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?

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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.

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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

Ingredients:
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

Directions:
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

Cake:
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

Icing:
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

Sandwichlicious

On Sunday we had to go by the store and pick up my Chocolate Carmel Creamer for my coffee on Monday morning. Those of you who know me, know I can’t just go into the grocery and get one thing.  Grocery shopping is like a treasure hunt for me.  I’m always on the look out for yummies.  If my husband isn’t with me to “push” me along, I’d wander for hours looking for something new or something to inspire me.  Don’t let me loose in the International Store. You might have to file a missing persons report.

Anyway, I digress.  I knew I had the Butternut Squash Soup I made the night before and was racking my brain for something I could make to accompany my delectable soup.  Well, the natural partner for soup is a sandwich.  But I didn’t want any ordinary sandwich to sit aside my yummy goodness.

I sauntered over to the cheese section to see if I could find a cheese to melt on top of a grilled turkey sandwich.  Low and behold I found a new line of Borden sliced cheeses.


There were four flavors.  Five are pictured here. They didn’t have the Sun-dried Tomato.  We bought one of each they had available.  I picked up some sliced turkey breast and freshly sliced cheese bread from the bakery and headed home.  I sauteed an onion in a little butter and olive oil.  Then sliced the turkey into bite size pieces and added the meat to the onion when it was almost done.  I cooked until the meat was nicely browned.  Meanwhile I lightly buttered the sliced cheese bread and browned it on both sides using my flat cast iron pan.   After putting the meat/onion combo on the bread, I placed a slice of the chipotle bacon cheese on top to melt.  I can’t begin to tell you what a hit these sandwiches were.  The kids raved about how good they were. So good in fact I made them again on Monday night and had one tonight after work before heading out to my Girls Inc. board meeting.

I don’t have a high tech camera so I hope you can get a good idea of how the finished product looked.

The sandwich is so simple, but so good. If you get a chance, swing by Kroger (or your local grocery if you don’t have a Kroger close by) and pick up a pack of that Chipotle Cheddar Cheese. It’s amazing and really added a nice mild zing.  I highly recommend it for your next autumn soup and sandwich night.  Let me know what you think.

October 26, 2010 at 11:11 pm Leave a comment

What’s for dinner?

Yesterday afternoon I cooked up a batch of Butternut Squash Soup.  Today we picked up sliced turkey and a plethora of flavored cheeses to make sandwiches for pairing with the soup. The Butternut Squash Soup is a favorite of mine.  It’s rich creaminess isn’t made with heavy cream like thick soups. It’s thickness comes from the squash itself.  Relatively low fat but rich with the taste of sweet onions, smoked bacon, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Topped with a dollop of heavy cream makes it a great treat on a cool fall night.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Smoky Bacon

Posted by Chef at The Food Channel® – Edited by Natalie Collier
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Serves: 4

Ingredients

1 large peeled butternut squash, cut into large chunks
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb. chopped raw bacon
1/2 cup chopped onion (chopped to the size of a stick of trident gum)
3 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1/2 tbsp. black pepper
8 tbsp. heavy cream for garnish

Preparation
1  Peel and chop squash into small cubes. Boil in large soup pot with chicken broth. When tender, puree using food processor in small batches. Return to large pot.

2  Cook bacon until crisp; remove bacon with slotted spoon and reserve small amount for the soup garnish. Add onions to the pot and sauté in bacon drippings over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes.

3  Add onion and bacon to large soup pot with squash puree. Heat under low heat.  Season with salt and pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg to taste.

4  Serve soup in large bowls garnished with crisp crumbled bacon and a small dollop of heavy cream.

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October 24, 2010 at 9:10 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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