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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Grilled chicken, acorn squash and apples!!!!

Nothing beats the grill. Hands down when you grill a food it always tastes better! The other night I was grilling chicken and decided to throw my steamed acorn squash on at the end. Technically they weren't completely cooked on the grill,they were steamed first, but my husband ate the squash because it had grill marks on it! I was so proud of my idea that I decided to try an apple too. It was so good I had to go back out to the grill and do two more apples :). Now the kids keep asking for more grilled apples, please!

I'm sure I'm not the first person to ever grill an apple, but I thought I'd share the idea anyway!

Once during a power outage after a hurricane I grilled an apple pie! What's the craziest thing you've ever grilled?

Gluten free tacos - Mockos

I thought when I gave up wheat and sugar I would have to give up fun foods like tacos and burritos too, but nooooooo! I substitute the tortilla with a large lettuce leaf and don't even miss it! Last night I made our 'mock-tacos'(or mockos) for the second time this month and they were gobbled up quicker than you can hang a piƱata. I gave the smaller leaves to my 5 year old with a small bowl of ground beef and told her to use them like a spoon. She loved it! I even watched my non lettuce loving teenagers eating mocko after mocko. That makes me very happy :)

2 lbs ground beef
1/4 tsp. each: garlic salt, chili powder, onion powder, paprika, cumin
1/4 cup water

Large and firm romain leaf lettuce
Shredded Cheese
Chopped avocado
Sour cream
Refried beans

Brown your ground beef, drain off fat. Add seasonings and water (never need to buy that unhealthy seasoning packet ever again). Assemble you mocko on a lettuce leaf, fill with your favorite toppings and enjoy!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Bacon wrapped green beans....yes, please!!!

While on the 21 day sugar and wheat detox we were allowed bacon, so to keep my husband interested I tried to use bacon in everything! One night I wrapped green bean bundles in bacon and baked them in the oven. Duh, it was wonderful, why didn't I ever think of it before? My husband even took some leftovers in his lunch the next day. When was the last time he took green beans in his lunch.....uh never!!!!!


Green beans

Take a handful if green beans and wrap with a slice of bacon. It works best if you wrap in a spiral from top to bottom of the bunch. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, turning once. Serve warm.

I served them with grilled pork tenderloin, but think they would be an excellent side dish to fish, chicken, or beef.

Homemade yogurt: update and tips

We have made about 7-8 batches of yogurt now and had only one to throw out. I was trying the crock pot method and accidentally put it on high instead of warm and left the house for several hours. By the time I returned it was burnt, ewe!!!! But, besides that, it has turned out perfectly every time and we LOVE it!

Here is the original recipe:

I have tried keeping it warm several ways, like in the microwave (off) with just the light on, in the crockpot on low for 10 minutes and then off for an hour, in mason jars in the oven (off). My favorite and easiest way has been to heat the milk to 190-200 degrees, cool it to 115, pour it all into the crockpot dish, mix in the starter, and set it in the oven with my dehydrator motor. It turns itself off and on and keeps the oven the perfect temp. I make the yogurt at bedtime, stick it in with the dehydrator motor and wake up to perfect yogurt. Can't get any easier than that!

Breakfast: egg cups

We are trying to end our dependency on cereal for breakfast. The problem with eliminating cereal (even the low sugar variety) is that it is quick, cheap, and the kids can make it themselves. We eat a lot of yogurt with fruit around here, even make it homemade, but I found us lacking in variety. We started making these egg cups and I think they are a winner, after 3 weeks we are still going strong. I make 2 pans at a time, store them in twos into sandwich bags and taught the kids to warm them up quicker than they can add honey to plain Cheerios. My husband even gets them in his lunchbox giving him a serving of protein as he begins his day at the office. The combinations are endless, just think of your favorite omelette. We prefer egg and cheese, sausage n egg, broccoli- egg-cheese and ham-Swiss-egg. I recommend using silicone cupcake liners or a really good nonstick pan so you don't have a big scrubby clean up afterwards.

