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Ultimate Simple Keto Cookbook
Review: The Ultimate Simple Keto Cookbook

As I mentioned in my last post, Emilie Bailey, aka, The Texas Granola Girl, has a new cookbook. This time, it’s all about the simple keto.

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Hello, again, Dear Readers:

Ready for more keto recipes? Emilie Bailey has you covered with her newest. I know, I only reviewed her first cookbook just two months ago, but. . .I get around to it. Now, she’s got another cookbook with delicious food for you to enjoy.

We’ve had rain almost daily since April, and everything is growing like wildfire. I’m back to paint-bucket gardening this year, and BF finally mowed over the overgrown parsley from last year’s garden spot. I’ve started more parsley in a bucket, so we should have more soon. Basil is doing well, and I hope to get a few peppers. We’ll see.

Let’s get started.

Watermelon Update

So after I published the last blog, the car-guy growing watermelons stopped by later in the evening. No, he was not notified of the roasted watermelon. Here’s a pic of the original three he gave us:

Three watermelons on the stove

Aren’t they gorgeous?

I first showed him the two books by Emilie Bailey because he, too, eats “keto, mostly.” Then, I asked him why the stickers on the watermelons. It took him 15 minutes to explain, but it’s because:

  • The soil in both upper Tangipahoa and Washington Parishes is ideal for growing these melons
  • The melons grown in this area are highly prized for that reason
  • Older and native local residents are aware of the reputation of “Washington Parish watermelons” and will seek them out
  • Melons grown in Texas and Lucedale, MS, are frequently what you get in our local grocery stores, rather than locally grown
  • Some melons are shipped in from as far away as Florida
  • Those out-of-state melons are usually grown on land that is used continuously for melons, requiring the addition of heavy chemicals to continue growing them in the same fields repeatedly
  • These chemicals are in addition to the pesticides used in the out-of-state crops
  • Even local produce vendors (“fruit stands,” as they’re called here) sell out-of-state melons and pass them off as “locally grown”

He went into great detail about why his melons are better, but I guess that’s to be expected. From his description, I don’t believe his have heavy chemicals in them. (I hope not,  anyway.) Admittedly, they are tasty, and I’d highly recommend one if you find them. But if you’re in Texas, of course, you’d need to find one grown in the Rio Grande Valley, or maybe at Froberg Farms in Alvin. 

The Pantry

Our little pantry needs a re-org,  and it’s not the first time I’ve tidied it up. But a lack of additional shelving and no interest from BF means that I’m totally on my own here.

When I moved in, there was almost nothing in it. After emptying out all the boxes from my kitchen in Houston (thank you, Miss Alice and Neighbor E), the pantry was overflowing. And the beginning of the pandemic last year also saw BF doing some panic-buying, which is in boxes under the counter as well.

I was looking for an ingredient last week and had to pull out several things to get to whatever it was I needed. I removed this from the pantry, which wasn’t mine:

Cornstarch can

Is this any good?

I always buy the stuff in the yellow box, and we have one that I purchased long after the move. So using my amateur detective skills, I decided to investigate further:

Bottom of cornstarch can with 2009 date

Wait–what?

Yup, that’s the bottom of the can. BF says he has no idea where it came from, but I’m pretty sure I know. From his last marriage, that’s where. (The divorce was final in 2008.) I’ve found (and disposed of) his junk mail that was even older. Hopefully, we’ve gotten rid of all that stuff he tossed in a box and took with him. Obviously, this can went out in the trash.

So at some point, one of these days, I need to take everything out, check for the expired and bad stuff, and toss it. If I can talk him into it, some wonderful shelving will make its way into the pantry, and hopefully a coat or two of some nice paint. White is fine, but wouldn’t white shelves with a nice cheery color be even better? Because it’ll be harder to “lose” anything in the back like that.

This isn’t the first time I’ve come across older foodstuffs. I try not to have anything too old in the pantry, but it happens occasionally. The GER’s pantry also got a good cleaning when I moved into his house (almost 20 years ago now), and I tossed out a bag full of very outdated stuff that had just sat unused for many years.

The New Book: The Ultimate Simple Keto Cookbook

Author Emilie Bailey, aka, The Texas Granola Girl, spent part of her pandemic energies on writing two new cookbooks. The first of these books is being released tomorrow and is her second book of delicious recipes.

When I got the email from her list, I immediately signed up to review it. After all, it’s a free book! Well, it’s a good one, too, and I knew it would be. Emilie has been posting regularly on Instagram and sending out emails with new and delicious recipes.

Ultimate Simple Keto Cookbook

The latest!

Yes, there are three recipes with turnips. If you like them, the Classic Fauxtato Salad on page 61 is right up your alley. It’s made with everything you’d use for a regular potato salad, but with turnips. Let me know how it goes.

There are nine chapters, including an intro to keto, desserts (of course), and a chapter on keto staples, such as Easy Alfredo Sauce, Creamy Feta Dressing, Ranch Dressing, Quick Marinara Sauce, and Three-Minute Mayo, using avocado oil. There’s even a Basic Sandwich Bread on page 188.

We tried four recipes when I got this book, and they’re all two thumbs up. So let me tell you about the simple keto recipes I made.

One-Pan Chicken Parmesean, Page 122

We had one chicken breast in the freezer and only needed some mozzarella cheese. I gave BF his instructions and shopping list for this and the next recipe, made for dinner one night. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a full set of pictures, and none for the broccoli recipe. But I got a few.

First, preheat your oven to 400F. Slice two chicken breasts in half horizontally to make four cutlets, then pound them to a quarter-inch thick.

Mix up some parm cheese, Italian seasoning garlic, and a half-teaspoon of freshly ground pepper. Brush both sides of the chicken with some keto-friendly mayo, which you can make on page 178 or buy (read the labels of course.) Then drop the chicken in the seasoning mixture to coat, and fry in a large oven-safe skillet:

Chicken frying in pan

Just like this

Cook about five minutes on each side and remove from the heat (I turned it off.) Pour some sugar-free marinara sauce over the chicken. I used Classico Tomato & Basil, but she has a recipe on page 183.

Pouring sauce over chicken

1.5 cups of it

Spread it around:

Spreading marinara sauce over the chicken

All over the chicken

Now sprinkle one an one-half cups of shredded mozzarella (or provolone) cheese over the top:

Mozzarella cheese over top of chicken

Yum!

Into the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the chicken is completely cooked.

While that was going on, I did the broccoli at the same time.

Sheet Pan Broccoli, Page 80

The second part of this simple keto dinner has no pictures, but it was a perfect accompaniment to the chicken.

I used the countertop oven, which is preheated to 450 degrees. Chop the broccoli into florets, wash, and set aside. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, mix:

  • 1.5 tablespoons avocado oil (I used olive because I had it)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2.5 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari (tamari is wheat-free, and so is La Choy soy sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha
  • 1.5 teaspoons granulated 1:1 sweetener (I’ll explain next section)

Mix this up, and then add the drained broccoli. Toss it around well, then drop it on the baking sheet. Roast for 15 to 18 minutes, until the broccoli is tender. Toss halfway through the cooking time. Serve hot.

This recipe calls for 2 heads of broccoli, but I halved the recipe for me and BF, as I did with the chicken. Oddly, though, it’s a good thing I forgot to halve the seasoning and other ingredients for the chicken because it needed all of it.

Simple keto Dinner on red plate with chicien and broccoli

This was a fantastic and simple keto dinner

I did forget to sprinkle sesame seeds over the broccoli. Next time. Amazingly, he loved both and declared them “winners.” One more in our dinner rotation.

Classic Fudgy Brownies, Page 173

This was actually the first recipe I made. Does anyone want dessert? Once again, I had everything I needed to make these brownies, except butter. BF was instructed to get some on the way home from work because this recipe takes 1.5 sticks of butter. Oh, YEAH.

Now, one difference is that Emilie calls for 1:1 sweetener here and in the broccoli seasoning. What this means is that it’s a blend of sweeteners, frequently erythritol and monk fruit, to taste just like sugar. I wanted to try this one and had good success with it here: 

Sugar in the raw blended sweetener

One of many natural sweeteners available now

This is the ingredient list: 

Back of the package

See, at the top, it says 1:1, because it measures like sugar.

This is what’s in it:

Ingredients list

And if you’re diabetic–there you go!

Making Brownies

These come together in a snap and bake up nicely.

Ingredients for Classic Brownies

The Setup

With eight ingredients, you can have delicious keto brownies. I know, I know–you can buy a boxed mix too. Read the ingredients on that box, that’s all I’m saying.

So you’ll preheat the oven to 350F, and line the bottom of an 8×8 pan with a bit of parchment paper.

Parchment square in pan

You have to weight it, otherwise, the parchment goes sailing to the floor.

Chop up the butter and chocolate:

Chocolate and butter chopped in bowl

And melt together in the microwave, slowly and carefully, in 30-second intervals. Watch it so it doesn’t boil over or make a mess. What comes out is this:

Butter and melted chocolate

Stir them together:

Melted chocolate and butter stirred together

Ta-dah!

And set aside to cool for a bit.

Get Mixing–Wet Ingredients

So now you blend together the sweetener and chocolate mixture together, then the eggs, which must be room temp or it’ll make a big mess at this stage:

Mixing Chocolate And Sweetener

Like so

Now the eggs, one at a time.

