Zucchini is one of those plants that overloads gardens. I was gifted some recently, and didn’t make zucchini bread. Plus a tribute to the late Suzanne Somers, RIP.
Hello again, Dear Readers:
It’s been a month, and I apologize. I’ve got several things to tell you, but I’ll have to limit that in this blog.
Finally, fall has arrived, and the temperatures have gone below 100 degrees every day. So far, our highs have been in the mid-80s, but we’ve had some chillier weather than that. It doesn’t last too long, but it’s enough to make us turn the heater at night sometimes.
Following last month’s trip to Trader Joe’s, one of my copywriting clients’ project managers BN told me that she was able to get some of Trader Joe’s coveted pumpkin spice body butter. She lives in coastal Florida, and apparently near a Trader Joe’s that’s not near LSU or other place with college students. I am so jealous! Well, OK, just a little jealous. I am enjoying the body scrub, though.
Much has happened since my last post.
Come and Knock On Our Door. . . .
By now, you’ve heard the sad news that Suzanne Somers has passed away from an aggressive form of breast cancer. She was an actress, author, gourmet cook, health advocate, entrepreneur, and businesswoman. I was a huge fan, and I still am, but did not know the lady personally. Long-time readers know that I have and love all her cookbooks, along with several of her other books. I know there are a few of her books that I don’t have, but I should probably get and read. We don’t have Half Price Books here, so I can’t get them cheap anymore.
She passed one day before her 77th birthday, holding her husband’s hand. Her family was at the house to celebrate her birthday with her. They had a beautiful heart-shaped purple cake made for her with lots of white piping.
Her husband and business partner of more than 50 years, Alan Hamel, and her son, Bruce, along with family members, lit candles and blew them out in a short video posted to Instagram on her birthday (Monday October 16th. ) Just prior to the birthday cake video, Alan and Bruce did a 14-minute interview with Entertainment Tonight about her passing, her legacy, her love of cake, and how they will move forward and keep her legacy going. If you have a few minutes, give it a watch.
Many people only know Suzanne Somers as an actress, primarily as Chrissy Snow from Three’s Company. The show is still in reruns, and there is currently a channel on streaming service Pluto TV that runs the show 24/7. I’ve watched a few of them this week. If you’re interested, you don’t have to register, you can start watching either live TV or on-demand on your smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop, smart TV, or Roku. (You may be able to watch it on an Amazon Fire Stick, but I don’t know.)
Note: Pluto has plenty of classic TV shows to watch, including a channel of The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson. Hint: He’s still funny, especially if you remember the events he’s talking about in his monologue. I haven’t seen one yet where Suzanne Somers is on, but there are three on YouTube, plus a number of more recent clips.
Of course, there were more acting roles later, plus stints in Las Vegas, a Broadway show called The Blonde in the Thunderbird, and most recently, a stint on Dancing With The Stars in 2015. Never mind that she was a headliner in Las Vegas, danced and sang on TV and in USO shows, not to mention the legions of her longtime fans like me who repeat-dial voted for her on the show. She was voted off rather quickly, which I thought was, well, not nice. But her performances are all on YouTube, and her partner on the show, Tony Dovolani, also spoke with ET after she passed.
The Business of Suzanne Somers
Beyond her acting, She was also an author of 27 books, many of them best sellers. The last one I have was her book called Two’s Company, on her 50-plus year long relationship with her husband, Canadian talk show host Alan Hamel. She discusses a wide range of topics related to their relationship, including the business side of being “Suzanne Somers.” It’s truly a family business with nearly everyone involved in some fashion.
Over the years Suzanne sold a wide range of products on her website besides the obvious. For several years she had some lovely violet serving dishes named after her granddaughter Violet. She had small kitchen appliances, including a bread maker, a hand mixer (I still have mine and it works great), an ice cream maker, a small countertop convection rotisserie oven, a stovetop pressure cooker (this was before the Instant Pot) a deep fryer, an ice shaver, and several other things I can’t remember now. They are well-made, of course, but they still remind me of Suzy Homemaker appliances.
The books, the famous (or infamous) Thighmaster (yes, I have one), the 3Way Poncho (I have a few, and they are still available from some vendors as well as resellers eBay and Mercari) and a wide range of food, supplements and other products on her own website, SuzanneSomers.com. Her products aren’t cheap, but they aren’t rubbish, either. I was a big fan of SomerSweet, but as I wrote about several years ago, that’s gone now, and Swerve can be used in its place.
I’ll be making my birthday cake from Suzanne’s Desserts book this week. Instead of SomerSweet, of course, I’ll be using Swerve. And we’ll have a slice to celebrate the lady who did it all with grace, right up to the end.