Ingredients (for 12 egg cups):
8-10 eggs
1/4 cup half n half or milk of your choice
Bacon, sausage, cut veggies
Cheese to top

If using bacon, place one half slice into the bottom and sides of each tin. Place in a 375 degree oven while you prepare the eggs.

Crack and scramble eggs in mixing bowl. Add milk, stir. Using a soup ladle, fill muffin tins 3/4 full.

(If you are making them with bacon, remove the partially cooked bacon slices from the oven and pour the egg mixture right on top of the bacon.)

Sprinkle in any cut veggies you like and bake for 15-20 minutes. The tops should be shiny, but firm.

Remove from oven and top with cheese. Serve warm, store leftovers in sandwich bags in the fridge.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Banana pancakes- flour less and sugar free!

Okay here is one of my favorite recipes we've discovered during our 21 day sugar detox. Who knew something so simple could be so amazing???? The ratio is 1 banana to 2 eggs, so multiply according to your crew. I make our's right in the blender and pour it straight into the skillet. They are great plain, with yogurt, or filled with berries. Sometimes I drizzle chocolate syrup on them for kids. The possibilities are endless.


1 banana
2 eggs
1 Tbsp milk or half and half
Dash of cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla

Blend well and make like regular pancakes in a buttered skillet. Serve warm. Makes about 4-6 medium sized thin pancakes.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Almond butter chocolate cups

I finally did it....I found a chocolate you can have while dieting and it doesn't stop your weight loss! I knew I could do it! I eat 2 of these a day and I have lost weight everyday! They have saved me (and my husband has grown to love them too) while on our 21 day sugar and wheat detox. We are on day 10 and knowing I have this yummy treat in the fridge ready to egg me on to keep up the good work helps me with cravings. I love chocolate and I really love these chocolate almond cups!


1 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup pure cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli 100% unsweetened natural cocoa)
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp half and half
1/3 cup pure Almond butter
Dash of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
Whole Almonds (I put 5 in each cup)

Melt the coconut oil, butter and Almond butter together until combined and smooth. Mix in cocoa, honey, salt, vanilla and half and half. Put whole almonds into prepared cups. ( I used silicone muffin cups in a muffin tin and they pop out great). Pour chocolate into cups and refrigerate at least 1 hour. When set, pop out of molds and store in airtight container in the fridge. They do melt in your mouth and your hand, so don't plan on taking them to a 4th of July picnic this summer ;)

Sugar and gluten free banana cheesecake

Our family is on a 21 day sugar and wheat detox so with today being Valentines Day I had to create something special for my loves. The result was fun and yummy, perfect for showing my husband and kids how much I love them.

2 packages softened cream cheese
2 eggs
2 Tbsp half and half
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp honey
2 bananas
Dash salt

Mix everything in a blender, pour into molds or muffin tin and bake for 25 minutes or until firm in the center. Remove from oven, cool for a few minutes and remove from molds. Chill in fridge 2 hours and serve. These are not overly sweet and perfect if you have eliminated sugar from your diet. If you haven't you may need to add more honey. Enjoy!

(I drizzled chocolate sauce on the kids to make it a bit more sweet and fun

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Homemade mozzarella cheese

Well yogurt was not so difficult and we LOVE it! I ate a bite of plain Dannon Greek yogurt the other day and almost had to spit it out! Wow! I couldn't believe what a difference homemade yogurt could make. I guess there is no going back now :)

So I decided my next challenge is cheese. I chose to start with mozzarella since it can be completed in an hour and is ready to eat. I did quite a bit of research (which I recommend) and then I dove right in. The first question I had was what are the ingredients?

One gallon of whole milk
1/4 rennent tablet
1 tsp. citric acid
1-2 tsp. Cheese salt

My next questions was: what in the world is rennent and cheese salt?

-Cheese salt is an easy one, it is any salt that is NOT iodized (i.e. organic, sea salt).

-rennent is gross! It is curdled milk from the stomach of an unweaned calf, containing rennin and used in curdling milk for cheese. Told you it's gross! But the tablet is just a pill you buy at a brew/cheese supply store (they also carry citric acid). Thankfully commercially sold rennent is made from vegetable sources.

