Blooming in Fall with Cauliflower

The fall chill is in the air.  And you know what that means …. It’s soup time.  So far this season I’ve made Sheila’s chicken tortilla soup and butternut squash soup.  Both were yummy as ever, but I’ve started itching for something different.

I received an invite to go hang with some retired Kroger friends. Christina is the ultimate hostess. Her home is warm and inviting.  We pot luck appetizers or sides to her events. She always has yummy entrees, sides and serves delightful wine.  I knew this time would be no different. I immediately thought to bring a yummy soup to complement the chill in the air. I took to the internet and ran across a recipe that wasn’t really for soup, but for cauliflower biscuits to dip into tomato soup. Delish.com led me to this amazing recipe.

Cauliflower Cheddar Biscuits With Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Off to my new Kroger Marketplace across the street to pick up the ingredients to transform one of my favorite vegetables into a biscuit.  For the soup, I opted for Campbells Slow Cooker Tomato and Sweet Basil Bisque.  Of course, you know I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. I doubled the amount of garlic and also added garlic powder.

tomato soup

This recipe also gave me the opportunity to inaugurate my muffin pan from Bundy Bakery. These are industrial baking pans sold retail; a pan baker can’t do without.  The biscuits fell from the pan, and I used ZERO oil as the recipe called for.  The pans are sold at USApan.com. I received the pan on a company visit to Bundy Baking in Urbana, Ohio. They provide all of the pans for our company’s bakeries. The site has a museum that captures Russell T. Bundy’s 40-plus year passion to collect and preserve baking industry history. It truly is a site to see. And if you get a chance to meet Russell, tell him Natalie the Buckeye Mom says “Hi”!

The cauliflower biscuits were a hit. Christina requested the recipe, so this blog is for you. Thank you for inviting us every quarter to keep in touch. As I said tonight, I didn’t love you guys because we worked for the same company. I love you, Jeff, Sheila, Mike and Jan like family. Even though all of you are retired, you have a place in my heart and I’m thankful for your quarterly events. And I’m looking forward to those lamb sliders you told me about tonight.  Cheers!

Cauliflower Biscuit

Cauliflower Cheddar Biscuits with Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

INGREDIENTS

  • Cooking spray, for muffin tin <not needed if you use USApan.com muffin pans>
  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced <I doubled>
  • <I added a few heavy shakes of garlic powder>
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar
  • ½ c. freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ c. buttermilk
  • ¼ c. cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Campbell’s Slow Cooker Tomato Sweet Basil Soup
  • <I garnished soup with some fresh chopped parsley>

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400° and spray a muffin tin with cooking spray. Grate cauliflower on small side of a box grater to form fine crumbs. Place in a clean dishtowel and squeeze out extra moisture.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together grated cauliflower and eggs. Add garlic, cheddar, Parmesan, parsley, baking powder, buttermilk, and cornstarch. Season with red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
  3. Drop a spoonful of cauliflower mixture into each muffin tin and bake until golden, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. Serve warm with the tomato soup.

 

 

 

 

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November 5, 2017 at 8:59 pm Leave a comment

All Thai-ed Up

My sister often teases me and says I’m Blasian. That’s a Black Asian. She does that because I absolutely love Asian food.  You name it: Beef Pho, Sushi, Bulgogi, Galbi, Tom Kha Gai, Pad Thai, Tika Misala, Singapore Noodles, Hoh Fun w/ Beef, Lettuce Wraps and the list goes on.

I love trying to create these delicacies at home. It gives me the chance to embellish the dish to highlight the flavors I like most.  My recent creation came from a wild hair on a weekend where I was home alone. It was the perfect opportunity to create without fear of failure.  No one was there, so if I royal screwed the pooch, I would be the only witness.

So several Google clicks later I found a version of a dish Stephen and I discovered at our local Thai restaurant Sweet Basil in Florence, KY. The dish is a spicy fried Thai rice with basil and beef. I couldn’t find a written recipe on line, but did find a YouTube video showing it prepared. Perfect! This way I get to decide how much of each ingredient to use.