Blending eggs and chocolate

Now add vanilla. If you’re lucky, you have some of this:

Pouring vanilla into brownie mix

Right in there, a teaspoon

Blend it well:

Blending vanilla into the mixture with a hand mixer

Almost there

Mix until the batter is smooth, and proceed to the next stage.

Dry Ingredients

Into another bowl, mix up a cup of almond flour, a teaspoon of baking powder, and a quarter-teaspoon of kosher salt:

Mixture eof almon flour, baking powedere and kosher salt

Just whisk to combine. (Obviously, I mixed while the chocolate was cooling a little.)

Now add into the wet ingredients. I prefer to do this a cup or so at a time so I don’t have it all over the kitchen.

Mixing dry ingreients into the wet

Like so.

Once it’s all incorporated, mix well, but don’t over-mix it.

Mixed brownie batter

Yum!

Time to spread it into the pan. Now, remember that you have one and a half sticks of butter here, so greasing isn’t necessary. My guess is the parchment paper is there as an assistant to make sure they all come out.

Spreading brownie batter into pan

This batter is quite thick, so it needs help

Into the oven at 350F degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, “until the center is just set but still jiggles”:

Brownies going into countertop oven for 25 minutes

Here we go!

This is what it looks like coming out of the oven:

Freshly baked hot brownies

Don’t cut into them just yet

You must let them cool for about 15 minutes on a rack, then refrigerate them for 35 minutes or longer before you cut them:

Brownies cut into 16

Now you can have one

I would say maybe 45 minutes because they were still warm and crumbled apart when I removed one from the pan. One of BF’s car-guy friends, this one a millennial, happened to be visiting and tried one. His father is doing keto, so he knows what that is. BF tried one in the next day or two and said it was “good, but dry.” There’s a reason for that.

Remember that when you refrigerate them for a longer time, the butter in the brownies will harden up, so they’ll be a bit on the dry side. However, they will stick together quite nicely, and taste just as delicious.

Of course, I loved them. Can’t wait to make more!

Cheeseburger Casserole, Page 137

Ok, I know, I said I “don’t do casserole,” but this is too tasty to pass up. Ground beef, onions, cream, and cheddar cheese–what’s not to like? Even he couldn’t say no to this one. Last week, we made it. But I didn’t take as many pictures as I intended.

First, brown a pound of 80% lean ground beef on the stove with onion and garlic for ten minutes:

Browning beef with onion and garlic

When it looks like this:

Cooked and browned beef in a cast iron skillet

Like this.

If there is any grease, drain it, then add the browned ground beef mixture to the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan or 9-inch square baking dish. Like the blackberry cobbler, I used 8-inch because that’s what I had.

Mix in a medium bowl 4 eggs, 5 tablespoons of tomato paste, a half-cup of heavy whipping cream, a half-teaspoon of kosher salt, and a quarter teaspoon of freshly ground pepper:

Adding salt to bowl

Mix this up really well, since this is the sauce

Add in a cup of shredded or grated cheddar cheese:

Adding grated cheddar cheese

Cheese makes nearly everything better, doesn’t it?

Mix well:

Cheese in sauce

Stir again

Baking

Now add to the pan:

Pouring cheese sauce into pan

Here we go!

Spread it over the top:

Spread sauce around

it will sink down a little, so mix it around if any beef is uncovered.

Add the remaining half-cup of cheddar cheese:

Cheese topping

SO good!

Make sure it’s covered:

Covered with cheese

Bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until it’s set and looks like this:

Baked cheeseburger casserole

Delicious!!

Cutting cheeseburger casserole

An easy, one-pan dinner

This recipe makes four generous servings, and we had dinner one night and lunch the next day.

Dinnere is served!

Dinner is served!

BF really enjoyed this one, and I’ll be making this more often, too.

After All That Cooking

Did I have a mess to clean up:

Dishes in sink

The dishes never stop

But the mighty dishwasher of the HeatCageKitchen took care of it:

Countertop dishwasher full

Still working like a champ

And it was a good night.

Until Next Time

Many thanks to Emilie Bailey for the gifted book, which will not collect dust. The next recipe I want to try is Creamy Parmesean Pork Chops on 151. Maybe I’ll wait until we have a dinner guest to try it with either the broccoli or another side from the book.

I emailed her to thank her for the book, and to let her know what we made. She responded that her favorites are the Creamy Cabbage Alfredo on page 96, and the Osso Bucco on page 140. Cabbage? Oh, he’s not going to like that. Move that to the “Drag Week Menu.”

If you’re looking for some delicious and easy keto food, this is your book. And if you don’t eat keto but want some easy, delicious food that simple, this is also your book. Or if you want to impress friends and family while sticking to simple keto recipes, Emilie’s book has got you covered there, too.

The new book is available on Amazon and other book outlets (yes, that’s my affiliate link) tomorrow (July 13th) and is currently available as a Kindle book. I’ll be posting my review there shortly.

Enjoy!!

 

Slice of blackberry cobbler
Review: The Southern Keto Cookbook

Keto? Southern Cooking? The two don’t normally go together. But if you’re The Texas Granola Girl, they certainly do. I’ll tell you all about it.

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Hi, Again Dear Readers:

It’s been a busy week again, and I thought a cookbook review was a good idea, especially for those who are doing keto. And if you’re in Texas, you’ll enjoy this one.

In response to my last post on the delicious Tex-Mex cauliflower rice dish that BF didn’t like, I received two responses. The first, from Aunt Ruth, who was quite complimentary. She might even try it one day. However, the second email came from the GER, who proclaimed, “BARFO! YUCK OH!” I used to cook for the GER. Like BF, if I didn’t tell him it was cauliflower, the reaction would have likely been different.

Incidentally, if you ever come to visit and see this on the kitchen counter:

Can of dog food on counter

Don’t panic.

Understand that it’s not part of any recipe. It’s just sitting there. That’s where we leave it when we get home from pet food supply runs at Tractor Supply. Honest.

Lots to tell, so let’s get started.

Alvin Calhoun’s Funeral

As I mentioned in the last blog, Baton Rouge barbecue master Alvin Calhoun passed away. The funeral was Friday the 14th at Winfield Funeral Home on Plank Street in Baton Rouge.

I was already planning to run some errands in Baton Rouge that Friday. BF was off work, and so the stars were in alignment for us to go.

BF and I went to pay our respects and see him one more time during the visitation period but didn’t stay for the service. We met with his son Davin and his wife Kim, nice people just like Alvin. I downloaded the picture of him onto my phone and sent it to her, along with the blog so they could read it. Davin will be continuing the business they started, and BF will be bringing some motor parts to them soon.

We went to the front of the chapel to see Alvin, and I chanted quietly with him for just a minute. He was well-liked, of course, and there were lots of people there. I couldn’t sit and chant with him for too long, but I did chant a little.

Alvin was dressed in a tasteful suit, and he looked good. In fact, he looked just like we remember him. Of course, we won’t forget him, either.

Friday’s Errands

After the funeral, we proceeded with our errands. It was going to be one, but since we were in the Capital City anyway, it ended up being a “day trip.”

My five-year-old vacuum cleaner needs a new electrical cord, and I made multiple phone calls to try and get it done. Finally, I found someone who would work on it for me without semantics. No kidding–one guy I talked to whined because I told him I had a higher-end Bissell. I found someone else. Once I figured out where I was headed, Friday was the day.

We did make it to Trader Joe’s, and we had to wear masks to go in. They were nice about it, as they always are. They’ve just dropped that requirement this week, though, nationwide. I saw lots of lovely new things, and they even had little cups of ready-to-eat “overnight oatmeal.” More on that later in this blog.

BF has finally set foot in Cost Plus World Market, where I buy his favorite British cookies, Jammie Dodgers. He had no idea what they were until I brought some home one day. They’re a favorite now, right behind Oreos.

And for the next time I make pesto, I found this lifesaver with a slightly curved end:

Blending spatula

Where has this BEEN all my life?

I mean, REALLY–the blades in my blender have left cuts in my other spatulas, but now I don’t have to ruin any more of them. It’s about the same length as my others:

Blender spatual full length

Can’t wait to use this!

It wasn’t expensive. Kitchenaid has a similar model, but I didn’t know that either. Next door is Joann’s, where I got some buttons for two projects and two on-sale patterns.

I also replaced my years-old coffee grinder that blew up the other night.

Bodum coffee grinder with box

Similar to the previous model

Wish I’d bought this a long time ago–it’s much quieter than the older one and doesn’t scare the cat. Bed, Bath & Beyond has some very high-end expensive models, and. . .I went to Target for this $20 model.

During a quick FaceTime call to BF, while I was out shopping recently, he told his manager at work that “there’s a whole other world that Amy’s in that I’m not familiar with.” (She waved at me, too.) Now he’s been introduced to a couple of those places. After a stop at a local outdoorsman place, the feeling is mutual. But I did pass on those locally-made dog treats they had made with nutria meat. Nutria is a large rodent creature that is an invasive species mistakenly introduced into the US, and thrives in coastal states like Louisiana. I don’t think even our dogs would touch those treats. Ever.

New Sprouts Market In Baton Rouge

We were headed home and what did I see? A new Sprouts Market! I had no idea!

I never made it to the Sprouts that, um, sprouted, in Houston before I left. Longtime friend of the blog LK visited the one near Pearland on Old Chocolate Bayou Road when they first opened. I meant to go, but I never made it. Or maybe I was afraid to because of all the great stuff they have and I didn’t have money for all that. Oh, well. There are now 49 Sprouts Markets throughout Texas, and Louisiana just got one.

