Hello, again, Dear Readers:
Are you warm? Are you snowed in? I’ve alternated between T-shirts/shorts and jeans/sweaters this week. At least we have the final season of Downton Abbey and the limited-run 10th series of The X-Files to keep us entertained. Oh, and the Superbowl is upon us again, and. . .I don’t care.
Got a message from Neighbor E this morning. He’s found the Dark-Chocolate-Raspberry Cupcakes, and now, E is happy:
Neighbor E doesn’t drink coffee, so I asked him what was in his coffee cup. . .he whipped up his version of the Starbucks Chai Tea Latte. Never had one, because I always go in for coffee. But hey–I duplicate the Hazelnut Macchiato on the stove top, so why not? (E also told me that a longtime local Starbucks location has also closed, but there are at least three more in the vicinity to take its place.)
Remember the new delivery vehicle being developed for Domino’s? I saw one in Clear Lake this week:
Since I was on the wrong side at a stop light, I could only get this side. But check out what it says on the fuel tank:
Makes you wonder if it’s a joke or if someone actually tried it.
In the Valentine’s Day department, Kroger had this jewel:
Perfect size for whom? Guess it’s supposed to a polite size for when your honey comes over, and you eat “the whole cake with two forks.” OK.
My kettlebell workouts ceased for about a week when I had a mysterious floodwaters in the bathroom–and it wasn’t the tub or commode. It was discovered, finally, and the blockage has been cleared. I couldn’t figure out how the water was coming into the area under the AC unit. But I’m back on it, with a heavier 15 pound kettle bell. The 10 pound weight wasn’t heavy anymore. (Other than the initial stiffness, I haven’t hurt myself, either.)
So, is anyone doing a Paleo diet this year? “Paleo,” if you’re not familiar with the term, is short for Paleolithic, as in Paleolithic Man. Yes, cave man, and not necessarily the ones I’ve dated. A Paleo diet is, as I understand it, a diet of food that Paleolithic Man would have consumed–meat, veg, little fruit, and nothing processed or the product of agriculture or manufacturing, like grains (and bread), cheese and butter (but I think milk is OK, because it’s just. . .milk.) Like low-carb and gluten-free, lots of folks have taken the proverbial ball and run with it, with books, blogs and articles abound on the subject. Once you learn the basics, go from there.
Some time ago, I stumbled onto a recipe via PaleOMG, written by Juli Bauer. She’s not only a foodie, she’s also a blogger, fitness person and bride-to-be. She blogs about all these things and creates some delicious Paleo food in the process. She’s also published a couple of cookbooks, something I haven’t aspired to doing yet. If you go check out her blog, be aware that she does use language I reserve strictly for the process of driving around in Houston (especially with the huge inbound migration we’ve received in the last few years.) I don’t really do that on this blog, but that’s just me (except I know I said “fart” once.)
As I’ve mentioned here before, I am very happy to toss a bunch of things in the Crock Pot and let it cook all day, particularly in the summertime, when you don’t want the kitchen to heat up past 80F (when it will feel like a “Heat Cage Kitchen.”) I went back to review the site, and to see what else Juli had, and came across a recipe for Sweet Pulled Pork Waffle Sliders. WAFFLES? Yes, waffles used as sandwich bread with freshly made mayo and slow-cooked pork shoulder. In this case, the waffles are made with almond flour and some other Paleo-friendly ingredients. I think I’m going to have to make this soon. . .my waffle maker has been put up for a few weeks, darnit. I haven’t forgotten it, of course, I’ve just been doing other stuff, like tossing stuff in the Crock Pot and making phone calls all day long.
But this weekend, I found one of Juli’s recipes I’d printed some time ago and forgot about. The Easy CrockPot Breakfast Pie has just a few ingredients, but is easy to make and is dairy-free. Why dairy-free, you ask? Well, it’s good to have handy if I have to do yeast-free again, and if I run out of milk or something. It’s a little different, because I got used to cheese and milk or cream in my breakfast cookery. But this is a welcome change, and it contains. . .sweet potato. THAT got my attention!
The recipe is as follows:
Easy CrockPot Breakfast Pie
- 8 eggs, whisked
- 1 sweet potato or yam, shredded
- 1lb US Wellness Meats Pork Sausage, broken up
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- any extra veggies you want to put in there: peppers, squash, etc.
- I greased my Crockpot with a bit of coconut oil to make sure none of the egg stuck to it. (Amy’s Note: I also used one of those slow cooker liners, as you’ll see in the pictures.)
- Shred your sweet potato. I used the shredding attachment on my food processor to make it super quick, but you could use a grater as well.
- Add all ingredients to your CrockPot and use a spoon to mix well.