After treating myself to a facial, off to the brand new Marketplace Kroger across the street I went. As I stood at the meat counter, I gave into my feeling of pampering myself and selected almost a full pound of filet mignon for my creation.  Why not, right?

Once at home, I put the Jasmine rice on to cook, sliced up a few veggies and the meat. Several minutes later I was delighted by the savory treat I had prepared.  It tasted EXACTLY like the dish from the restaurant.  The only difference is my bell peppers were cooked super tender; just how I like them. My husband always orders his rice without the bell peppers because they are still pretty crunchy. Yes ….. I know, we cook all of the vitamins out when we cook them soft.  But that’s how we like them.  Salads are for crunch.

The only variation to the recipe I found on YouTube was the added cilantro and lime. These two items are a staple in most Thai dishes. I had to add them. And I’m glad I did.

When my husband came home from his trip, I prepared him a plate of leftovers. He agreed, I hit the nail on the head for flavor. I do admit, I over cooked the rice.  It was a bit mushy. So I added a note to the recipe to cook the rice slightly al dente so that it can finish up during the pan frying.

Here’s the recipe. I hope someone will give it a try and let me know how it works out for you.

Thai Basil Rice with Beef

Ingredients:
1 cup Jasmine Rice
1 egg
1 Medium Onion
1 Yellow Bell Pepper sliced in strings
1 Red Bell Pepper sliced in strings
6 Cloves of Garlic minced
3 Thai Chili Peppers (or Serrano Peppers) diced
1 pound of high quality beef sliced in bite size strips
1 bottle Kroger Thai Style Stir Fry Sauce
½ cup Cilantro Leaves minced (no stems)
1 cup Whole Basil Leaves (no stems)
1 Lime (optional)

Directions:
Cook rice slightly al dente using 2 cups of water (do not over-cook)
Using a few table spoons of cooking oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat, scramble one egg
Add onion and bell peppers and sauté to desired tenderness
Add garlic and chili peppers; stir for about a minute
Add Basil, Cilantro and beef; cook to desired wellness
Add rice and stir in Kroger Thai Style sauce; cook for a few minutes
Remove from heat
Squeeze lime over individual servings

Picture of my ingredients (sans egg and rice):

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Glamour Shot of the finished dish (from Google)

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October 17, 2017 at 6:53 pm 1 comment

Paella Problems

So last weekend I woke up with a wild hair to make Paella. I’ve never done it and was feeling a craving for some seafood.  I knew enough that I needed a paella pan. So off to T.J. Maxx Home I went. And as luck would have it, they had a paella pan for $20.

Next stop, Kroger to get the seafood and other yummy ingredients.  My family isn’t huge on mussels, but I needed some for the broth and visual. They were sold by the pound and the seafood counter had a big bag of them.  When I asked the clerk for six mussels, he told me he couldn’t break the bag.  10 minutes later the store manager arrived and really couldn’t provide a good reason for not breaking the bag to sell me six mussels. Unfortunately I had to pull my “corporate office” card to get him to do it.  It was a coaching moment. I explained to him how our customers are expecting great service when they come to our stores and our associates need to feel empowered to satisfy them using Principle Based judgement.  His role as store management is to set the tone that within reason, they can take care of the customer and the store leadership will provide feedback on whether or not the decision made was a good one.  Hopefully the next customer wanting a handful of mussels will walk away smiling.

Everything was going as planned in the kitchen. The smells and sights were everything I expected. I watched a tutorial online at PaellaPans.com and learned about soccarat which they describe as “the bottom layer of rice yields a golden caramelized crust, called socarrat, you know you’ve reached the pinnacle of paella greatness.” My mission was to get a good layer of socarrat. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful and ended up burning the bottom of the rice and the dish.  Luckily, there was enough salvageable rice to enjoy the meal anyway …. just no socarrat.