I’ll be stopping in next trip and giving a full report, finally.

Low Caffeine Movement?

It seems that drinking high-octane coffee during the pandemic has led to something unintended–caffeine overload. Now one company wants to help with that. 

New startup Buzz Lite recognizes that coffee lovers don’t like caffeine overdoses and offers an alternative. It looks like the millennials are leading the way, but lower-dose caffeine can benefit those with high blood pressure and other caffeine-induced issues.

Yeah, OK, I’ll just go ahead and admit that I can get downright grouchy if I OD on caffeine. BF just ducks and sneaks out the back door to get to the garage.

What’s Amy been drinking with her decaf since she got here? Community Coffee’s Half-Caff Ground Coffee. Add about a half tablespoon or so into the decaf and it’s just fine. No burning my stomach or anything, and I get enough “boost.” It’s when I add full-strength coffee or have a cup of very strong tea that I start reaching for the Tums.

Half-caff has been around for a while, and it just takes knowing how much you can tolerate without bad side effects. I’m glad I’m not the only one, though.

Buzz Lite Coffee is currently only available online, but may eventually be as widely available as other brands of coffee.

The Texas Granola Girl

What happens when a Texas ranch girl goes keto and starts a blog? You get The Southern Keto Cookbook.

The cookbook has been available since last year and is one of those wonderful titles I received from my year-long Callisto benefit. I’ve made a few recipes from this book, and I always want to make something else and get BF to eat it. He just told family members his philosophy of my cooking over the weekend: “Stay ALERT! Stay ALIVE.” Not all of it is bad, though.

Emilie Bailey is a rancher’s wife in a city north of Dallas. She cooks and works on the ranch with her husband and two daughters. She’s a seventh-generation Texan and is also a former restauranteur. After a health diagnosis of inflammation for both her and one daughter, she began creating keto recipes that are just as enjoyable as their non-keto counterparts.

Here are a few that I’ve made since receiving this book.

Keto Green Chile Cauliflower Rice Bake

Well, on page 64-65, is a recipe I think I tried first, and even BF liked it (mostly because of the Monterey Jack Cheese.) Tasty, cheesy, and a nice touch with the can of green chiles.

Adapted from Emilie’s mother’s rice dish, it’s a creamy, delicious side dish that’s easy to make and good anytime. I haven’t made it since last year, so I need to make it again.

NOTE: you must cook the cauliflower rice prior to making this dish. I speak from experience. That’s why there’s a bit of yellow highlighter and a note to make sure I don’t forget.

Keto Turnips? NO

Ok, I hate to rain on this parade, but turnips and I do not get along.

Emilie has six recipes for turnips, including one I tried on pages 66-67 for Cheesy “Hash-Brown” Casserole.  Turnips are used here as a substitute for potatoes. One of our neighbors grew turnips in his garden last year and brought over a bunch. Well, this was the first recipe I tried.

Never again.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad recipe at all. And I know there are people who just love turnips. Not me. BF wouldn’t try it, so I ate it all week. Well, until it made me horribly sick.

As I mentioned in the post on cauliflower rice, I’ve made mac & cheese with cauliflower many times. I need to make that again sometime. But the turnips nauseated me!

Maybe it’s because I ate it every day for a few days. I’ve never eaten turnips that much or that often. Much as I like this book, I have to pass on those six recipes. If you like turnips, you’ve got six recipes to enjoy with them.

Granny’s Blackberry Cobbler, Keto Version

Now here’s one sweet treat we can all get into.

Dessert is always essential, and Emilie doesn’t disappoint here, either. Allow me to show you a dessert that I like because it’s tasty and keto, and BF likes it because it’s sweet and tasty. 

We have blackberries growing all around the property. When they start to ripen, I pick and pick and pick until the cycle is over. Right now on the other side of the garage, there is a mass of the little berries I’m anxious to see ripen so I can pick them all. One reason is I want them is for a cup for this delicious blackberry cobbler on page 176. If I pick enough I can freeze them and make this anytime.

Note that the pit bull loves these little berries, and will eat them off the vine if I show them where they are.

The Keto Dessert Time

There is a quart-sized bag of frozen berries from last year that I forgot to use up, so I decided to make one this week. I let the berries thaw for a few hours prior to baking. They were juicy, and they worked just fine.

Ingredients minus sweetener

The Setup

Of course, I forgot one essential ingredient:

Sweetener bag erythritol

This is essential, of course.

Emilie, like many keto authors, uses a blend of this and monk fruit, but I don’t have any right now. So because I didn’t think it was sweet enough, I added a bit of my secret weapon “booster.”

Bottle of liquid stevia in my hand

Liquid Stevia

One of the biggest differences this time is that I decided to use almond MEAL instead of almond FLOUR, as I normally do. This may be why it didn’t bake in the recommended time, and I had to put it back for another 20 minutes. But it came out just fine. 

Making Cobbler

There are a few steps, but it’s not difficult. First, mix the dry ingredients and whisk them together:

Whisking dry ingredients together

Just like this

Then start adding in the wet ingredients:

Adding sour cream

I did this out of sequence but it came out fine. Next up: a stick of melted butter:

adding eggs

And three eggs, whisked and beaten well:

pouring eggs into the mix

Right in.

Pouring almond milk

Almond milk instead of regular dairy? Yes.

Finishing

Spraying baking pan

Don’t forget the cooking spray!

Now add the very thick batter into the baking pan:

Spreading batter into baking pan

I had to do this, it was that thick.

Now add the blackberries–sprinkle them over the top:

Sprinkling blackberries

One cup, but I wish I’d added a little more

Next, you press the blackberries into the batter a little, so that they’re still visible but “stuck” in the batter.

Berries pressed into batter

Like this.

Mix up a tablespoon of the sweetener (no stevia here) and a quarter-teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and sprinkle that over the top.

Spreading cinnamon topping

It makes a nice sweet and crunchy topping

And Bake!

At 350F degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, until it’s baked, “or until the top is golden brown.”

Blackberrycobblerbaked

Ta-dah!

You must let this cool for a good 30 minutes before cutting into 9 squares and serving.

Slice of blackberry cobbler

It is as good as it looks.

Emilie also suggests serving with fresh whipped cream, but we didn’t do that.

I did, however, let our dinner guest TT know that while he was welcome to try some, it’s keto, gluten-free, and not what he might be expecting based on the Instant Pot chocolate cake. He said that he was full, and left shortly thereafter. The Boy had also come by to work on a motor, stayed for dinner, and was going to try some but ended up forgetting. 

BF didn’t. I might make another one next week.

Oh, and if it’s cold from the fridge, warm it in the microwave. You’re welcome.

Two Things

This cobbler look longer to bake than I remember from last year’s, but there are two factors that likely affected it:

  • First, I used a pan that was 8″ by 8″, not the 9″ x 9″ suggested in the recipe. That’s what I have on hand.
  • Second, I used almond meal instead of fine almond flour made from skinned almonds. It makes a heavier and denser batter, I think, and that probably was the main reason for the longer time required.

It was still good.

Followup: The Overnight Oats Post

Last week I served BF dinner and said, “I wouldn’t feed you anything bad.” He responded, “what about quinoa? And the Awful Falafel?

Remember my post on overnight oatmeal about five years ago? I wrote this when I was living in Houston, and told BF about it on one of our nightly calls. I suggested that he try overnight oatmeal for himself. It would be perfect for a single guy living alone. Breakfast–done! Well, that’s what one thinks.

Five months after I moved here, the weather warmed up in February, and I decided to make it one night. The next morning, I went where BF was snoozing with the cat, and I asked, “Honey, would you like to try some overnight oatmeal?” Rolling over and half awake, he says, “hmmm, sure.” I gave him a bite and got a reaction I wasn’t expecting. He was then wide awake when he said:

“AAAAAHHHH!!! That’s disgusting! It tastes like cat vomit! AAAAAHHHH!!!!”

Yeah, OK, I guess you didn’t like it. Thanks for the unvarnished opinion, as always. Believe me when I tell you that I still giggle when I think about this pivotal day in our relationship history.

To Anyone Who Will Listen

BF likes to tell HIS side of the story frequently, most often to coworkers. It was at that point that he began telling AK and then everyone, “she’s tryin’ ta kill me!” I’ve been offered my own opportunity to tell the story from my side on a few occasions. However, the conflict comes down to one factor: BF never read the original blog post.

So last week, I looked it up and read it to him. Finally, he understands that overnight oatmeal is served cold and that I like it with chocolate, peanut butter, agave syrup, and a few other things. You can make it with a wide variety of ingredients, customized to your own tastes. BF is so used to the packaged “instant” stuff that he doesn’t know how to make it for himself. Why would he, when there is such a thing as “instant microwave oatmeal?” Never mind that it has 6,000 grams of sugar and a host of other chemicals that you might not want to eat. 

Well, we keep soldiering on, as two imperfect people who don’t give up on each other.

Until Next Time

Whether or not you’re doing keto, I highly recommend The Southern Keto Cookbook by Emilie Bailey. The food is good, pretty easy to make, and enjoyable whether or not you’re from the South. I want to make so many more, like the Roasted Poblano Cauliflower “Mac” & Cheese on page 78 and the Texas Taco Hash on page 168. But there is. . .well, never mind. It looks tasty, for me, anyway.