So, last week, BF came home with a bag full of great big zucchini and two crookneck squash, and said, “T says hi.” That’s one of his car guy friends, and apparently knew I would appreciate them. Because BF doesn’t eat anything called squash, including zucchini, spaghetti, or acorn, my favorites, and will let me know about it immediately.
I can only wish I had such an abundance of zucchini that I had to give it away. But I’m happy to accept the wonderful gift of excess from those fortunate enough to have such a nice garden surplus. One of these days, I keep telling BF, we’re going to have a fantastic garden from which we enjoy a great harvest.
Here’s how it ties into the late Suzanne Somers.
My first thought was to make some zucchini noodles from Suzanne Somers’ Fast & Easy book (the purple one.) I haven’t made that in a very long time, and it’s simple. Cut the ends off the zucchini, then use a vegetable peeler to make long, thin ribbons. When you get too far in to keep using the peeler, just thinly slice the remainder with a sharp knife on a cutting board until you’re done. Cook in a skillet with a little olive oil, salt and pepper until they’re just done. Delicious.
You can cook as many zucchinis this way as you like at once. Eat them as is, or add them to any kind of pasta sauce you like. Fast & Easy was published before the veggie noodle makers became popular, and in a later book she uses zucchini “noodles” made from her own Su-Chef appliance. It wasn’t available for long, apparently, and it isn’t even available on eBay or Mercari, but I did find a picture.
I Thought About Her
As I took the book off the shelf, I wondered how Suzanne was doing. I remembered that she’d been ill again, but I was sure she would be getting better. Is she writing a new book? There probably won’t be any more cookbooks, I thought, but an important topic, for sure. But I knew it would be an interesting subject, well-researched and well-written, like Tox-Sick. Admittedly, I didn’t get her last book but will source it for my shelves soon.
The next day, BF sent me a message on Facebook Messenger that she’d passed away, one day before her 77th birthday. The breast cancer she’d been fighting for more than 20 years finally overtook her.
The next night, I made a Cappuccino Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake from Get Skinny on Fabulous Food, page 246.
For breakfast one day last week, I made some of Alan’s Fried Eggs In Onion Nests on page 115 for us to enjoy with breakfast. Hint: open the windows and turn on your exhaust fan before you get started cooking the onions.
I also want to purchase Served By Caroline Somers, Suzanne’s daughter-in-law, chief chef, and right-hand-gal in the business for thirty-plus years. Her stepdaughter, Leslie Hamel, is a fashion designer who designed the 3Way Poncho, as well as hundreds of Suzanne’s red-carpet items and many pieces of her clothing lines. I own a few 3Way Ponchos and made some from a Simplicity pattern published shortly after the released. There’s some fabric in my stash that will be perfect to make a couple more.
The Rest: Zucchini Sotolio
I only cooked that one zucchini on Saturday night, because I had a plan for the rest of them. I’ve done this before, but just never quite got around to posting the recipe. This recipe is *not* from Suzanne Somers, but from TV chef Giada de Laurentiis. It’s on page 226 of Giada’s Italy: My Recipes For La Dolce Vita, called Zucchini Sotolio. It’s not difficult, and it’s a great way to make those garden extras last a bit longer.
First, you cut the zucchini into 1/3” rounds. Drop them in the colander, sprinkle salt over them, and let them sit for ten minutes.
But because I was sitting with BF, it ended up more like 30 minutes. But the salt seasons them nicely.
While that’s going on, boil up 1½ cups of water and 1½ cups of apple cider vinegar in a big pot.
Now, open up a window, (or turn on the exhaust fan) because it’s going to smell in your kitchen and your house if you don’t. Trust me on this, I speak from experience here. Especially with someone around like BF who can’t stand the smell of vinegar at all.
Add in your sliced zucchini and turn the heat down to a simmer:
Cook the slices for about five minutes, until they’re cooked but not mushy and overdone.
If you have as much as I was given, you’ll need to cook them in batches.
Then take them out:
And put them into a bowl.
You may find they’re still kind of watery, so you might want to drain that off too. Add in the mint leaves, basil leaves, chopped garlic:
And a tablespoon more of apple cider vinegar:
Toss the zucchini to mix in the rest of the ingredients. Leave them to cool for a little while.
And here comes the fun part: cover them with olive oil:
The recipe calls for extra-virgin olive oil, but I didn’t have enough. So, I just used regular olive oil.
When you have enough oil, pack them in jars or just store them in the fridge in a tightly sealed container:
This is a container I like to use for the freezer, with a rubber gasket in the lid and snapping closure tabs.
This delicious recipe will stay in your fridge for about three weeks. Serve them at room temperature. Giada says that having a jar or two of this around means you’ll always have a “quick side.” It’s also good as a starter or part of an antipasto spread. Got eggplant? It works here too, just grill the eggplant first. (No, I still hate eggplant.)
Here’s the recipe if this looks like something you’d like to try soon.
