Uncle Buddy’s Piccata

My Uncle Buddy (Wayne) makes the absolute best Chicken Piccata. It truly is restaurant quality. My favorite Piccata from a restaurant is Salmon Piccata from Maggiano’s. Living in Albany, Georgia doesn’t afford me the luxury of popping over to Maggiano’s whenever I’m needing a fix. And Uncle Buddy was living in Florida and is now in Chicago, so he’s not an option either. I’ve tried several online recipes and none ever hit the mark.

So during my last trip to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, Mom and Uncle Buddy were over at my sister’s visiting from out of town and I asked Buddy to make Piccata so I could get a fix before I went home the next morning. He indulged me. I watched closely as he whipped through the recipe he uses from Food.com. As I watched intently I realized he did a few things the recipe didn’t call for. He poured the caper juice into the lemon juice and then he lightly diced the capers. I suspect this gives the Piccata an extra kick of flavor before you actually bite into a caper. The other important part is keeping the “yum-yum” from the chicken pan. Brooklynn and I call the browned flour crust left at the bottom of the pan when browning meat “yum-yum”.

Brooklynn and I went home after our Cincy trip and attempted Piccata the very next weekend. And what do you know, it turned out exactly like Uncle Buddy’s. I’m proud and excited to share the recipe here for my family, friends, and very few internet followers. It’s quick easy, not a ton of prep work, and absolutely delicious. We serve it over Basmati rice pilaf sauteed in butter before cooking. By the way, the ONLY white rice I cook in my house is Basmati. If you still use regular white rice you are missing out on the best tasting starch God created.

Here’s the Chicken Piccata recipe as posted on the internet: Frugal Gourmet’s Chicken Piccata

Remember to use the juice from the caper jar, lightly dice the capers, and use the “yum-yum” in the bottom of your chicken pan.

Thank you Uncle Buddy and Enjoy.


Frugal Gourmet’s Chicken Piccata

1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons dry sherry
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon capers, chopped
2 tablespoons chicken stock (optional)

Saute onions, garlic and scallions in olive oil until tender. Remove from pan and set aside.
Remove skins and bones from chicken and pound flat. Mix flour, salt and pepper and place in a flat bowl. Dip chicken pieces into flour and lightly brown them in butter, 2-3 minutes per side.
Add sauteed onions and garlic. Over high heat, add sherry, lemon juice and capers. This should thicken to make a nice gravy for the chicken. If gravy becomes too thick, add some chicken stock.


August 25, 2013 at 7:37 pm Leave a comment

Pleasing Your Spouse

Anyone that has hung out with me and my husband knows one of our core beliefs (outside of God) is meeting each others needs. Early in our marriage we read Dr. Harley’s principles of His Needs Her Needs at marriagebuilders.com . The concepts basically say that couples who strive to meet each others needs affair-proof their marriage. They key in all this is understanding what the other needs. My husband knows I love being pampered and surprised. This week he surprised me with roses and a drawn hot bath with rose petals after a long day at work.

bath surprise









So my surprise to him this week… Making his favorite corn salsa. I’ve posted this recipe before. He absolutely loves this stuff and can eat a double batch in less than a week. I wish you could have been there when he came home after a day at the church and football tossing with our son to see me in the kitchen dicing all of the fresh veggies that make up the scrumptious concoction. He literally dropped his drink when he saw the red and orange peppers, jalapeño peppers, cilantro, and basil on the counter. These simple veggies, a bottle and a half of Kroger Zesty Italian Dressing, lime juice, canned corn and black beans make the most amazing healthy snack food. It’s an easy recipe, just time consuming to get the veggies prepared.

I delight in making him happy. Seeing the smile on his face makes my heart leap with joy. Find your spouse’s favorite food and whip it up for him or her as a surprise this week. It’ll do your heart and marriage some good.


January 6, 2013 at 5:37 pm Leave a comment

Summer Goodness in December

My baby boy had six wisdom teeth removed on Wednesday. He’s graduated from strictly ice-cream and mashed potatoes to soft fish. So off to the store to see what the fish monger had fresh. Tilapia on sale; $5.99/lb never frozen.

I swung by produce picked up a mango, two limes, three Serrano peppers, and a bunch of cilantro. At home, I mixed all the diced fresh produce with the squeezed lime juice and a can of Kroger pineapple tidbits with half the juice in the can.