Turnip lovers may like this book for the six recipes alone, but the entire book has plenty of great recipes we’ll be enjoying for a long time. And it’s all healthy, keto-friendly, and uses ingredients that are generally easy to find, even in this part of Louisiana.

Emilie’s newest blog post was just posted today. What’s she cooking up? Keto Rice Pudding, with, no kidding, cauliflower rice. You’ll have to read it to believe it, and I need to find whatever allulose sweetener is, order it, or make it with what I have here. Dairy-free, her newest dessert uses full-fat coconut milk and almond milk. It’s just so crazy I have to try it, and BF can have his Jammie Dodgers.

Happy Dining, Y’all!

Shishito growing on vine
Have You Tried Shishito Peppers?

Shishito peppers really are a thing, and I’m not swearing. They’re delicious, and generally not hot. 

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Hi, again, Dear Readers:

Just popped in for another blog post, this time on something new I can’t believe I discovered. Thank heavens for streaming and Philo TV.  Shishito peppers are a new item in the US produce market, and of course, I’m one of the last people to know.

Let me tell you what’s been happening.

A Zucchini Recipe

If you’re seeing lots of zucchini, I have a simple recipe for you. The inspiration is out of the book from which my favorite cheesecake comes, The 30-Minute Low-Carb Cookbook by Pamela Ellgen.

I had some leftover roast chicken and zucchini. I flip open this book and there is this recipe using pesto, chicken, and zucchini.

You have my attention. 

So I read it and realize that I have the ingredients, including the basil and other ingredients for pesto. I probably have 25 containers of pesto in the freezer dating back to 2018 (or maybe 2017.) Why should I make more? (I will, because I need to cut the basil soon.)

The recipe calls for spiralized zucchini, but I don’t have a spiralizer. What I do have is a Norpro Apple Master, which does much the same thing.  Sort of. I’ll get a spiralizer one day, OK? For now this is what I have to work with.

Two cups of cooked chicken are called for, and so I managed to pick and chop exactly two cups from the chicken carcass in the fridge. I used some of the recently made tarragon butter. BF really enjoyed the chicken, and it was really tasty, but he didn’t want to know what was in it.

Once I finished with the zucchini (cutting the cores into matchsticks and cleaning the machine), I sauteed it in a tablespoon or so of olive oil for two minutes. Then, I added in the chopped chicken, sauteed for another couple of minutes. Then I added in an entire container of my home-made pesto from 2019, which was I presume to be a cup, but I think was more. It was the first one I grabbed when I opened the freezer. It was probably too much. Next time I’ll just use measure out one cup.

Well, when I finished it, this is what I ended up with:

Pesto Chicken And Zucchini

It’s so GREEEN!!!

The recipe also suggests serving it with additional Parmesean cheese (because you would have put some in the pesto) but I forgot to add some.  It was delicious as-is, and if you’re a fan of zucchini and pesto, this is highly recommended for a quick dinner.

If you don’t have chicken already cooked, you could also pick up a rotisserie chicken (or chicken parts, if HEB still sells them that way) or cook a couple of thighs in the toaster/convection oven, air fryer, or heck, even poach it if you’re really in a hurry.

It’s low-carb, gluten-free, and without cheese, it can be dairy-free, too.

BF’s reaction to this delicious dish was to exhibit another of his retching noises.

Speaking Of Him

We’ve had another flora and fauna fiasco.

It seems that although BF remembers his Dad having a garden and a bounty of fresh produce every year, he doesn’t remember everything. I should have seen this early on and paid closer attention to what he was doing.

BF wanted some green beans, and he planted them. These beans grow on vines, and so at some point, he asked for a stake to let them grow up onto. The corn, watermelon, beans, and potatoes were pretty much BF’s domain, so I didn’t ask questions.

Last week after our garden massacre, I was out there looking for the cucumbers, zucchini, and any peppers ready to pick. Pulling up more dead cornstalks, I thought to myself, “we should have been picking those beans by now.” I look over at one stake, where I saw one bean before, and realize that it’s about dead. Not only are there no beans, but there are also no leaves.

On the other stake, there were plenty of leaves and little purple flowers. No beans, just flowers, and leaves. That’s when I realized it.

He Staked Weeds

The next day I brought him outside to ask him about it, and said, “Show me the beans.” He turned around and walked inside without a word!

I pulled out as much of the weed as I could find, and there was a considerable amount. Even off the stake, there was so much that it was like pulling a heavy quilt off a bed.

When I got inside, he said, “you don’t have to be so judgmental.” I wasn’t trying to be, but if it was indeed, planted beans, I want to harvest some.

I’m not mad at him–it’s actually funny. So now I ask him, “where’s the beans?” It’s along the same lines as asking, “didn’t you pay the light bill?” when we have a power outage like we did this past weekend. (Yes, we paid it early and everyone else was out of power, too.)

Well, anyway, we’re nursing some tomato plants. The Chocolate Cherry plants have flowers and are looking good so far.

We really need to get an earlier start next year.

On another note, the wife of one of his car-guy friends posted a picture of something they cooked out of their garden. BF mentioned that this friend keeps his garden free of Mother Nature’s creatures with the use of an electric fence. I like it.

The Shishito Discovery

As always, I’m watching Ina Garten while sewing, and it’s a show I’ve never seen before.

She starts talking about this tasty appetizer and these little peppers that you just saute up and eat, seeds and all (skip the stems.) They’re not big, about the size of a lipstick. Picked green, they’re sweet, but if left to turn red, they’re hotter.

Ina also says that there is always an occasional hot one, and she seems to get that one.

So I did a little reading on the subject. Although Ina says they are from Japan, they’re actually grown all over Asia. They’re small, with thin walls, and cook quickly.

Of course, nobody has them here, but I remembered them when I saw the plants at Tractor Supply. 

Growing Shishito

If you’re in Houston, you may be lucky enough to see these small, spark-plug sized peppers in Central Market, select HEB stores, Rice Epicurean Market, Whole Foods and maybe Trader Joe’s. This being Louisiana, I can’t imagine where you’d find any unless you were in a bigger Rouse’s, or maybe Whole Foods, since they sell Hatch chiles in late summer. And of course, they would be in Baton Rouge or New Orleans–IF you found them at all.

But in our case, the local Tractor Supply store had some, and I grabbed two of the plants. I was on my fruitless search for more Anaheim chile plants, but I really wanted to try these.

Oh, am I glad I did!

They took a while to start producing. But once they did:

Shishito pepper with bell

To the left are some Anaheims and one little bell pepper called Tequila.

I just let them grow for a while, but one Friday night, I realized I had to pick them. The larger of the two plants had so many peppers that it was tipping over. I picked them and came inside to find the recipe.

Turns out the recipe is in Ina’s last book, Cook Like A Pro. I’ve used this book for several recipes, but this recipe passed me by. It’s my first introduction to these delicious peppers.

Fast And Easy Saute

Of course, I didn’t take pictures, but it’s a quick one. You can find the recipe here on The Food Network’s website.

But it really was simple, you saute them on a fairly high heat with olive oil. While they cook, add salt and pepper. Remove them from the heat, squeeze over some lime juice, sprinkle on some flaked sea salt, then toss. (Yes, I have Maldon’s Sea Salt as well as a few other types.)

I had to do them in two batches because I didn’t have a really big skillet. No matter.

One of BF’s car-guy friends was over, and we were also having some Texas Tamales. BF offered him some tamales, and I asked him to try one of the peppers. He had one of each, and loved both.

No, BF didn’t want any, but I did:

Tamales and shishito pappers on red plate

A truly diverse, multicultural dinner!

My little surprise was that there were no hot peppers in the bunch. I ate some of them that Friday night, and the rest I ate with dinner a couple nights later. NO HOT ONES. Woo hoo!

Ina’s Next Book

The next Barefoot Contessa cookbook comes out in early October, titled Modern Comfort Food. She announced it on social media a few months ago, and Clarkson Potter moved up the publication date by a couple of weeks because of the current events. We all need comfort food, yes? 

Has the fair Ms. Garten discovered alternate waffle maker recipes? It seems so–in the description, it says:

In Modern Comfort Food, Ina Garten shares 85 new recipes that will feed your deepest cravings. Many of these dishes are inspired by childhood favorites–but with the volume turned way up, such as Cheddar and Chutney Grilled Cheese sandwiches (the perfect match for Ina’s Creamy Tomato Bisque), Smashed Hamburgers with Caramelized Onions, and the crispiest hash browns that are actually made in a waffle iron!

It’s gonna be great. All of Ina Garten’s books have delicious food with great directions, so this will also be a good one.

If You See Some, Get Some

When I went looking, I noticed that Giada de Laurentiis also has a recipe for these, but she makes a “baked salt” with olives to go with it. I haven’t tried that one yet. Like Ree Drummond, Giada is doing her show at home. I’m catching up with all my favorite shows as I can, hence Philo TV.

A Google search will turn up more results for you, like this blog from Paleo Scaleo. Jessica is in South Carolina, and also grows them herself. I will be saving more of the seeds before the season is over so I can grow them again next year.

Don’t forget that if you buy them, you can save the seeds in a Ziploc bag and start them next year. Ditto for Hatch chiles. That’s always my plan.