- 1¼ pounds zucchini sliced into ⅓ inch rounds (about 3 small zucchini)
- 1¼ tsp kosher salt
- 1½ cups apple cider vinegar plus one tablespoon for the end
- 10 fresh mint leaves
- 10 fresh basil leaves
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (Amy's note: optional)
- 2 to 3 cups extra-virgin olive oil (Amy's note: I used regular this time)
- Place the sliced zucchini in a colander that is set over a bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and toss well to combine. Allow the zucchini to sit for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine 1½ cups of water with 1½ cups of apple cider vinegar and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the salted zucchini to the pot and return the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the zucchini is cooked through but still has a little texture. Drain the zucchini and place it in a large bowl.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar, the mint, basil, garlic and red pepper flakes to the zucchini, and toss well. Add enough olive oil to cover the zucchini and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. Pack the zucchini in jars or a storage container with a tight-fitting lid, making sure the zucchini is fully covered with the oil. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Serve at room temperature.
Fancy another cuppa?
I’ve got another tea blog coming, but I’m not saying anything just yet. But it will be interesting—and very strong.
Welcome to 2023! Yes, another year. What are you going to do, go back to the ’80s? Not happening. Embrace 2023 for what it is, and hope that it’s going to get better. (Yes, the Amazon affiliate links are live.)
Hello Again, Dear Readers:
Happy New Year! We made it to another year, and more importantly, through another holiday season. Anytime you can make it through a difficult time, I say, raise a glass and toast yourself. Even if it’s milk. The holidays are difficult for a handful of reasons, even though most people wouldn’t admit to it.
I realize that it has been more than six weeks since my last blog post, and for that, I apologize. This post has been sitting in the draft folder and I’ve been picking at it for more than a week. I have a couple of blog posts planned about our trip to Houston back in November, I just haven’t been able to sit down and finish them. Since we got back, we’ve had a lot happen, much of it boring.
We Got Sick, Again
I don’t know what the heck happened, but we caught some kind of bug not long after we returned and were laid up for a few days. I was coughing for at least a couple more weeks after it was over. We’re OK, and we didn’t need a doctor, just time to let it run its course.
I posted about it on Facebook, and a lady up north said that in her doctor’s office, they were seeing a lot of people with a “cold they just can’t kick.” Coughing was included, so I presumed we had the same “super-cold” we’d been reading about.
Of course, that set everything back more than a couple of days, too.
We made it through the holiday freeze just fine and did not lose power. However, others were not so fortunate. We were ready with our space heaters and other preparations just like we did for the last one nearly two years ago. Fortunately, we had nothing to worry about. But you never know with these things. We realized that we were much more fortunate than others. We got cold, but not “Buffalo cold.” That is, Buffalo NY, where things literally froze over.
Multiple stories of everyday heroism emerged from Buffalo. One described how a lady and her boyfriend brought home a 64-year-old man to keep him from freezing to death. She didn’t have to do that, but she did, and saved his life. She was able to notify his family and get him to a hospital, where he was later reunited with his family.
But the cold didn’t stop me from doing a little cookie baking for friends:
That’s Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Christmas Cookie recipe from Nigella Christmas. I dropped off two batches during the day on Christmas Eve, then visited an elderly couple that evening to drop off the rest. Ended up helping them out a little more than we expected, but that’s OK, we were glad to help them. The recipe always comes out just right. Not all of them came out perfectly round, so there was some “quality control” involved. Thanks, Honey.
At Thanksgiving, Winn-Dixie had turkeys on sale if you belong to their Rewards program. We bought a 16-pound turkey for under $8.
Because it was just us, we decided to cut the turkey into parts and just cook half and freeze the rest. Known as spatchcocking, we cut the backbone out first, then cut through the breastbone, separating the two sides and freezing one of the breast parts. We also separated one of the leg quarters with a wing and froze that too. Mostly, we just needed it to fit into Ziploc bags.
Thankfully BF was home on Thanksgiving because I needed his help doing this. That bird wasn’t going to split up easily, and he very nearly went out to his workshop and got his Sawzall reciprocating saw to cut through the bones. I think I would need to set up the tripod to record that incident because there’s no way anyone would believe it. Especially the attending physician in the emergency room. Fortunately, we got the bird cut into parts with great difficulty and without incident.
I still can’t find turkey thighs here. I really want to buzz back to HEB and buy a case for our freezer. Maybe one day. Or at least the Rouses or Whole Foods in Baton Rouge.
For Christmas, we had another part of that turkey. (There’s a leg quarter and wing still frozen. Maybe for Easter?) I also gave BF a DVD of the old Mel Brooks film, History of the World, Part 1.
He’s a fan of Brooks’ earlier films but had never seen this one. Immediately, he cracked open the wrapper and sat down to watch the film. He really enjoyed it, and it was all new to him.