Paella pans are thin by design so I’m not surprised I burned the rice.  The bottom of the pan was scorched.  So, I soaked it in ammonia for a few days to loosen the charred layer.  To my surprise, when I started scrubbing, a layer of pan disintegrated exposing metal. Pan ruined.  What’s a woman to do? Go online and purchase a REAL paella pan.  And that I did.  Stay tuned to find out how my next attempt goes. Hopefully I will be able to achieve this masterpiece.

paella

June 23, 2017 at 5:44 pm Leave a comment

Savory Vacation Memories

The other day I realized how long it had been since I posted on my blog. Believe me, there’s been plenty of food  created and consumed between the time I relocated to the present.  I’ve neglected my journaling duties, and for that I’m regretful. I love reading back and reminiscing over the amazingness I’ve created and/or experienced.  So with that, I now resume.

Fast forward from relocation temporary housing to very much settled in our new home in Northern Kentucky.  My most recent foodie experience was on vacation in the eastern Caribbean. We visited Honduras, Belize, Cozumel, and Costa Maya with two other couples near and dear to our heart.  While the food on the ship was acceptable, the cuisine experienced on the islands was ridiculous.

My mother is friends with the curator of the resort at Paya Bay in Honduras. For $85 per person they pick you up at the pier and deliver you to their secluded resort 45 minutes on the other side of the island.  We were greeted with a watermelon cocktail and an appetizer of bean dip with fried plantains. I’ve since found a bean dip that mirrors the flavors we experienced called Authentic Desert Pepper Black Bean Dip (spicy). And I also found a Hispanic grocery to purchase fried plantains.

download

To our surprise, a quick storm blew through which cooled the hot air off nicely.

IMG_0035

Next we were escorted to our “room for the day” that we could use to shower, change, or relax.  And then came the amazing lunch. We had a choice of chicken, shrimp or lobster for a small upcharge. I chose the lobster and was pleasantly surprised with the largest tail I’ve ever had.  The fresh vegetables were scrumptious and the baked potato cooked to perfection.  Dessert was cheese cake or key lime pie. Half the party ordered one and the other half ordered the other so we all got to sample the deliciousness. I was so high on the lobster, I neglected to take a picture.  Forgive me.

After lunch, half of our party received massages on the yoga pavilion nestled in the jungle above the resort with a stunning ocean view between the trees.  The other half of our party enjoyed cocktails on the “naturalist” beach on the shore below the resort. A few of us relaxed and others enjoyed the blue water and waves.  We all kept our clothes on, but enjoyed the vain man who felt the need to stand up and slowly reapply his suntan lotion. Thankfully, his body wasn’t hard on the eyes!

In Belize we went on a rum tasting and cultural show excursion.  While no food was consumed, the different varieties of rum was a treat.

Our next edible experience was in Costa Maya  My husband and I took the day without the other couples to find a resort my mother recommended called National Beach Club a short cab ride from the pier.  My husband ordered the chicken and I ordered …. wait for it … lobster.  I know.  I love the the stuff and can’t help myself.  OMG. Yes again, another huge tail. The sides were amazing. My husband’s chicken came with a perfectly cooked chorizo on top.  We were in Caribbean heaven.

After lunch, my husband got a massage on the beach under the palm trees. I sun bathed in a hammock INSIDE the gentle waves of the ocean.  My torso was covered in the clear blue warm water, and my legs, arms, and face got golden brown in the sun.  If I could bottle that moment, I could make a million.