Shishito peppers are a delicious thing to have, whether you’re snacking on them in front of the TV, or serving them at your next cookout or dinner party (whenever that is, right?) They’re healthy, gluten-free, low-carb and keto, so why wouldn’t you? Just make sure you have some dairy milk around, even skim, for the possibility of a hot one.

Don’t worry about BF. He’ll either come around one day, or he’ll keep eating ravioli from the can. He likes that stuff.

Enjoy!

Cheescake slice on red plate with fork
A Tale Of Cheesecake

Cheesecake–the word conjures up images and tastes of sweet and creamy, and with good reason.

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Hello, again, Dear Readers:

As promised (and way too late), here is my blog on cheesecake. Today’s post comes with two separate recipes from two different books, one of which was a gift from Callisto Press.

I don’t remember the first time I had cheesecake, but it was probably one of those frozen numbers. However, I remember being in a restaurant somewhere in New Orleans in the late 80’s and ordering blueberry cheesecake for dessert. Luckily, I got the last slice they had. That didn’t go over well with my dining companions, but today I couldn’t tell you who they were.

Learning Cheesecake

I’ve bought many of them until I learned how to make them from Suzanne Somers’ cookbooks. From her first book, Eat Great, Lose Weight, I started making the Sugarless Cheesecake on page 186, but with Somersweet when it became available. The original recipe called for Nutrasweet, which I would never use. Later, she discovered that Nutrasweet wasn’t the best option and eliminated it from subsequent books.

From Get Skinny On Fabulous Food, I also like the Cappuccino Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake, which involves some sugar, so it’s “Level Two.” This means you’re incorporating some carbohydrates into your eating plan. I always made it with Somersweet. But with the wide availability of sugar-free chocolate and chocolate chips, I might revisit this recipe and try it again with erythritol (Swerve.)

In her Sexy Forever Recipe Bible, which is partly a “best of” compendium book but with other new recipes, there are three cheesecake recipes. On page 343, the New York Style Cheesecake is from one of her smaller books, Desserts. The next one is called Cappuccino Cheesecake on page 345, and is similar to the Cappuccino Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake. All of these recipes used Somersweet. I’ve never made it, but on page 344, there is also Peppermint Cheesecake With Chocolate Crust from another book.

There may have been one or two others here and there, but until recently, Suzanne Somers’ recipes have been the standards by which I make cheesecake.

Today I offer two more delicious offerings that are also healthier options.

Cheesecake #1: Keto In The Instant Pot

I’ve mentioned the multiple keto cookbooks I’ve been gifted, but there is one that I bought: Keto In An Instant by Jen Fisch.

Keto In An Instant Front Cover

Newest book by Jen Fisch.

Last year I reviewed her book Keto In 30 Minutes. I later got her first book, The Easy 5-Ingredient Ketogenic Diet Cookbook: Low-Carb, High-Fat Recipes for Busy People on the Keto Diet while on a Target run. She has one more book that I plan to get soon.

After her 30-Minute book, I subscribed to Jen’s emails and found out about the upcoming IP book, and later pre-ordered it. Jen promised, and this book delivers with some tasty food, some of which BF likes.

Keto Gumbo Recipe

This is one particular recipe he likes, minus the okra.

One particular delight, of course, is her Vanilla Bean Cheesecake on page 197.

Because it’s an Instant Pot, you’ll need a six-inch springform pan. Naturally, I happen to have one, bought about 1996 or 1997 to make a no-bake cheesecake for “company” from a Martha Stewart magazine dinner. (I was a newlywed at the time.) Used once, I’ve dusted it a few times, so I was glad to find a reason to use it.

The crust is made from almond flour, a tablespoon of erythritol, and two tablespoons of melted butter. Jen’s trick to ensure a nice crust is to encase the bottom in foil that’s lined with a paper towel. Press the crust down in the bottom of the pan, just as you would with graham cracker crumbs.

Keto nut crust in the bottom of the springform pan

A simple nut crust underneath

I don’t have any pictures of what comes next, so I’ll have to tell you: mix up 12 ounces of softened cream cheese, the insides of a vanilla bean (or a little more than a teaspoon of vanilla extract), 3 large eggs, a quarter-cup of heavy cream, a teaspoon of grated lemon zest, and two teaspoons of fresh lemon juice with your electric mixer (a hand mixer will work.) Then pour this over the crust.

Into And Out Of The Instant Pot

Ok, as with most pressure-cooker recipes, you’ll need to add a cup of water into the pot. Add the trivet with the lifting handles, then carefully put the pan on top of the trivet in the pan. Cover the top of the springform pan with foil.

Put the lid on and secure it, then set it to cook on high pressure for 45 minutes. When the 45 minutes is done, let it depressurize on its own for 15 minutes, then quick release to pop the pressure completely. Now you can remove the lid.

You’ll first remove the pan with the trivet from the pot–be careful, it’s hot–and remove the foil and paper towel from the bottom. Let it sit out for an hour to cool, on a wire rack. After an hour, cover the pan with foil and put it in the fridge for anywhere from 4 to 24 hours.

Cheesecake and the pan

Obviously I didn’t follow the directions exactly.

Yes, I know, sometimes I don’t do it exactly right or I don’t read the directions correctly. It happens. At this stage, it’s light and fluffy, but it hadn’t been refrigerated. Once it’s refrigerated, it’s a little flatter, more solid, and more like a cheesecake, as in this picture.

Cheescake slice on red plate with fork

Doesn’t that look delish?

There is never a bad time to have a delicious cheesecake, especially if it’s a healthier version:

Cheesecake with chaffles on a red plate

And what’s wrong with having cheesecake with breakfast, or egg & cheese chaffles for dinner?

If you’re just wild about the Instant Pot, as BF’s sister and sister-in-law are, this is a great dessert anytime. Remember, it’s only a six-inch diameter, and you’ll need that size of a springform pan if you don’t have one already. They’re not expensive, and that’s the perfect size for the Instant Pot. Plus you’ll have to plan ahead.

But that’s not the only way to do this.

Cheesecake #2: Even Easier

Ok, so now you know how to make a delicious, low-carb/keto/sugarless/gluten-free cheesecake in your Instant Pot.

What if you don’t have an Instant Pot, or don’t want to mess with yours? Ladies and gentlemen, I have yet another solution: The Everyday Vanilla Cheesecake from The 30-Minute Low-Carb Cookbook by Pamela Ellgen. It’s on page 126, and I’ve been making it since December 16th of 2019. How do I know? Because whenever I got the book, in October, I think. I flipped through it and kept thinking I needed to try this out. Finally, I did, loved it, dated the recipe, and I’ve been making it ever since.

Literally. When I make one, I seek out the ingredients for the next one. That is, I get more cream cheese, and check my supplies of almond flour, cream, lemon, and butter.

What’s so great about this cheesecake when you’ve got Jen Fisch’s deliciousness? Well, for the following reasons:

  • There is little baking/cooking–the crust is baked for a short time, but the filling isn’t
  • No eggs are involved, good for people like The E Man, who is allergic to eggs
  • You can eat a slice of cheesecake in an hour
  • It’s two inches bigger than Jen’s

 

Not that Jen’s cheesecake isn’t worth it, because it is. But even Jen may like this one, even though it’s not hers. (I don’t know, I haven’t asked. Just an opinion.)

Ingredients

The Setup

This version happens in two parts, essentially. Unlike Jen’s Instant Pot cheesecake, you’ll make the crust first, bake it, then mix up the filling. But before we get started I need to tell you about the sweet part.

Swerve Or Erythritol?

Like most of the newer low-carb and keto dessert recipes, they tend to call for Swerve brand sweetener, which I wrote about a while back. It’s a great replacement for the extinct Somersweet, and it works just like they say it will, cup-for-cup.

However, erythritol is available in a number of forms, and from a number of places, including Whole Foods, Amazon, and Vitacost, which has a 3-pound bag for $13.99. From what I’ve seen, that’s not bad. Vitacost also sells other brands, as well as Swerve for about the same price as other stores, including Walmart.

Should you decide to pass on Swerve and buy plain erythritol, you may find that it’s like regular granulated sugar. It doesn’t dissolve or “melt” like regular sugar would, so you have to grind it yourself. It doesn’t take much to do, just drop it in the food processor until you get the consistency you need.

Remember my little blender/food processor combo?

It’s perfect for this task, because then I empty out the powdered erythritol and blend up the crust. It works like this–first I grind up the sweetener:

Grindning erythrytol in small food processor

I drop all that I need for the entire recipe in and grind all at once.

I dump the whole thing into a pinch bowl:

Erythritol ground in a bowl

These little bowls are very handy for setting out ingredients anytime.

And then get on with the crust, starting with the half-stick of melted butter:

Melted butter in a bowl

Butter binds the almond flour to make a nice crust for your cheesecake.

I pour it into the food processor first:

Pouring melted butter into food processor

There is a bit of residue from the erythritol, that’s OK

Then add two cups of almond flour:

Almond flour in food processor

Right on top of the butter

A small bit of salt:

Pouring salt into food processor

Just a tiny bit for contrast, no need for salty/sweet

Then add the two tablespoons of sweetener:

Erythritol pouring into food processor

Goes right on top

Now blend it up:

Blender running

This little food processor function is great.

It takes a couple of minutes for the whole thing to mix up perfectly. It took longer if I put the butter in after the almond flour.

Blended crust for cheesecake

Looks like this.

Once it’s well blended, add it to your ungreased, unlined springform pan.

Pouring crust into cheesecake pan

Just like that. It’s the consistency of cookie dough.