What did he get me, you ask? A small but sharp pocketknife. No kidding:
I asked about the reasoning for such a gift. He responded, “because you’re always using mine. It’s for opening all those Amazon packages.” I resent the implication that I order so much from Amazon because I don’t. But anytime I get a package from anywhere, his collection of pocket knives is always on the little table. Now I have my own, and it’s sharp, too.
He never said he was sentimental, and, well, the knife is. . .practical. I still cook him dinner.
Also managed to get one of Starbucks’ delicious Cranberry Bliss Bars this holiday season. They’re more than double the price they were when I first found them in 2007. But as always, there are recipes available for making your own; just pick one.
The one thing I couldn’t leave behind in Houston was this gorgeous t-shirt from HEB:
And I wore it Christmas Day, with an apron while I was cooking. It’s now washed and hanging up for next Christmas. I couldn’t interest BF in the sweaters that Winn-Dixie was selling, half price right before the holidays:
Yes, they really sold these, and marked them down to $14.99 later. I haven’t seen anyone wearing any, though. Maybe the store employees bought them for the freeze. I guess it was a part of their promotion with the “Winn Win Twins.” Don’t ask.
But BF did like this from our local Tractor Supply on sale after Christmas:
Suddenly, BF has a supply of Bigfoot Merch. If ever we exhume BF’s Christmas tree from the back room, we’ll hang that right where it’s visible. It goes with his BigFoot t-shirt and the lovely collection of BigFoot gifts his brother gave him.
The Somewhat Traditional New Year’s
We haven’t really made any resolutions for 2023, so it’s easy to say that we haven’t broken any, too. And we never got to go through the pantry or the back room, despite BF being on vacation for an unexpected two weeks. He planned one vacation week, and somehow, it turned into a second week. He watched quite a lot of TV, especially after I loaned him my older Roku device. Wish I hadn’t done that.
He’s now obsessed with Tubi, Crackle, Peacock, Paramount, The Roku Channel, and other great streaming sources. When he discovered I had the YouTube channel, he threatened to start watching BigFoot videos in my YouTube account so they’d show up in my feed. I very nearly took it away from him right then. I’ll be “repossessing” that device very soon.
Still A Sunday Dinner
As I’ve done in past years, I made Stephanie O’Dea’s wonderful slow-cooker Black Eye Pea Chili for us along with some coleslaw for myself. We can make this chili any time of year, but we only seem to make it at the New Year. Really, it’s tasty anytime and easy to make. I used the Instant Pot for browning the meat, onions, and garlic, removed them, wiped out the cooking pot, then went back to the recipe. Put the glass lid on it, set it to slow cook, and R2-D2 had dinner ready on time.
I froze half of the chili for another time. Otherwise, we were home all day and I got some work done for clients. I think I did a little bit of sewing in the evening, too.
If you are of a mind to make fitness resolutions, Sunny Health and Fitness is having a sale both on their own website and in their Amazon store. Still under $100 is the original Row & Ride, as well as the higher-end version of the same thing. Yes, I still have mine, and I dust it occasionally. I am planning to return to using it regularly, soon as I get a big bottle of Aleve.
Happy Birthday, Broccoli Stirfry
It’s been just about a year since BF brought home this little rodent at the tender age of eight weeks:
Now this derp (aka “weirdo”) weighs 65 pounds.
On his backside, you can see slight colorations from the Catahoula input. He’s still chewing everything in sight, which recently included the remote for BF’s years-old DVD player:
It’s easily replaceable, we just haven’t done that yet. The dog has also chewed wood furniture, a door frame, a roll of electrical tape, the Dash dog treat maker, and a whole bunch of other things he suddenly found within his reach. He’s stopped short of boring a hole in the wall.
You know those winter memes telling you to bring your pets inside, because “if you’re cold, they’re cold?” Broccoli Stirfry doesn’t get that, he wants to play. But we drag him in any way. Generally, when I get near him with the leash, he knows it’s time to stop playing “Stick” or chasing leaves and go back inside. Once I hook him up, he politely walks inside with me.
Because if I don’t hook up that leash, he’ll continue to run high-speed circles around the house and around the property until he falls asleep. And you cat people thought only the felines did “zoomies.” Nope—this guy was trained by a cat:
And paws like one, too.
It’s coming up on a year since BF bought him from a guy he knows through work and brought the little cutie pie home. He loves to tell the guy that he wants his $20 back on the “defective dog.” Nope, he’s all ours, and we’re stuck with him.
Houston IKEA Reconnaissance
During our Houston trip, we paid a visit to the hallmark of Swedishness, IKEA. Still on I-10 at the Antoine-Silber exit, we spent at least three hours checking out everything. The purpose of visiting IKEA was to get an idea of what’s available, and what might be good for the future kitchen whenever we get to do some updating. (It’s not anytime soon.) Planting seeds of ideas, really. I did get some small house things, but there were no big purchases like furniture.