In Costa Maya we did a tequila tasting, museum, and cultural show. The fed us amazing tacos. But the best part was learning about tequila at a whole new level. AND discovering a mango spicy margarita.  OMG, who knew that adding liquid Tajin and Tajin seasoning to the rim would be so scrumptious. I have since duplicated this recipe several times since we’ve been home. A new favorite for sure. The sweet mango and spicy seasoning is to die for.

tajin

My recreation: IMG_0139

Our last foodie experience to remember was stateside. We disembarked around 9am and our plane didn’t leave until 7pm.  A couple we met invited us to hang with us at their hotel near the airport. A short Uber ride later landed us at the EB Hotel Miami. Stunning facility. Their executive room was top notch with rain showers, sleep number king size bed, and a full seating area.  Rates were reasonable too.  I will definitely be staying there the next time we are in Miami.  The hotel restaurant is called Miranda. My husband had a club sandwich, and I had salmon with an Asian sauce. Delightful!

IMG_0131

Our vacation was so amazing, the week after I wore white every day, played Caribbean music, and cooked island food. I didn’t want the glow to wear off. Here’s a meal I cooked the weekend after we got home. Lobster tails … did you expect anything else?

IMG_0138

 

 

September 7, 2016 at 8:41 pm Leave a comment

Sweet Torture

Well I’m finally settled in my temporary housing in Cincinnati, Ohio. The apartment is awesome. It’s a complex snuggled between the Red’s and the Bengal’s stadiums in the heart of downtown. There’s a plethora of retail establishments within walking distance. The weekend nights turn out loads of people enjoying the venues. We’ve had several days of nice weather since I arrived last week. These days afford me the opportunity to open the windows and patio doors to let fresh air in.

Oh but the Sweet Torture of it. Around 5pm the scrumptious aroma of Ruth’s Chris steak house gently glides in my windows. If you’ve never eaten at a Ruth’s Chris restaurant, I highly recommend you treat yourself on your very next special occasion. I’m a frugal foodie and get heartburn spending top dollar on a prime steak that I can prepare just as good on my charcoal grill. But, there’s something special about the Ruth Chris experience. I’ve been afforded several opportunities to indulge. Not only are the steaks mouth-watering and extra tender, but the shrimp cocktails are like eating shrimp steaks; so thick and firm while flavorful. Ruth Chris

So since I can’t indulge myself on the company dime, I settled for a ribeye from another eatery around the corner. The meat was decent. The leftovers were better. I sliced them up, pan sautéed them in a small pad of butter and Kroger Brand Grill Time seasoning. I use this seasoning on more than just beef. I’ve grilled onions, garlic, shrimp and olive oil with it. Zucchini and onions grilled with it is delicious too. And don’t limit yourself to the grill; stove top cooking in the dead of winter gets a spectacular boost with Grill Time! Spring is just around the corner, I’m sure this 3.4oz jar I bought for my temporary living apartment won’t last long.

Grill Time

March 15, 2014 at 8:55 pm Leave a comment

Alone; Time to Indulge Me

It’s not often I get an entire Saturday to myself. Well the stars aligned this weekend. Husband took a group of boys to Orlando, FL to the Nike SPARQ Combine and Daughter went to Atlanta for a Volleyball Tournament. I stayed behind to start getting myself ready for the big move up North.

The morning started with deep cleaning the kitchen, three loads of laundry (folded while watching the movie Hitch), an afternoon trip to the mall to get my hair cut (and scoop a few “me” purchases), and then an evening of culling my closet.

In between all that activity a girl’s gotta eat. So I dug out a bag of shrimp from the freezer, chopped up some cilantro and fresh onion, and added them to Campbell’s Thai Tomato Coconut Soup. A bit of fresh lime squeezed on top at serving made for a delicious afternoon treat.

Thai Tomato SoupMy family loves my food, but they don’t like to adventure too far out of familiar flavors. They’ll eat it, but don’t LOVE it like I do. Thai flavors are some of my favorites. I love having a shortcut with the prepared bisque Campbell’s offered. I whipped this treat up in less than 30 minutes (most time spent was defrosting/peeling shrimp and chopping veggies). If I would have made the soup from scratch I would have invested at least a hour an a half. Nothing wrong with short cuts if the end product is delightful.