You’ll need to press it into the pan. A trick I learned on The Food Network was to use the bottom of your measuring cup. It’s fast and easy as well as a lot more even. If you have arthritis, you’ll likely prefer that too.

It doesn’t take long, and once you get the hang of it, you’re done.

Pressing crust more

Works great, doesn’t it?

Now in the process, you’ll see some of the crust move up the sides. I like to take that off so that it doesn’t break off and make a mess when the cheesecake is done.

Trimming edges of cheesecake crust

A butter knife would work well, too.

When you’re done, it’s nice and neat.

Neat cheesecake crust in pan

see?

Bake it at 350F for about 8 minutes:

Temperature on oven

Perfect!

When it’s done, you’ll have a lovely crust.

Crust baking in the oven

Doesn’t take long at all.

When the time is up, put it in the freezer. In my case, I put a cork trivet underneath to keep it from melting the ice trays. Our kitchen fridge and freezer don’t have a lot of room.

Be careful not to grab the clamp–I did that once. Fortunately, nothing bad happened, even though the pan was very hot.

Now time to get on with your filling.

Making The Filling

I start this while the crust is baking, and in the middle, I have to stash the crust in the freezer.

Your sweetener is already measured, so now just squeeze out your lemons and measure out the heavy whipping cream:

Heavy whipping cream pouring into measuring cup

Just a half-cup.

Add your ingredients to the bowl, starting with your room-temp cream cheese:

Emptying cream cheese into bowl

They’re really soft, so they fall right out of the foil packets

Add in your previously ground sweetener, one-third cup:

Pouring sweetener into mixing bowl

It looks just like sugar!

Then the cream:

Pouring cream into mixing bowl

Then the lemon juice and vanilla:

Pouring vanilla into mixing bowl

I found my favorite Mexican Vanilla in Hammond, of all places. Must get more soon.

Now start mixing:

Mixer in action

It starts out like this, but gets very smooth in a few minutes.

You’ll know when it’s ready:

Well mixed cheesecake filling in bowl

Just like that.

Take a taste and see if you like it.

Secret Weapon: Liquid Stevia

Ok, if you feel like the filling isn’t quite sweet enough, here’s what you add to the filling, one drop at a time:

Liquid stevia

Any brand of stevia will do. Add drop by drop, it’s powerful!

I put about six drops in and blend it along with the erythritol. It doesn’t change the taste, and makes it a tad sweeter, but not overly sweet. If you want more, add a little more–but one drop at a time, or you’ll ruin the cheesecake.

And if you’re alone in your kitchen, you get a special treat at this point.

Beaters covered with filling

Yum!

At this point the crust may still be hot, so you might leave the filling off to the side and do a little cleanup, maybe fill up the dishwasher or set some things aside to soak. Doing so will give the crust a little more time to cool off.

Filling And Freezing

Ready? Carefully pour and/or scoop the filling into the not-so-hot-now crust:

Adding filling to crust

Really easy to do

Use a spatula or other tool to smooth out the top:

Cheesecake with smoothed top

It will freeze like that, so it’s important.

Back into the freezer:

Cheesecake in freezer

Almost ready

The book says 15 minutes in the freezer to “firm up,” or an hour in the fridge. Your choice. I usually leave it for more than an hour, but of course, it’s hard as a rock.

BF had to repair this hinge for me because one day I pulled out the rivets with a frozen cheesecake:

Rivets in cheesecake hinge

Yes, I broke it, and he fixed it.

But generally, it pops right out:

Releasing cheesecake from pan

It usually just separates when the pan expands.

The Faster Cheesecake

This is what you end up with:

Cheesecake on pan

Isn’t it lovely? All nice and neat!

Because I consume this cheesecake a sliver at a time, I cut it in quarters first:

Cutting into the cheesecake

Mine is a bit frozen, so it’s a little difficult

 

Cheesecake cut in quarters

Makes it easier

And then with a smaller knife, I cut a slice out:

Slice of cheesecake on plate with fork

Ta-dah!!

It really is that easy and that good. You could eat the whole cheesecake if you wanted to (even I can’t do that) but it’s very rich and delicious, so you don’t need much.

BF said he had a small bit of it when I wasn’t looking, and he agrees that it’s quite delicious. I’ve served a bit to one of his car-guy friends who has been here for dinner several times (because he was here at the right time.) He was quite impressed because I did warn him it was gluten-free and sugar-free.

Other Cheesecake Notes

The first thing I should mention is that in order to make the cheesecake quickly and make sure the filling comes out smooth is to leave the cream cheese out for a good long while.

My suggestion is a minimum of four hours. But if you’re making a cheesecake after work, just take it out of the fridge and leave it on the stove in the morning and get to it when you’re ready. If you want to make it first thing in the morning and have it at dinner that night, take leave the cream cheese out all night.

Make sure that if you have critters, they can’t reach the cream cheese packets. Never mind how I know that. You probably don’t need to leave it out for two days as I do sometimes. Unintentionally.

Use ONLY fresh lemon juice for this, or lime, as I’ve done a few times. If you use lemon extract, you will regret it. Immediately. Nevermind how I know this.

Conclusion: Cheesecake Is Delicious

I’ve added both of these to the Recipes page, as well as the recipe for El Chico’s Chorizo, which I intended to add at the time of the post and apparently forgot.

I also took the opportunity to do a bit of updating on the recipes page, and it’s a little easier to find things now.

If you really like cheesecake, there is no end to the recipes you can find online. Check Pinterest, AllRecipes, do a Google search, or any website you prefer, recipes are available with a few clicks. Whether you want gluten-free, low-carb, dairy-free, or you want the best cheesecake there is, go looking for it, you’ll find it. (I just can’t vouch for them all!)

Cheesecake, Slow Cooker Style

Remember my slow cooker post a few years ago when I made a low-carb chocolate custard? Slow cooking expert Stephanie O’Dea has two recipes on her website for cheesecake, one standard type, and one for pumpkin cheesecake. Both can be made anytime–canned pumpkin is available year-round in the grocery store, likely on the bottom shelf.

Stephanie’s aren’t keto, but if keto isn’t your thing, that’s OK too. I’m thinking maybe a pumpkin cheesecake if we meet up with BF’s family at his Dad’s place up the road. I brought what he calls the waffled  “Awful Falafel” to Thanksgiving last year and loved watching him cringe when his sister, brother-in-law and sister-in-law enjoyed it. That’s what he gets for yakking to his friend in San Diego about my “horrible” cooking. I’m sure a pumpkin cheesecake might be a welcome addition this year, too.

The “Keto House”

On a related note, Jen Fisch’s first book was highly successful and allowed her to buy and renovate a house in Arizona. It’s now available to rent on AirBnB and Homeaway, a beautiful desert oasis that makes me want to plan a trip with BF sometime. It’s big, so we could go with several people, but maybe I just want to go with him, too.

That’s a ways off right now, but darnit, it’s a goal!

That’s all for now. More tasty food coming.

Happy Dining!

 

 

 

 

 

Cut garde lettuce with grape tomatoes
June Updates And Hatch Chiles

Finally some news, including Hatch chiles, sort of.

Hi, again, Dear Readers:

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Well, it’s summer again, and you know what happened. I’ve been writing, cooking, washing, and cleaning, and generally not blogging. For three weeks, the blog was actually broken. Finally, I created a service ticket for my hosting service, and they fixed it quickly.

After finishing the post on the John Walton Celebration of Life, a little catching up is in order.

Copywriting Updates

My new copywriting website is still not finished. It’s one of those big, hairy things I don’t want to deal with, but I have to, eventually.

The good news is that my Upwork Job Success Score (JSS) just went back up to 100%.

UpworkProfilePicAt1002020

I did it again.

I also finally finished two certifications from Digital Marketer: one for SEO (Search Market Mastery), the other for Content Marketing.  The SEO course is the one that I’d been fiddling with for over a year, and Content Marketing was the other one I wanted.

 

Content Marketing Badge

Search Marketing Specialist

These will be added to the new website. . .eventually.

Because Digital Marketer had a hard-stop ending on the free access on April 15th, I had to finish them ASAP. Nothing like a deadline to make you complete something, right? Well, I almost didn’t get the SEO finished because there was a bug on their website that gave me an error message when I went to take the test. Finally, it was fixed, and I was able to finish the certification. I did the content marketing course in two days, and I have notes and handouts and downloads to refer to.

World Gone Mad

I’ve got to be careful about how I phrase this next section. My hosting company sent out an email in March that included a comment on how they were removing *those* disease-related search terms from their domain search tool so that nobody could set up a website to take advantage of the situation, including alleged and likely fake  “cures.” So, here goes.

Last time I wrote a blog post that bug was just affecting some folks on a cruise ship overseas. Now it’s a worldwide thing that has seen all manner of disasters, including economic. While people are starting to emerge from their homes, many because they can’t stand it anymore, the powers that be are continuing to scramble to try and find the right answers.

Part of our preparations included some panic shopping at Walmart for “essentials.” However, what he considers “essential” and what I consider “essential” are frequently not the same. But we were able to get some foodstuffs to pack up under the counter. They’re packed in boxes along with some other foodstuffs that were given to us from BF’s Dad’s house when his sister cleared out some things in favor of “low-sodium” for their Dad to help lower his blood pressure.