We had lunch in the upstairs café, and my IKEA Family card still got me some free coffee. Before we had lunch, I was able to get something else—a picture of that look BF gets when presented with something he’s not entirely sure of:
I first saw this look when he looked into the pantry after I moved in and he saw it full of stuff he didn’t understand. I showed the picture to one of our local friends and she said, “he looks like he’s getting old! Are you giving him all that grey hair?” Poor BF was way out of his element at first. Eventually, he enjoyed his trip through IKEA Houston.
As you can see, he’s now fully embracing his inner Swede. (No Swedish accent yet.)
Up Next: Valentine’s Day 2023
Valentine’s Day is in about a month. If you’re so inclined, give some thought to a dinner date with your significant other. Dinner out is usually crowded and problematic, so consider dinner at home. This post includes some tasty desserts that would fit the bill. There’s also this small chocolate cake that I tried two years ago. I’ll start asking BF what he’d like to have this year. Hopefully, the entertainment will be better than last year.
And if you and your S/O like the Cranberry Bliss Bars during the holiday season, it wouldn’t be a bad move to make them in February. This copycat recipe suggests heart-shaped cookie cutters.
Williams-Sonoma has its usual collection of heart-shaped and high-end cookware for Valentine’s Day. Of course, they’re not a requirement, but they are pretty to look at for a while. Less expensive models are available on Amazon, like this one from Martha Stewart for $80 and this one from Miamo for $75. If you like that sort of thing.
Should a Galentine’s Day party be on your itinerary—a party just for females to celebrate friendship in lieu of having a partner—start planning now. Nothing wrong with enjoying time with friends.
And if you’re going to be alone for that Tuesday, well, that’s OK too. Been there, done that, and you can either ignore the whole thing or enjoy a nice dinner by yourself in front of the TV, or meet with friends who are also unattached. Have a little chocolate of your choosing while you’re at it. Should Starbucks resurrect the Molten Chocolate Latte, I highly recommend getting one if you’re in the vicinity. Not sure if the bottled version is still available, but with a recipe, you can get one made by request.
Coming In 2023 (Hopefully)
I’m overdue to write about Rafael and Carmen’s beautiful wedding in November, as well as the rest of our Houston trip. I’ll start that soon. They’ll be celebrating their first Valentine’s Day as a married couple this year. Rafael said he was running around on Christmas Eve getting ingredients for Carmen to bake these Cranberry Walnut Oatmeal Cookies on Christmas Day. Aunt Ruth asked for the recipe, so I emailed it to her. I need to try those for BF one of these days, too.
Even though “winter weather” alternates between warm and cold here in the South, don’t put the coats away just yet. Heck, even Florida was freezing at Christmas, and it could happen again. Keep these two soup recipes handy for the day you need something warm for dinner and don’t want to mess with too much. Or if you’re doing Meatless Mondays.
I’m always looking for new and interesting topics, so I’ll be bringing those to you as well. Until then. . . .
Chocolate cake in a single serving is always a good thing, especially when it’s keto. I’ve got a quick and easy chocolate mug cake that you can make and enjoy anytime.
Hi again, Dear Readers:
It’s been over a month since my last blog post, and for that, I apologize. We did a little traveling, and it’s been go-go-go since we got back. Maybe I need to listen to Stephanie O’Dea’s Slow Living Podcast, if I could find the time. I’ll tell you more about our trip in a future blog post.
I intended to post this much earlier. With the Holidays bearing down on us there’s a lot happening for nearly everyone. Things are about to get very busy and complicated for many people. As I was once told by a former supervisor at Boeing, “we’re getting into the time of year where a month is not a month.” For those working in the corporate sector, it means vacations, either yours or someone else’s. Many people will be gone for days, and probably when you need them the most. That’s been my experience, so be forewarned.
But at the Casa de Rurale, we’re debating on whether we want to tackle that backroom area where all the Christmas stuff is stored behind a bunch of other things or leave it for another year. I’m guessing we’re probably going to try later.
Meantime, let me catch you up on our recent happenings.
Before our trip, it was my birthday. I did make a Swerve chocolate keto cake, although we didn’t “do” anything because we had a trip the next week. I made some chocolate buttercream icing from Suzanne Somers’ book Somersize Desserts but using the same 1:1 sweetener you see in this post. Then rushed the process so the icing’s texture was a bit clumpy:
But it was still delicious and we enjoyed a keto/low-carb/Somersized (sort of) chocolate cake. Earlier in the day, I made it to Starbucks for my birthday treat:
The protein box wouldn’t ring up, so it ended up being the drink that was free. I was also running errands so I needed a bite.