- Set it and forget it.
- Place on low for 6-8 hours. I cooked it for more than 7 to make sure the pork sausage was completely cooked through.
- Slice it like a pie.
I skipped her smart-alecky final line, and eventually I’ll have it up on the Recipes Page as a printable PDF file for anyone who wants it. So let me tell you how easy this is to make.
Not a whole lot of ingredients as you can see, but I forgot the dried basil in this shot. Now, as I said, I used one of these:
They’re kind of hard to find, so I get 2 boxes when I head over to that nice HEB in Friendswood. When you set it up, it looks like this:
I greased it with either coconut oil by hand or sprayed on olive oil, I don’t remember. Then, get on with it:
I do love my little shredding toy. When you’re done with that, dump it into the crock, and get on with the onions in the same fashion (and why not?)
Because the last part of the ingredient list calls for “any extra veggies you want to put in there: peppers, squash, etc.,” I added a bag of frozen veg from Kroger:
I added in the spices next:
Now, Judi’s recipe calls for some mail-ordered pork sausage that’s clean, antibiotic free, gluten- and sugar-free, and all that. However, since I just wanted to try it, I used readily available sage pork breakfast sausage from Kroger. Knowing that I was going to make this dish, I left it out for several hours to take the chill off and let it soften up. (One day I’ll be buying stuff like that again.)
Let me point out here that in most of these slow-cooker breakfasts, you brown and crumble the sausage on the stove top in a cast-iron pan, then toss it into the CrockPot, then add the eggs, milk or cream, and other stuff. In this recipe, the raw pork sausage is added directly in and the dish cooked for a longer amount of time.
Take your spoon and mix it up well. Now get on with the eggs–you can whisk them, as the recipe states, but I’ve discovered that the lovely immersion blender works better:
Mine came with this beaker, but I’ve also done this with mixing bowls:
This recipe doesn’t have milk or cheese, but when you are adding milk to eggs, the immersion blender works really well to make sure it’s all incorporated. Now, just pour it over the mixture:
Give it another stir and pack it in a little:
Mine took about 7 hours to finish, but I also turned off the heat, unplugged it, then left the lid slightly off to let the heat escape and help it cool. When it was just warm, I removed the pie from the crock, and this is what I got:
One advantage of the slow cooker pot liners is the ability to lift this baby out, drop it directly onto a cutting board, peel off the sides of the liner, flip it, remove the rest of the liner, then cut it just like a cake or a pie. If you’re single like me, you just pack it up in containers and have a microwave-ready breakfast every morning right from the fridge.
This is more or less what you end up with:
Now, you get out of this what you put in, and you see two cut red beans there on the bottom, and probably a bit of cauliflower there, too. Those, of course, were from the frozen veg mix I added to it.
And you know what? It was pretty good. I was wondering if it would be disappointing, but it’s not–it’s really different. Not like the kind with eggs/cream/milk/cheese, but pretty darn good. I got two thumbs up from both Neighbor R and Neighbor E, who added:
“. . .it fascinates me. For healthy eating I doubt you could do much better. But all the ingredients blend in together and there isn’t one that stands out (kinda like cake without the icing). A restaurant I go to for brunch has some incredible vegetarian sausage. Thinking if piled a bunch of that in there to give it some spice, it would be a hit.”
Thanks, E! I noticed too that there wasn’t one thing you tasted over another, it just kinds of all blends up. Much as I love sweet potatoes, I didn’t really taste them like you do when you eat them “straight.”
Three thumbs up for this one! And since it’s done in the Crock Pot, it’s easy, too. Looks like we have a winner here, a great warmer for cold winter mornings, wherever you are.
Good morning, Dear Readers:
A quick re blog from another blogger who liked last night’s post.
It’s Chocolate and raspberry, my favorite everything.
It is NOT gluten free. But I almost don’t care. And I bet with a little thought, it could be.
Good evening, Dear Readers!
Winter hasn’t gotten the memo to knock it off. Atlanta is getting blasted again. It’s cold nearly everywhere.
I am so cold, I put on my one and only pair of long johns to go walk my neighbor’s pug today. I might wear them to bed. As I write this, it’s 36F, and we’ll have a high of 53 tomorrow, if we’re lucky. BRRRRRRRrrrrrrr. . .at least the rain will end.
First, an update from the garden: in addition to the ping-pong sized tomato growing in incredibly cold and wet weather:
Guess I’m getting another one. It won’t get much bigger than that before it starts turning red. And, finally, the radishes are coming!