For the tilapia a simple seasoning of garlic powder, Cajun seasoning, and a premixed seasoning by Urban Accents called Fisherman’s Wharf which contains salt, black pepper, parsley, garlic, white onion, lemon peel, green peppercorns, and green onion. Threw the fillets on a sprayed broiling pan and broiled on high (top shelf) until nicely browned and tender.

The tender white fish is served topped with the mango pineapple salsa. Of course since baby boy needs soft sides, I made homemade Yukon gold mashed potatoes with the skins on. Boiled in onion, drained and whipped on high speed with a stick of butter and sautéed minced garlic. He loaded his potatoes with sour cream and finely shredded cheese. Dinner was a hit.

Who says you can’t have summer freshness when it’s cold out?


December 22, 2012 at 11:30 pm Leave a comment

Lamb, Meat of Champions

I had a strong craving for lamb the other day. Unfortunately, I’m the only one in the house who eats lamb. I like leg of lamb and chops on the grill. My mom can make a leg of lamb to die for; her mustard and herb rub compliments the fragrant meat perfectly.

Knowing my family was not going to indulge with me, I opted for chops. Simple sea salt and ground pepper on the charcoal grill would have been fine for me. But, I ventured on the internet to see if I could find a recipe that might entice at least my husband into joining me in the treat. I found two recipes to try; one was a Gorgonzola Crusted Lamb Chop and the other was a Bobby Flay Grilled Lamb Chops with Mustard BBQ Sauce. Both were delicious to me. Hubby tolerated it, and the kids were furious I made them each eat one.

I guess the bottom line is lamb, like other game meats, are an acquired taste. Looking back I probably should have included it in their regular diets when they were growing up. Take note new and yet to be parents, especially if you have a broad palate.


December 20, 2012 at 9:50 am Leave a comment

Been so long!

I got a notification today for a comment and realized it has been over a year since I have posted to my foodie blog. Sad part is, I’ve been making some amazing food. I’ve mastered a sugar free key lime pie and recently made Mongolian Beef better than a restaurant.

I guess part of the reason I’ve been so negligent is the amount of time I spend on the computer at work. The last thing I want to do when I get home is pull out the lap top. Well, I think I may have found a solution. This WordPress app may be my ticket to easy recipe and picture posting. Lets give it a shot. May not be able to upload nice PDF files with the recipes. But at least they’ll be posted.

Not much cooking will go on this week. Heading to GA Tech game on Saturday early morning. Maybe I’ll squeeze out some goodies on Sunday. Fingers crossed.

October 18, 2012 at 10:50 pm Leave a comment

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

This foodie has been extremely busy this holiday season. It started with Thanksgiving. My mother-in-law joined us and we had an easy going Thanksgiving dinner. We had a Spiral Ham, my famous “Fried Corn,” Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans, and a family favorite Macaroni & Cheese (Regular and Spicy). My mom sent a homemade Monkey Bread in the mail and we picked up a Red Velvet Cheesecake from Sam’s Club. Of course the sugar-free foodie could only have one bite. But it was a delicious bite!

The “Fried Corn” recipe is a hijack from my brother-in-law Jamison. The “fried” really is just sautéed corn in bacon grease.  The recipe is pretty simple. Keep in mind it is NOT fat-free! But it is always a hit. 

The very next weekend we hosted a Holiday Brunch for my managers. I asked each guest to bring their favorite breakfast sweet since I don’t do the sugar thing. My son was thrilled that several guests brought Cinnabon. We can’t make a trip to the mall without him getting one. I think he ate three that afternoon.

I supplemented the breakfast sweets with Breakfast Bites, Honey Butter Biscuits with Ham, Shrimp Cocktail with my special Cocktail Sauce, Potatoes with Cheese, Onion, and Bacon (see comments regarding the potatoes below).

The Sausage Breakfast Bites are an idea I got from a fellow bypass patient’s website I discovered early in my weight loss journey. The World According to Egg Face site has tons of yummy foods that are high in protein. The bites I made used Jimmy Dean Maple Sausage, and Onion.  Check out her site for lots of variations of these tasty breakfast treats. They are great to have on the go when the morning is short on time.

The Cocktail Sauce I make is also a hijack from a high-end restaurant in Northern Kentucky. The Cocktail Sauce has Bay Shrimps in it, so when all of the “big” shrimps are gone, everyone chows down on the remaining sauce.  The sauce is heavy with fresh Horseradish, Cilantro, Onion, and fresh Lemon Juice.  Sure to make your next Shrimp Cocktail a hit!