My husband stopped and picked up my supplies for me and I made cheese while he watched the Super Bowl. We had fresh mozzarella by half time, yay! 

So here's what you do:

1. pour one gallon of milk into a large pot on the stove and sprinkle 1tsp. citric acid over the milk, stir well.

2. heat the milk to 90 degrees using a candy or kitchen thermometer, pay attention it does not take long.

3. as the milk is heating, dissolve the 1/4 rennent tablet into a few Tbsp. of water. When the milk is at 90 degrees, turn off stove, remove thermometer and pour the rennent water over the milk a few teaspoons at a time, making sure it is mixed all the way through.

4. Let the milk sit for 10 minutes, do not stir it. It becomes very thick and gelatin like.

5.This is the part that took me the most time. First cut the milk into large pieces ( pretend your slicing jello into cubes). Then using a slotted spoon separate the curdled milk from the whey ( white- yellowish liquid). I promise it doesn't stink like you may imagine. It just smells like warm milk!

6. Then heat it in the microwave for 30-45 seconds at a time squeezing more liquid out and pressing the milk solids together. When most of your liquid is removed stir in your cheese salt.


7. I removed it from the bowl at this point and started kneading it on a cutting board. Mine started to look like string cheese so I heated it again to form it into a log.

8. Once you get your cheese the way you want it submerge it in ice water for a few minutes to harden the loaf. I dried it for about 30 minutes on a rack, wrapped it in plastic wrap and put it into the fridge to harden and get cold overnight. This step was optional, because it is ready to eat right after it is formed. Just like all cheeses, you should store it in the fridge.

One gallon of milk yielded 1.1 lbs. of fresh mozzarella. I can't wait until summer when I can make bruschetta with tomatoes from the garden!

After my mozzarella success I researched how to make cottage cheese, cream cheese and hard cheeses....they seem like too much work for a mama of 7, but never say never, right?????


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Chicken 'Parmesan' with zucchini noodles

Well we are on day 2 of a sugar and wheat detox and I must say that I enjoy eating a Paleo type diet, I enjoy cooking from scratch, but I don't know how in the world I am going to be able to keep it up for 19 more days! Tonight's dinner was a ton of work, but very good so I thought I'd share (and remember I am new at this type of eating :)

First, I made homemade mozzarella (did that yesterday) this step is not necessary, but I wanted the challenge and I did it! It tastes amazing and will be something I do for special occasions, but probably not for everyday eating.

Tonight I put a jar of (sugar free) spaghetti sauce, one can organic stewed tomatoes, and one small can of tomato paste into a baking pan. I placed it on a burner on low and kept simmering it as I prepared the rest of the meal.

Next, I used a vegetable peeler and turned 4 zucchini into a huge pile of noodle like strips. I stirred them into the sauce and continued to simmer on low.

For the chicken, I took 3 breasts and cut them into tenderloins, pounded them gently, and fried them in extra virgin olive oil. I sprinkled garlic and onion powder on them and browned each side. Then, I set them on top of the zucchini noodles and sauce, topped it with slices of mozzarella and then browned it at a 375 oven for 30 minutes.

The result I thought was very good. My husband who is not a fan of zucchini even ate the 'noodles'. I will definitely make this again, but will probably add parmesan cheese as I fry the chicken, make more zucchini noodles and add sliced onions as well.

I loved the freshness of the mozzarella and even though I said I probably wouldn't make it from scratch again, I have a feeling I will!

That recipe will be stay tuned.........

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Upcycle Aldi food boxes into FREE storage bins!!!!

I was looking for pretty storage bins at IKEA, Target, etc. but i couldn't find what I liked for under $7 a bin. One day I was shopping for groceries and thought those boxes are just the perfect size. So, I decided to upcycle some boxes from Aldi. I don't know about you, but FREE is my favorite price (one I just can't refuse ;)

First I hot glued designs onto the box.

Second I spray painted them burgundy.

Third I lightly sprayed on a gold top coat.

Voila! When the kids break them or rip them I can do it again!