The Banana Rat Gets Married
We went to Houston for a few days, finally. It was a short trip with multiple mishaps, but we made it there and back just fine. After hiring a local sitter on the Rover app, we solved the problem of who to ask to take care of things while we were gone.
We couldn’t see everyone and go everywhere, but we did make it to our intended destination and made a few in-person visits. Zoom calls just aren’t the same. It was good to see some folks after so long away. BF was his usual very entertaining self.
The focus of the trip: our favorite web guy, Rafael, aka “Banana Rat,” recently married his longtime partner, Carmen. It was a beautiful wedding at an incredibly gorgeous place called The Springs of Magnolia. The venue is in Magnolia TX, north of Katy, and about a 45-minute drive north from Katy on the Grand Parkway.
Their wedding was at the Stonebridge venue. The actual ceremony was outside, with cocktail hour on the porch including delicious appetizers, then the full reception inside. The building is nestled in a grove of pine trees with fountains and bridges for picturesque views. Pinehaven has a long porch area that goes around the entire building. The weather was perfect, and I’ll tell you more about the wedding and the wonderful food in a future blog post.
Meantime, here’s a picture that Rafael put on social media not long after the wedding.
I managed a selfie with Rafael during the busy reception, too:
We took our own pictures, of course, and were close enough to get some great shots. I’ve since shared them with Rafael, once I figured out the most efficient method to do that. More in a future blog post.
The Double Chocolate Mug Cake
I’m piggybacking on my last blog post about the new book Easy Dirty Keto by Emilie Bailey. I decided to try this recipe after I published that blog. I intended to publish either before we left for Houston, or right after we got back. That didn’t happen. Finally, when I’m caught up a little bit, I have the time to finish up.
To make things easy, I’ll put the printable recipe right here so you can print your own copy. It’s an easy, fast recipe, and it takes just a few minutes. If you don’t have sugar-free chocolate chips on hand, you can skip it—because, let’s face it, you may just snack on the chocolate chips anyway. There’s also an unusual ingredient that you might not be expecting, but it works well here.
Double Chocolate Mug Cake
- 3 tbsp Keto yellow cake mix (from a box) See note below if you don't have a box of this
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 large egg
- 2 tsp water
- 1 tbsp sugar-free chocolate chips
- In a mug, combine cake mix with cocoa powder and mix well. Add mayo, egg, and water; stir well to combine. Mix in the chocolate chips
- Put the mug into the microwave and cook on high for 1 minute to 1 minute and 20 seconds, until the cake is firm but still glossy. If you're using a large mug, you may need to cook for a few more seconds.
- Top as desired and enjoy.
- NOTE: if you do not have a boxed keto cake mix, stir together 2 tablespoons of almond flour, 1 tablespoon of 1:1 granulated sweetener, ¼ teaspoon of baking powder, and a pinch of salt. Mix together, then proceed with Step 1.
Now let me show you how to make one when you just really need some chocolate cake.
How To Make It
Like many of the mug cake recipes you see on Pinterest, Instagram, and other places, there are only two steps here, and the third is optional.
First, you mix the cake mix and the cocoa powder in a cup.
Then add the wet ingredients: mayonnaise, egg, and two teaspoons of water.
Stir it well, then stir in the chocolate chips if you’re using them.
Stir them in:
Next, microwave it on high for one minute to one minute and 20 seconds. Emilie says, “until the cake is firm but still glossy.” A larger mug takes a few more seconds or a microwave that’s not as powerful. I think our microwave takes one minute and 30 seconds to be completely done. Just don’t cook it too long.
At this point, you can sprinkle on a little bit more of the 1:1 sweetener, you could put a little whipped cream on it, or just eat it as is. I usually skip the embellishments because I think it’s fine right out of the microwave. But if you put, say, some sugar-free raspberry preserves on top when it’s done, I won’t judge.
Mayonnaise In Cake?
Yes, you read that right, and I’m guessing Aunt Ruth and Aunt Kathy are nodding their heads in agreement. I’ve heard of it before, but never tried it myself, until now. And, honestly, I thought it was a horrible idea. But Emilie comments in the book that she’s tried multiple recipes for cake in a cup but they tended to be too dry or too “eggy.” The addition of a tablespoon of mayo makes it rich and fudgy, just like a cake should be. You don’t taste the mayo, honest.
No, I haven’t told BF.
You can read more about mayo in cakes in this article on Epicurious’ website with links to other recipes, including this one by BestFoods/Hellman’s using their own mayo. Apparently it’s a “secret ingredient” in chocolate and other cakes that gives it richness and moistness. Here’s another chocolate mayo cake recipe from Taste of Home. Warning: unlike Emilie’s recipe, these cakes aren’t keto, and are both whole cakes.