My only casualty of the brunch was the fact that I forgot to put out the Potatoes.  Hubby helped me in the kitchen the night before.  He was in charge of the Potatoes and put them in the garage refridgerator. As I set the buffet and put out all the dishes I prepared, I completely forgot the Potatoes in the garage.  But trust they did not go to waste. Hubby, the kids, and I destroyed them that night with steaks on the grill!

To quench my guests’ thirst I served fresh coffee using my Keurig single serve coffee maker and Mimosa’s with a melon ball of Raspberry or Mango Sorbet. We served these refreshing drinks at both this and last year’s holiday brunches and got a tremendous response.

After the holiday brunch my schedule was consumed with work and squeezing in Christmas shopping.  Shopping was for both my family and the 30 children my job adopts during the holidays.  In addition to the Christmas hustle, Hubby’s birthday falls a few days after Thanksgiving and mine is in the month of December.  Layer on decorating the house; we were spent!

By the time Christmas arrived I was already exhausted. Enter the family! Here’s what my humble home contained during the holidays: My mom (and her dog), Hubby’s mom, my Sister (and her dog), her fiance’, their three kids, and their niece.  Add that to our two kids and our dog; we had a house full!  There was LOTS of cooking going on. 

Christmas Eve Dinner almost mirrored Thanksgiving.  The only difference was my mom was in town, so the Monkey Bread was eaten hours after baking. Christmas night we used the leftover sides to frame a beautiful standing Rib Roast. My mom put her foot in the seasoning and stuffed it full of garlic.

Over the last few days one by one my guests have headed home. This morning the last guest left. While I’ll miss them all terribly, it is nice to have a quiet house. My sister helped de-Christmas the house, so it feels like our normal home again. 

You’ve probably noticed there are no pictures of food on this blog entry. That’s because I was so frustrated with my camera’s subpar quality. I asked for a camera for Christmas and got a Nikon S4000. It’s an amazing camera and takes pictures like nobody’s business. I can’t wait to get those professional looking photos of my yummy goodness creations. So stay tuned. 

I hope you all enjoyed your Holiday and have a safe New Year.  I’m looking forward to attending watchnight service at our new church home.

Many Blessings, Natalie

December 29, 2010 at 9:27 pm Leave a comment

Cool Outside Warm in the Kitchen

Wow, it’s been an amazing week.  I had to travel to Northern Kentucky for a meeting on of all days, my 14th. wedding anniversary.  The good thing is, I was able to have dinner with my mom.  She served an amazing dinner: Roast Beef, Sweet Carrots, Green Beans, and New Potatoes with gravy.  The salad was her signature dish and my favorite – homemade Caesar Salad. She makes the most amazing Caesar Salad Dressing full of anchovies and garlic. It reminds me of the Caesar you can get at restaurant we used to frequent in Atlanta called Houston’s.  Be careful with this one. If you plan on kissing after the meal, make sure your partner has some too! Mints won’t cover up the delicious garlic.

My mom sent me home with a mason jar full of dressing and I was able to recreate the garlic explosion at home on Friday night.  The picture is my version with some shrimp sauteed in garlic and a dash of olive oil and Mediterranean sea salt.

Camille’s Caesar Salad

3  Juice of fresh Key Limes
6  Garlic Cloves
¼  Cup Olive Oil
1  Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese
1  Tablespoon Worcester Sauce
5  Anchovies
5  Capers
½ Teaspoon Cracked Pepper

Blend all ingredients in food processor.  Add oil if you desire a thinner consistency.
Dress Romaine Salad with dressing and croutons if desired. Sprinkle with more fresh Parmesan and cracked pepper on top to taste.

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Since I was traveling for my anniversary, Hubby and I celebrated this weekend.  Well, since we’ve moved to a very small Southwest Georgia town, our restaurant selection is limited.  In lieu of driving quite a distance or settling on the local fare, we decided to pull up our favorite recipes from our favorite restaurant and make them at home for each other.  I chose PF Chang’s Garlic Noodles and he chose my favorite PF Chang’s Orange Peel Beef. Both are spicy which kept us warm as the temperature outside has fallen dramatically.  Our prep time together was fun. We listened to music and enjoyed each other.

My cell phone takes horrible pictures, so I pulled these off of the internet so you could get an idea of what the finished product is supposed to look like.  P.S. Can you guess what I’m hoping to get for Christmas? A NEW CAMERA – hint hint hubby!