Dinner was not so adventurous. but noteworthy if you’re a wing fan. Kentucky fried chicken has fried hot wings on their menu. Order them and ask for them to be dunked in their honey BBQ sauce. A side of potato wedges will round out the spicy treat. 

Overall great day. Hubby made it home safe and sound; with a speeding ticket in hand. Gotta love it! Daughter will be home tomorrow. What will I prepare for Sunday dinner?

February 8, 2014 at 11:47 pm Leave a comment

Guest Blogger: Daughter Brooklynn Collier

Hi, I’m Brooklynn, Sugar-Free Foodie’s daughter. I tend to be quite picky with the food and flavors I eat. So when my mom asked me to try her Key Lime Pie, I was reluctant. Never being a fan of the tart flavor, I suspected hers would be like every other I’d tried. But, after tasting it, I was quite shocked with my appreciation for the pie. I was pleasantly pleased by tolerable tartness balanced by surprising sweetness. Hers seemed to be the only Key Lime Pie I’ve tried that was more sweet than tart.

A few weeks later I was craving to have the taste in my mouth again. I asked my mom if she could make me one and she told me she wouldn’t make it, but would gladly talk me through it while I prepared the pie. I have now learned how to fully make it myself. I’ll even surprise her every once in a while and make her one out of the blue. I enjoy doing little things like making her an occasional pie. and it helps that she can only eat small portions, making it last longer for the rest of us.
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Here’s her recipe:

KEY LIME PIE – SUGAR FREE
Ingredients:
Pre-made Keebler deep graham cracker pie crust

Filling:
8 oz cream cheese (room temp for 2 hours)
7 TBSP Splenda
¼ tsp Stevia plus
1/8 tsp Stevia
½ Cup Key Lime juice
¼ tsp lime zest
1 packet unflavored Gelatin
1 Cup Heavy Cream

1. Heat ½ cup lime juice and lemon zest for 2 minutes in microwave
2. Wisk in packet of gelatin until fully dissolved. Set aside until no longer hot to touch (5-10 minutes)
3. Chill bowl and beaters, then beat cream, add 1/8 tsp Stevia, into stiff peaks. Put in refrigerator until called for in recipe.
4. Beat cream cheese with mixer until smooth
5. Add 7 TBSP Splenda and ¼ tsp Stevia
6. Add lime juice mixture to cheese and beat cheese mixture until smooth, and a pudding like texture. (if more thickening is needed put bowl of mixture into an ice bath)

[If you desire a less tart more sweet pie, add additional Splenda at this point]

7. Stir in Whipped Cream mixture until consistent texture.
8. Scrape filling into pie crust
9. Chill in refrigerator 3-4 Hours (Pie will keep at least 3 days in refrigerator)
10. Garnish with additional Whipped cream or lemon zest if desired.
11. Serve and Enjoy!

August 25, 2013 at 8:27 pm Leave a comment

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Natalie


I'm Natalie and so glad you stopped in.

January 29, 2008 changed my life forever. Before that day I weighed a whopping 292 lbs. Today I'm at a very slender 145 lbs. (in a size 6 jean!). The gastric bypass I received that day gave me a new lease on life. With that new lease came a commitment to a new eating lifestyle; moderation and plenty of protein. One of the neat side effects is my very low tolerance for sugar.

I've always loved food and knew I would be challenged to find satisfaction without the sugar. Over the past three years I've created some masterpieces of both savory and sugar free foods. Guests to our home are always asking for my recipes.

On this blog I plan to share many recipes I've found and in many cases modified. Some are high-jacked others are creations or family recipes. I will do my level best to give credit to the originators of any high-jacked recipes.

All recipes are sugar free. None are fat free! I have a saying, "If you can't have sugar, bring on the butter!"

I will also share awesome restaurant discoveries as I find them. Many times I attempt to recreate them at home.

So feel free to high-jack recipes from my blog. Recreate the magic in your home, and enjoy the food with family and friends. Cherish the moments with them because tomorrow is not promised.

Blessings,
Natalie

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