The Keto Cake Mix Dilemma
Like many people, I haven’t bought much in the way of prepared keto products. There are so many keto things in most grocery stores now. Of course, you must read through everything to know if it really is keto or just something with the “keto” name pasted on it. I’ve seen a few things that claimed to be keto, but they contained wheat or other things in them that disqualified them from being “keto.” But then again, there’s “dirty” keto, too, but I don’t want wheat at all.
What I really like about this recipe, and what made me try it, was Emily’s note to tell you how to make it with other ingredients. Well, I had them, and I appreciated the note on making them without buying a full box of cake mix. Since discovering this little variable, I’ve enjoyed this chocolate cake in a mug several times.
Instead of the boxed mix, you simply whisk together 2 tablespoons of almond flour, one tablespoon of granulated 1:1 sweetener, ¼ teaspoon of baking powder, and a pinch of salt for your cake base.
That replaces the three tablespoons of the boxed yellow keto cake mix. Just mix it up and proceed with the recipe.
Ready For A Little Keto Chocolate Cake?
Really, I wish I’d done this before, but I’m glad I finally got around to trying this recipe.
Miss Alice has not had the pleasure of making any recipes from the book yet, but she’s planning on doing some while she’s off for Thanksgiving break. I highly recommended this recipe and a couple of others to her so that she and her daughter don’t have to rely on mac and cheese or some other “instant” thing when they get home at night. But they still haven’t gotten around to using a slow cooker during the week just yet.
This chocolate cake is an easy and fast keto dessert that makes just one serving whenever you’re ready. You don’t have to make an entire cake, just one little cup of cake. And isn’t that what you need sometimes just to hit the spot?
Easy Dirty Keto is the latest cookbook by Emilie Bailey. Today I’ll review it and tell you why it’s a good book to have in your collection, whether or not you eat keto.
Hello, again, Dear Readers:
Apologies for my tardiness, it’s been a busy few weeks. We watched as Hurricane Ian went through Florida doing pretty much the same thing Hurricane Ida did in Louisiana last year. One of my project managers lives right in the strike zone, and she finally got power and Internet back a few days ago. Don’t we know about that!
Others have checked in from the area on social media. Keep these folks in your thoughts and prayers, although I think the good Governor DeSantis has everything well in hand. We’ve been through it, and we know some folks who are still not back in their homes more than a year later. Everything moves VERY slowly here, but Florida’s working it.
We’ve had a few lovely cool fronts come through, and another brief one graces Texas and Louisiana tomorrow. There’s been scant rain for over a month. Autumn came early this year, and we’re thankful. I can open the windows some days and clear the air (especially after BF has been cooking.)
As promised, I’ve got a delicious new cookbook to tell you about, and five delicious recipes you can enjoy this week.
Get Ready For Dirty Keto
Are you looking for new and delicious keto recipes or just delicious food that’s easy to make? Well, aren’t we all? Today I’ll tell you all about the newest—and possibly final—book from The Texas Granola Girl, Emilie Bailey. This book covers both bases.
Let me say at the outset that I was fortunate to get a review copy of Easy Dirty Keto before its release on August 25th. Thank you, Emilie! (I feel special when that happens.) I’ve already left a five-star review on Amazon, because, well it deserves five stars, in my opinion. But that’s because the food is good.
Honestly, if the recipes weren’t any good, I wouldn’t be writing an entire blog post—it would be a short “news item” with my polite opinion. But this is Emilie, and the food is really, really, good—as usual.
Let’s get cooking.
What Is Dirty Keto?
No, it’s not something you get into trouble for, should be embarrassed about, or risk arrest. Nothing like that. It’s a form of keto that stays within the parameters but isn’t exact.
There are two types of keto:
- Clean keto, where you eat “clean,” no processed foods, artificial sweeteners, and the like
- Dirty keto, where the rules are a little looser, but still help you meet macros and stay in ketosis
Ingredients like these might be considered “dirty keto”:
Or this one:
And if you wanted to classify my keto, it would be called “filthy dirty keto.” Because I can’t say I eat keto every day—especially when BF makes jambalaya or one of his other “specialties.”
The rule is to stay in ketosis. I can’t say I’ve ever checked that. Still, dirty keto isn’t as strict, and the variety of foods is wider because you can include some things that you wouldn’t under “clean keto.” You’ll see what I mean in the recipes.
Many people find clean keto to be difficult to sustain, or they just get bored with the same types of foods. With dirty keto, there’s a little more to enjoy that’s still “keto.” Emilie explains in the intro–she’s busy, like most people, and needed to loosen the rules a bit. One example is the sugar-free version of Cool Whip.
I’ve tried these five recipes myself and give my opinion on each. (Spoiler alert: they’re delicious!) I’ll be trying more of them in the future, and I may include them in a future blog post. So, here they are for your information and enjoyment.