PF Chang`s Garlic Noodles CDKitchen http://www.cdkitchen.com

9 teaspoons minced garlic
9 teaspoons sugar
6 teaspoons white vinegar
4 1/2 teaspoons red chili flakes
6 teaspoons canola oil
3 pounds fresh Chinese noodle or vermicelli
1 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
12 ounces Cantonese stir fry sauce (see recipe below)
3 Japanese cucumber or English cucumber
6 teaspoons chopped cilantro

***Cantonese Stir Fry Sauce***
2 1/4 cups water
3 teaspoons chicken base powder (no MSG)
3 teaspoons sugar
6 teaspoons shaohsing wine or sherry
3 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons cornstarch

Cook pasta. Rinse and cool down. Set aside. Toss in red chili flakes and cilantro.
Wash cucumber. Slice diagonally into 1/4″ thick slices. Slice into strips. Set aside.
Heat wok thoroughly, add oil, then minced garlic. Stir fry briefly.
Add sugar and vinegar.
Add noodle to wok, stirring and tossing to mix until noodle is heated through.
Place on plates and surround with cucumber strips.

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P. F. Chang’s China Bistro Orange Peel Chicken

1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp minced garlic
4 green onions, sliced
1 cup tomato sauce
½ cup water
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp chili garlic sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
½ cup vegetable oil
4 chicken breast fillets or beef
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
peel from ¼ orange, julienne (into 1/8″ thick strips)

Prepare sauce by heating 1 tbsp of oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add minced garlic and sliced green onions. Add tomato sauce and water quickly before the garlic burns. Add sugar, chili garlic sauce and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Simmer 5 to 6 minutes or until sauce thickens, then turn off the heat.

Prepare the chicken by heating ½ cup oil in a wok over medium heat.

Slice chicken breast fillets into bite-size pieces. Combine beaten egg with milk in a medium bowl. Pour the flour into another medium bowl. Coat chicken pieces by dropping them into the flour a few at a time, then intoduce the egg/milk mixture and back into the flour. Arrange coated chicken on a plate until all chicken is coated. When oil in the wok is hot, add about half of the chicken to the oil and cook for a couple minutes or until brown on one side, then flip the chicken over. When chicken is golden brown, remove the pieces to a rack or paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining chicken. When all of the chicken is cooked rinse the oil out of the wok with water and place it back on the stove to heat up.

When wok is hot again add julienne orange peel and chicken. Heat for 20 to 30 seconds or so, stirring gently. Add sauce to the pan and cook for about 2 minutes. Stir dish a couple times but do it gently so you don’t knock the coating off the chicken. Cook until the sauce thickens then serve up the dish with white or brown rice on the side.

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For dessert, he made a special request for my sugar free Sweet Potato Cake.  The cake is a hit in our house. It doesn’t last long.  When I first went sugar free, I was dying for a rich and moist cake that didn’t taste like a cardboard box.  I was flipping through a mailer and saw a carrot cake recipe and thought I make a few twists and turns with it to create a cake I could enjoy.  I remember visiting my husband’s grandmother when we were dating and she made a carrot cake that was to die for.  I’ve never been a carrot cake fan because of the slivers of carrot in the cake.  Hers didn’t have those slivers.  When I asked her what the secret was, she revealed using carrot baby food in the mix.  So along those veins, I remixed the recipe to use sweet potato baby food instead of carrots.  And replaced the brown sugar with Splenda brown sugar blend.  I can tolerate about 10 grams of sugar per serving, so I’m limited to a half a slice at a time.

Sweet Potato Cake – Sugar Free

¾ Cup Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
4 Eggs
4 Jars Sweet Potato Baby Food
1 Stick Salted Butter
2 ¼ Cups All Purpose Flour
2 ½ Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 ½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Salt

3 oz package Cream Cheese
½ Stick Salted Butter
1 Cup Splenda
1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350oF. Grease 13×9 inch baking pan.
Beat brown sugar and eggs in large bowl until fluffy.  Add sweet potatoes and softened butter. Mix well.
In a separate bowl stir together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.  Gradually add to sweet potato mixture; beating well until mixed.

Pour into prepared pan (heavily greased or nonstick). Bake for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Remove from pan and cool.

Blend cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add Splenda.  Adjust amount of Splenda to desired sweetness.

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Before making our anniversary meal, I prepared two other dishes for the week. I’ll post those recipes and hopefully better pictures later.  Stay warm!

November 7, 2010 at 9:46 pm Leave a comment

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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.


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