Everyone needs cans of chili with beans, right? (Don’t forget the Gas-X!) I added some cans of salmon, which BF wouldn’t touch. For a while, we couldn’t get canned tuna or salmon at all. There were also nationwide shortages of things like yeast, flour, cleaning supplies, and those were evident here. BF was concerned about not being able to get bread, so I bought an extra bag of flour. . .but there was no yeast. I have some in the pantry that I brought from Houston, but that was it. Might be good, might not be, but I haven’t tried proofing it yet. When I found some, I bought it.

We’ve kept ahead of the game on the most coveted item, toilet paper.

Managing The Pandemic

Louisiana has been one of the states with higher rates of cases, but as of this writing, the fatality rate is about 6%, and the recovery rate is high. (I did the math, so be proud of me.) We are fortunate to be in one of the outlying parishes that’s close to the Mississippi border. Our parish has seen a total of 58 presumptive cases, and one fatality due to the bug.

Jefferson, Orleans, and St. Tammany have seen the greatest numbers of cases and deaths, with all 64 parishes now reporting infections. The New Orleans Advocate has a page that’s updated daily with the latest numbers, and the Houston Chronicle also has regular updates for Houston and for Texas.

The most awesome Dr. Sakina Davis at Woodlands Wellness recently had a Zoom call with some of us interested folks to talk about not only what it was, but how to defend yourself against *it* with supplements, healthy eating, and of course, getting some sun as well as supplementing with Vitamin D. I greatly appreciated that. I had to get some Vit C from them, and got a couple of bottles of their very posh-smelling hand sanitizer as well. (I have the most incredible hand sanitizer for miles around!) Another thing: turn off the TV and don’t have a steady diet of “news.”

And if that isn’t enough, it’s now hurricane season. Tropical Storm Cristobal was the first storm to come this way. We just had some rain, nothing serious.

It’s Jumanjij Level 6! 

We’re starting to come out on the other side of the pandemic, and slowly, places are reopening around the US.  We’ve been to our local Tex-Mex place, La Carreta, once, and have bought curbside takeout from them twice. They’ve reopened with masks on servers. We’ve not been to any of the other local places, which have since reopened, including BF’s favorite Cracker Barrel in Hammond. Yet. But eventually, we all hope to get back to some kind of normalcy.

Trending Egg Bites: Starbucks Leads

Once again the Big Green Coffee Company of Seattle leads the way in trends. First, it was the much-lauded (and maligned) Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL, complete with 50 grams of sugar). Now, they’re leading with their famed egg bites.

I’ve done egg bites in the Instant Pot, but they’re a bit of trouble and I’ve not made them in a while. (I even bought two of those silicone egg molds to do make them in.)

Egg bites in red mold

Aren’t they cute? Right out of the pot.

Egg bites are quite popular for a lot of reasons, and it’s probably the one thing I buy the most when I visit Starbucks, other than coffee. 

Cooked egg bites in red dish

Ready for breakfast!

They’re now considered an “emerging food trend,” meaning that everyone is getting on the bandwagon after Starbucks started it. Finally, you’ll soon be able to get egg bites in your grocers’ freezer case. Organic Valley will begin shipping frozen egg bites to stores in late July with an MSRP of $3.99 a pack. Nestle and Valley Fine Foods will soon follow with their own brands.

NOTE: Starbucks has begun to re-open their stores, but our Hammond store has a drive-thru curbside service, Although the store is actually open, there is no seating. You can just go to the counter and pick up your order or hit the powder room (I think.) They aren’t allowing seating outside under the patio, either.

PJ’s Coffee

Understand that when I first got here, the center of my universe in Hammond was the Starbucks on St. Thomas. I was very surprised to see a PJ’s in our town, right by Winn-Dixie, and that was a small comfort. It still is, and both have free WiFi.

Admittedly, I only visit Starbucks sporadically, usually, when I’m going to Hammond anyway, or if I’m headed to New Orleans. If there are extra points to be had or some other kind of “special” reason to go, I might make a trip and hit Target at the same time. I’ve utilized the mobile app ordering, and it worked fine.

Mostly, though, I’ve been going to our local PJ’s Coffee on Fridays, ordering their $1-any-size hot coffees through the drive-through and adding a bigger tip or the folks working there.

The cafe just re-opened a couple of weeks ago. But I was doing what was asked, helping out by going through the drive-thru to keep them in business throughout the shutdowns. 

BF and I went through one day and I got him a delicious breakfast croissant. A couple of times, I bought BF a double-chocolate muffin, including one for his birthday. He was happy with that. We also bought a gift card to help keep our PJ’s in business, and I’ve just started using the money on it. Their drive-thru has been quite busy so I guess it worked.

Like a lot of fast-food places, PJ’s has been following the guidelines set out by the CDC and the State of Louisiana. They just re-opened the local cafe a couple of weeks ago, with limited indoor seating and the same abbreviated hours. There is also a bigger PJ’s in Hammond, but not near Starbucks, although I haven’t been to that one in a while. Situated next to military recruiting offices, they have a second-floor seating area, and also offer lunch items. They too have abbreviated hours, but chances are, the same as ours.

PJ’s also offers discounts to military personnel and veterans, at least here. That’s a plus for BF, except that he doesn’t drink coffee.

But guess what? PJ’s is, through expansion and franchising, moving into other states, including Texas! I couldn’t believe how many PJ’s there are now around the US. California? Maryland? Georgia? Arkansas? Alabama? I had no idea. There is one “coming soon” to Katy, TX, and I notified longtime Boeing brother RR to be on the lookout. There is also a location in Pearland, which is kind of near Miss Alice, but also might be somewhere in the path of the GER. I let him know about it, and that it is a great alternative to Starbucks (his least favorite place.)

Could PJ’s become the new go-to place for coffee and topple the reigning coffee empire? It’s possible. You could find a PJ’s in your neighborhood one day soon.

The HeatCageKitchen Garden, 2020

Partly in response to the worldwide crisis, BF decided we needed to step up our homesteading game at the Casa de Rurale. I just say it’s about time.

After gardening in buckets, small patches of land, and getting some “toilet-tank tomatoes” two summers ago, we now have a more formal garden. I’ve already made two batches of fresh pesto for the freezer, which he is, as always, unhappy about.

Basil plants

Basil is back, and there is more to come.

The plant on the right has already been cut for both pesto and for cloning. I’ve got to plant those rootlings soon and get them out of the window. I’ll fill the chest freezer with pesto for the winter, or I’ll end up giving some away. Now to figure out what to do with the burgeoning tarragon. I’ll start with a compound butter for chicken.

Tarragon with ruler measuring 12 inches high

What am I going to do with all that?

Our neighbor across the street, Mr. JD, brought over his tractor and dug up some land for us in front of the shop, and we’ve been planting and planting again. Some things don’t work but we keep trying. We’ve planted a number of things, some of which are actually doing quite well. Right now we have actively growing:

  • Corn
  • Potatoes, including some from the grocery store we let bud
  • Green beans
  • Cucumbers
  • Watermelon
  • Zucchini
  • Radishes
  • Tarragon
  • Basil
  • Lettuce:
    • Gourmet
    • Iceberg
  • Tomatoes:
    • Yellow teardrop
    • Chocolate cherry, from seeds I saved in 2015 in Houston (no tomatoes yet)
  • Mexican Oregano
  • Peppers
    • Purple bell peppers
    • Shishito peppers (a small, sweet pepper from Japan)
    • Poblanos
    • “Coolapenos,” a variety of jalapenos without the heat
    • Anaheim chili peppers, aka, Hatch

 

Between the plants and the seeds, there have been some that were successful, and some disappointments. We just keep planting stuff and hope it works.

The agreement with Mr. JD was that we would share the harvest, and that’s fine. But when I picked the first of the bounty, three French breakfast radishes, he never stopped by for them. So I washed them and ate them:

Three French Breakfast Radishes

They are gorgeous, yes?

Note: eat radishes right after picking. I’ve planted more, and they’re coming up quickly. I’ve got both French Breakfast radishes and some older seeds of some other type, and both are growing.

The Anaheim, or Hatch, Chili Pepper Plant

Remember a couple of years ago I did some reading into Hatch chiles? Well, I am finally getting some from the garden, after three years of trying to grow the darn things from saved seeds from Hatch seasons past. They’re not exactly Hatch chiles, but they’re pretty much the same thing.

I’m convinced this was a mistake, but our local Tractor Supply had Anaheim “Hatch” chili pepper plants about two months ago, and I got the last one. I keep going back to see if they’ve received any more, but nothing yet.

Anaheim Hatch chili pepper plant with pepper

Looking forward to more of these

At the moment, there are four small peppers in various stages of growth, and I’ve got four in the fridge. I’m planning to roast them soon, and save the seeds. I used the first two peppers to try and plant more–get a load of these: 

Two Anaheim Hatch chili peppers on red cutting board with knife

The first two Hatch peppers that were used to try and regrow more peppers

Miss Raylina, who works at our local Tractor Supply and puts up with my harassment about “setting up the coffee bar,”  told me how to plant any pepper. It’s simple: cut it in half lengthwise and fill the cavity–seeds and all–with soil. Then bury the dirt-filled pepper in your garden. The seeds will germinate and feed off the flesh of the pepper while growing. Simple, right?

I really want more of these peppers this summer, so I’m willing to sacrifice the first two for the greater good of the garden (and give me more “Hatch” peppers, darn it.) But nothing yet. I’ll be saving the seeds out of these during the summer to try and grow Hatch chiles again next year.

