shredded 2% Mexican blend cheese
3 ounces 1/3 fat cream cheese
1 can of black or kidney beans, rinsed
1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce (Don't skimp--get a name brand. I don't know why, but store brand enchilada sauce just always tastes... off... no matter where you get it from.)
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
2 ounces tortilla chips, crushed (about 6 chips)

Instructions:

1. Combine one can of chiles, the chipotle and adobo, and the chicken broth in a large skillet over medium heat.

2. Add the chicken breasts and let simmer for 7-8 minutes per side, or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken, reserve the remaining liquid and chiles, and set aside.


3. Heat the olive oil over medium heat and sautee the onions until softened, 3-5 minutes. Return the reserved chile mixture to the pan along with the other can of chiles and 1/4 cup water and sautee for a few minutes more.


4. Meanwhile, shred or chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces.

5. Add the evaporated milk to the skillet and mix thoroughly, followed by the cream cheese, a cup of the shredded cheese, the beans, and the chicken. Stir until the cheeses melt and all of the ingredients are combined.


6. Add the enchilada sauce and stir until combined.


7. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and spray a 2-quart casserole dish or a 9 x 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Layer 4 corn tortillas on the bottom and top with 2 cups of the filling mixture, followed by 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese. Repeat with 4 more tortillas, 2 more cups of filling, and another 1/4 cup of cheese. For the final layer, start with 4 torillas, the last of the filling, the crushed tortilla chips, and a 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.


8. Bake the casserole at 350˚F for 30 minutes.










You'll see what I mean about this dish being ugly when you serve it, but just wait until you taste it!



Margarita Pie

Ingredients:

1 cup crushed mini pretzels
3 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons water
1 cup + 1 tablespoon Splenda for baking or granulated sugar
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 envelope (7 grams) unflavored gelatin
1-12 ounce can fat-free evaporated milk
2 teaspoons grated lime peel
1/2 cup lime juice (4 to 5 medium limes)
1/4 teaspoon orange extract
1 tablespoon tequila (optional)
2 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed, divided
Coarse sanding sugar, fresh limes slices

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Combine the pretzel crumbs, butter, water, and 1 tablespoon of Splenda and press the mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie dish.

2. Bake the crust for 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown.


3. Meanwhile, combine the water and the gelatin in a saucepan and let sit for 2 minutes. Then whisk in the remaining 1 cup of Splenda and the evaporated milk and heat over medium heat until the gelatin and Splenda dissolve. Pour the mixture into a bowl and cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until cool to the touch.

4. Once the mixture cools, add the lime zest, juice, orange extract, and tequila, if desired, and stir until combined.

5. Fold in 1 cup of the whipped topping and pour the filling into the crust. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until the pie sets.


6. Top with a dollop of the remaining whipped topping to serve.




Oh yeah... about that little kitchen mishap?


This is what happens when you completely forget that the stove was just on and go for those few strands of shredded cheese inches away from the still hot burner.

Lesson learned: just say no to the cheese. Just say no, kids.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Quick Word from Diabeetus Cat...


These past few weeks have been a bit sparse in terms of posts, and believe me when I tell you it has not been a holiday. I was sick for a while, first with a cold and then with the stomach flu. Then, this week I was thrown a curve ball that I was not prepared for in the least.

Monday evening, I went to visit my fiance at the restaurant where he works. Just as he had been for several days, he was feeling tired, had a lack of energy, was having difficulty focusing, and still could not satisfy his thirst no matter how much he drank. While we discussed when would be a good time to see a doctor, his boss was especially concerned and suggested we go to the emergency room that night.

We set off on what was a terrifying fifteen minute drive because the closer we got to the hospital, the further my fiance got from lucidity. It turns out his boss may have saved his life. When the triage nurse tested his blood sugar, it was so high the meter wouldn't read it. A blood test sent to the lab revealed his blood sugar was 878. With that, the ER doctor welcomed him to the world of type two diabetes.

My fiance spent two days in the hospital getting his blood sugar back under control. He took the news much better than I did. He has a family history of diabetes, so while the diagnosis was unexpected, it wasn't too surprising. However, since I do all of the cooking, I couldn't help but feel somehow responsible for this crisis. Also, while the four large Powerades my fiance drank trying to quench his thirst were almost certainly a contributing factor to the frightening blood sugar levels, the snoball I brought him likely sent those levels through the roof. For those of your unfamiliar with snoballs, it's shaved ice drenched in flavored syrup. So it's sugar plus sugar multiplied by sugar to the second power.

He's been back at home for a few days now and is feeling better than he has in a while. He's gotten his energy back, which in turn has lifted his mood and has made him a more enthusiastic person. However, we are still learning, experimenting, and figuring out what works and what doesn't. I cooked for the first time since all of this happened and he lived to tell the tale.

Truth be told, I've been afraid to cook because I feel so much pressure to get it right. Especially after the other night and an incident involving a box of sugar free pudding and me screwing up royally. In an effort to make the pudding more creamy, I used fat free half-and-half. I consulted the label and saw it only had a few grams of sugar and carbs per serving. Perfect! Except that a serving size is two tablespoons. "Honey, you might want to put down that spoon..."

Needless to say, I'm no expert. In fact, no one that I know of in my family has diabetes and I've never really been around anyone with it. I know very little about the intricacies of the disease or how to live with it. But since I'm the cook in this relationship, I'm going to have to learn. Quick.

The hospital signed us up for a diabetes education course next Thursday, which I'm looking forward to. In the meantime, I welcome any advice, tips, thoughts on good diabetes cookbooks, etc. Anything to help me get a handle on this situation.

I still have a few posts on the back burner, and then I'll be posting some different fare. Healthy fare. Diabetic-friendly fare. Wish me luck.