I read in one of my magazines that radishes are very easy to grow. I found a packet of seeds in the deck box and dug up some dirt. They mature very quickly, although this seems to be taking longer than the 30 days stated in the magazine. That’s OK. I hope neighbors K, R and T like radishes if they really take off. Next time I’d like to try those cute French Breakfast radishes, which are red on top and white on the bottom (root end.)
Now, the mint has come back strong, since we’ve had rain and I’ve watered a few times. One of the main reasons I grow it is so I can make Nigella Lawson’s Corsican Omelette. I thawed out the Goat Cheese from a recent Trader Joe’s trip and beat some eggs. What the recipe says is to fold it in thirds. This time, I finally got it folded!
Then I took it OUT of the pan:
Better luck next time. Hey–it’s EDIBLE, OK? Note: this wouldn’t be a bad thing to split with your honey when you have breakfast in bed, or just breakfast together.
So, onto the news. . . .
This week is Valentine’s Day, and so I thought I would send a few things your way to make your V-D special. No, I can’t help you find the love of your life, or make him/her love you, or bring romance into your life, I can only help with the chocolate part.
Me? No, there isn’t a “someone special.” There isn’t anyone even close to that description. HPD told me to stop dating ’cause they can’t keep coming over to take them away. Restraining orders get expensive, too. My friends have specific instructions if I ever say those words, “I’m getting married.” Let’s see who’s brave enough to carry out a rescue mission.
Yes, I’m exaggerating. A little. But enough about me. . . .
I got an email a little while ago that Starbucks is offering a buy-one-get-one on latte drinks this Friday (February 14th) from 2-5 pm at participating stores. If you don’t know what that means, check out their online primer for lattes. Me, I’d go for the Skinny Flavored Latte with sugar-free hazelnut syrup in it. YUM. A lot less calories than the Hazelnut Macchiato.
Or I could just make myself a cappuccino/latte at home and toss in the hazelnut stuff. My choice, right?
So last year I wrote a post with several chocolate recipes for Valentine’s Day, and it’s still there if you want some. But the one thing that people equate with the day is chocolate covered strawberries. These babies are not in season this time of year, but thanks to expanded agriculture, they are available year round. Sure, they’re expensive, and in many cases very decorated (labor!) That’s all well and good, but if you want to do them yourself, it’s not too difficult. But let me tell you, there’s a trick to it.
Years ago I was talking to my Mom. They’d gone to Ponchatoula, LA to get some strawberries during the season (the best, BTW) and she was attempting to chocolate-cover them. Mom was melting the chocolate and pouring in cold heavy whipping cream. Guess what? The chocolate seized up! I explained that next time, try heating the cream and pouring it into the chocolate, melting it that way. I guess it worked, she never mentioned it again.
If you want to try your hand at it, here are some suggestions from Food Network’s website. Having done this a time or two, you must work fast, since the chocolate will firm up quickly. Don’t burn the chocolate, use parchment or wax paper, and don’t make a mess, please.
Now, last year I told you about the ex-boyfriend who, when we lived together, got sick with me for Valentine’s Day. A couple of weeks ago I was on the phone with him, and just for fun, I said, “Hey, what are we doing for Valentine’s Day?” I was joking of course, but he sort of took it differently. Next thing I know, I’m cooking dinner for him again! Well, he can’t make it this week, and I wouldn’t have done what I did for Christmas, but I would certainly make him something tasty, complete with dessert.
Tonight on Facebook, Joey Jones posted a short “survival guide” for us singles on Valentine’s Day. Pretty good, and if you’re sad about being single. . .don’t be.
Now, about 5 years ago, I think, I went to a “single girl Valentines dinner party,” and I brought dessert. Not just any dessert–a Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova that went over VERY well. As I’ve mentioned before, chocolate and raspberry are my favorite combination, and I’d knock over Shaquille O’Neill to get to it. But in this case, I was good, and they wouldn’t let me take home what was left. I baked it in a heart shape, which is easy to do since it’s meringue. While I don’t have a picture of it anymore, it came out perfect, and looked like this (but heart shaped.)
That will amaze friends and family alike. And–guess what? Bonus–it’s gluten free! No kidding–no flour or anything like it, although there is sugar, so you’d have to take that into consideration if your honey is diabetic. (There’s always Somersweet.)
If the chocolate-raspberry route isn’t for you, there’s also Nigella’s Cappuccino Pavlova, but that has corn flour in it, which I think is what we call corn starch, so it’s got a bit of a flour-like substance in it.
You know, I didn’t mean to turn this into the Nigella column, but I guess I did.
Whether you hang with friends or camp in with a significant other, or like me, hang out with the cat, just enjoy what there is to enjoy, and it’ll be great.
Happy Chocolate, I mean, Valentine’s Day!