But so far, nothing yet. At least we have New Mexico’s harvest in August, at which time I will be able to harvest more of the Hatch chile seeds for next year.

More Garden Pictures

Of course, Anaheim “Hatch” chili peppers aren’t the only thing we’ve got going on. BF insisted on growing corn and potatoes because that’s what his Dad always grew when they were kids. Mind you, BF just turned 50, has been married twice, owned a house once, but has never had a garden of his own. So far, the corn is doing well, with just one stalk knocked over a bit when Cristobal passed through:

Corn stalks growing

These are about six feet high

 

Up-close shot of corn on the stalk

Looks like we will be having plenty of corn on the cob soon, whether we want it or not.

How can we incorporate Hatch chiles in with corn? Well, for starters, do it when BF isn’t around.

Because the little yellow teardrop plant didn’t seem to be doing well, I went ahead and moved it. I figured if it was going to die anyway, I might as well try and give it a fighting chance. Not exactly a bumper crop, but it’s a start: 

Small tomato plant

There it is! One little tomato.

Earlier this year I found three bell pepper plants called Tequila. They turn purple when ripe, not red. I thought it was interesting so I bought a flat of three. Well, one plant didn’t make it, one is still in the shadow of the bigger one and needs moving, even though it’s got one pepper growing on it. But the big plant has three purple peppers, in various stages of ripeness.

Tequila bell peppers

You won’t find these at HEB, Rouse’s, Publix, or Walmart.

Interesting, yes? And then there are the Shishito peppers:

Shishito pepper

Ever heard of these? Me either until recently.

I only saw Ina Garten make these on her show recently, and apparently it’s also in her last book. (Giada de Laurentiis also has a recipe for them.) When I saw the plants at Tractor Supply, I bought two. One is doing better than the other, so I’ll be trying them out when they get bigger. Surprise! One of them is going to be HOT.

Have you ever heard of someone being overrun with zucchini? That hasn’t happened to us yet, we’ve only gotten two off this plant.

Zucchini plant

The leaves are as big as dinner plates.

And because the leaves are so big, I may have to move the oregano–again.

Zucchini growing

That’s the next one that I’ll harvest. They seem to double in size overnight.

BF doesn’t eat them, so of course, I’ll be happily feasting on them soon. Zucchini noodles, and preserved zucchini are right on my list.

We’ve also had blackberries growing wild, but BF has never told me how to cultivate them. (Mr. JD said they were “dewberries,” but whatever–they’re delicious.) I gathered berries every day during the brief season, and I have about two quarts in the freezer. That’s the berries left from when I go out berry-picking with the now 80-pound pit bull. We eat berries together. He loves them, right off the vine. I also drop them into his huge, muscular mouth for him to enjoy.

Salad Greens And Other Ingredients

I love salads, and I have long wished to be able to walk outside, pick my salad, walk back inside, wash everything, cut and toss everything into a bowl. I’ve sort of done that twice so far, but there were no cucumbers yet, and I bought some grape tomatoes at Winn-Dixie:

Cut garden lettuce with grape tomatoes

This was so delicious with a simple oil-and-vinegar dressing and a touch of salt.

I think I may have dipped into the remaining stash I have of Meyer Lemon EVOO and Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar from Oil & Vinegar in The Woodlands. Just this once, it was a special occasion. But this salad didn’t need much. Those bottles have been at the top corner of the pantry behind everything. BF has strict orders to never touch it, but he probably won’t anyway.

I miss that place. I wonder if they ship.

I tried to grow Romaine lettuce in Houston but was always unsuccessful. The GER told me once that lettuce is a “winter crop,” which put me right off trying again.  One day I had a nice big leaf growing, and an hour later, a slug took it out.

Then I moved. Here, we’ve grown some “gourmet” lettuce as well as what doesn’t really look much like iceberg lettuce, but is quite tasty.

Green and red lettuce growing

I was quite surprised that this grew as well as it did. Then I cut it for salad.

The seed for the iceberg lettuce moved when it rained or I watered, so it’s in an odd place. I might try to move it again soon, or move both lettuces away from the outer part of the garden plot so they’ll grow better. There’s a reason for that.

Iceberg lettuce growing

It’s re-growing after being clipped. Again.

See, I did sprout some Romaine and some celery in the kitchen recently, but they disappeared after I planted them outside. Not died–disappeared. BF said it looked like either deer, possums, raccoons or some other nocturnal creatures came to feast and dug them out of the ground. Without one of those outdoor cams, we have no way of knowing. I’m not 100% sure I want to know what’s going on outside with Mother Nature, anyway.

We also planted cucumbers, which, along with watermelon, are threatening to take over the lawn.

Cucumber and watermelon growing

They’re everywhere!

You’ve got to check those cucumbers regularly–if they turn yellow, they’re awful. I know this because the GER grew cucumbers once, and we missed one. He found the yellow “ripe” one, and of course, I had to try it. NOPE! So I’m on them daily for the ones that are ready to pick. If I see some yellow, they get harvested.

No watermelons yet, but we’ll be enjoying those hopefully later in the summer.

I do keep watering and pulling ever-present indigenous weeds out of the plot. There’s some over-grown grass to be removed as well, and I take out some every morning when I water. At some point, I hope to do a mass removal of everything and get some of that black fabric to put over the ground to keep the weeds from getting sun. Fingers crossed.

Books, Books, And More Books

Callisto Press has blessed me with oodles of books since last July. The variety of topics include:

  • Weight lifting
  • Wine, spirits, and cocktails
  • Professional poker
  • Aromatherapy (three books, but I’m not allowed to do that in the house)
  • Spells for new witches (I kid you not, it was interesting)
  • The Law Of Attraction
  • CBD 
  • Weight training/fitness
  • Cannabis edibles (not legal here)
  • Successful aging and retirement
  • Fung shui
  • Essential oils
  • Visualization
  • Multiple cookbooks, including:
    • Italian cooking
    • French cooking and baking
    • Scandanavian baking
    • Baking, including cakes and donuts
    • Sauces
    • Barbecue and grilling, including sauces
    • “Five-Ingredient” cookbooks
    • “For two” cookbooks
    • Quick-cooking, 30 minutes or less, including “healthy”
    • Desserts
    • Instant Pot cooking
    • Air Fryer cooking
    • Slow cooking
  • Gardening (including urban gardening)
  • Convection oven cooking
  • Dehydrator recipes
  • Cooking for your dog (absolute truth, including recipes for “doggie date nights” for you and the pup)
  • Psychology in different forms, including three “couples” books and one on “willpower”
  • Sleeping (and how much sleep have I lost reading them? None.)
  • Cookbooks for pecific diets, including:
    • Vegetarian/Vegan
    • Keto (including vegetarian)
    • Pescatarian
    • Dairy-Free
    • Gluten-Free
    • Sugar-free
    • Thyroid disorders
    • Intermittent fasting
    • Lowfat
    • Mediterranean (I have three, including one for Keto)

And that’s just the ones I’ve been able to put my hands on just now.

Amazingly, we’ve found a few new “winners” for me to make again, with two thumbs up from BF. This includes one called Roasted Calabrian Chicken, which I made last week. It was really just chicken and diced potatoes with some dried oregano, fresh rosemary, and (don’t tell him!) a squeeze of lemon juice, on a sheet pan in the countertop oven. Needed to cook the potatoes longer, though. Next one is an air fryer recipe with. . .chicken and diced potatoes. The potatoes go into the bottom, and the chicken goes on top on a little rack. Maybe next week.

How Many Books?

Honest, I have no idea. I haven’t counted or organized them yet. They’ve been coming hot and heavy since last July, and until they started limiting people to four books, I got as many as seven at once. I have given a couple of them away as Christmas gifts, and some may be donated to the library eventually.

I need a new bookshelf now, and I’ll have to organize them accordingly. That means BF will be moving some of his boxes of ju. . .I mean, things, for me to put the bookshelf up. I plan to put a nice china cabinet up next to the bookshelf one day, preferably from IKEA, but that’s going to be a while yet.

I wondered if I would need more bookcases. And then one day, it became e-books. I’m guessing it’s because of the expense, but the reason Callisto gave was because of the delivery times. So now it’s about reviewing e-books, and they offer a very short time window for it, too.

I’ve sent one or two of these e-books to Miss Alice in Houston since she’s now vegetarian, a gift from Hurricane Harvey.

I do appreciate all the physical books they’ve sent me (and now, some of my writer friends) to read and review, and will keep them in their own bookcase. LOTS of delicious food in these books as well as really good info, which I hope to digest before my 90th birthday.

I missed two books out of the last batch of physical books that I really wanted, so I’ve got them on my Amazon wish list. I’ll try to fit them in my next Amazon order (whenever that is.) One was a 3-ingredient cocktail book, the other another “for two” kind of thing.  Oh, well–they’re not expensive.

What’s Next?

I’m a good six months late on this, but I think the next post will be about the cheesecakes. KJ is impatiently waiting for me to write it up, and I need to blog a little more regularly anyway. Plus I’ve got to tell you about the air fryer and the Instant Pot that’s taking up way too much room on the countertop. At least when I use it I can “let R2D2 handle dinner.”

Please take care of yourself, wash your hands, take necessary precautions, and stay far and away from trouble. It’s everywhere, lurking around corners. I’ll be back soon with more delicious recipes to share.

Enjoy!

 

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