Chorizo and Spaghetti Squash, Page 125
Let me say right up front that this is the recipe I really wanted to make first but had to wait until BF wasn’t home. I don’t want to listen to the retching.
It’s simple and straightforward. You might not believe it was really keto. The setup:
First, start with the spaghetti squash:
Cut in half and scrape out the seeds:
They should look like this:
Put them face down onto a microwave-safe plate and cook on high for ten minutes, until it’s fork-tender.
When it’s done, it looks like this:
While that’s cooking, measure out your spices and things:
Then remove the chorizo from the casings and add it to the pan.
You won’t need oil, because the chorizo gives off plenty once it starts cooking. Remember, it’s a highly seasoned pork sausage.
Once the chorizo is cooked, add in the pico de gallo:
Mix that around, then add the salt and the spaghetti squash:
Toss that all around to distribute:
Then sprinkle the half-cup cheese on top:
And dinner is ready!
It takes about 30 minutes or so, but it’s really fast and easy. If you want, you can cook the spaghetti squash ahead of time (keep reading), refrigerate it, and add it to the pan when the chorizo is cooked. If the spaghetti squash is cold, you may need a few more minutes to let it reheat in the pan before topping it with the cheese.
When I finished, I posted this picture on Instagram:
And I tagged Emilie. She saw it and responded that it was one of her favorite recipes from this book. Well, yeah! But really—chorizo. Do we need anything else?
What I Did Wrong
I bet you weren’t expecting to read that. Let me explain.
The recipe was made according to Emilie’s directions. But because we were on a rushed trip to Winn-Dixie, two things were different:
- I bought salsa, not pico de gallo because that’s what I could find quickly
- I also couldn’t find the queso fresco quickly so I relied on the Cotija cheese I had in the freezer
Guess what? Both were wrong for this recipe—but it was still delicious!
The salsa I bought:
And the magic secret ingredient:
That’s right, sugar. They call it “cane sugar” so they can show that it’s “natural,” and not from high fructose corn syrup. It’s still sugar, though, and it matters if you’re a diabetic watching sugar or you’re just trying to cut down or eliminate your sugar consumption.
The Cotija cheese is tasty but has a stronger taste, similar to Manchego, but not as potent as Feta. Just not the same as Queso Fresco, which has a salty, mild taste. I love Queso Fresco, and BF won’t touch it, so it doesn’t last long when I buy some. Fortunately, the recipe only calls for a half-cup of cheese as a topping, so it doesn’t overwhelm. I was looking forward to the milder cheese taste.
A subsequent trip revealed that our local Winn-Dixie simply doesn’t carry Queso Fresco, but Walmart does, along with pico de gallo. Good thing, because there’s suddenly a lot more Spanish spoken in Walmart here than before. No kidding.
Because BF was gone on a recent weekend, I made it again with the “right” ingredients. (He still won’t touch it.) I made my own chorizo because I didn’t have any but did have ground pork in the freezer. Really good both ways, but I’ll stick with the recipe next time.
Here’s the printable recipe:
Chorizo & Spaghetti Squash Toss
- 1 medium spaghetti squash, about 2½ to 3 pounds, or four cups cooked spaghetti squash
- 1 pound Mexican chorizo, casings removed
- 1 cup pico de gallo
- ½ tsp Kosher salt
- ½ cup Queso Fresco (fresh Mexican crumbling cheese)
- Carefully cut the ends off the squash, then slice it in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds, then place the squash halves cut side down on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high for ten minutes, or until the squash is soft and fork-tender.
- While the squash is cooking, preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the chorizo to the skillet. Break apart the chorizo with a spoon and cook until lightly browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the pico de gallo and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until the onions begin to soften.
- When the squash is cool enough to handle, remove the strands with a fork, and add them to the skillet. Season with the salt, and toss with the chorizo mixture until warmed through.
- Remove the skillet from the heat, top the mixture with queso fresco, and serve.
I have updated the chorizo blog post with a printable recipe for that, too.
Notes About Spaghetti Squash
Emilie calls for microwaving the spaghetti squash here. And for this recipe, it works great. But there are other ways to cook this wonderful vegetable if you like it and want to make it for something else.
It’s low-carb and keto and tastes good when cooked correctly. It’s an ideal substitute for wheat-flour spaghetti, and tasty with any kind of spaghetti sauce. But of course, it’s called “squash,” and that puts BF right off eating any. His comment, “I’ll try anything you make” is rendered null and void when anything contains the word or ingredient “squash.”
My first encounter was some 20 years ago with one of Suzanne Somers’s many low-carb cookbooks. Her recipes called for the same prep: cut in half and remove the seeds. But then the recipe called for:
- Rubbing both cut sides with olive oil
- Putting them cut side down on a sheet pan
- Roasting in a 350F oven for an hour
You must wait for the squash to cool before handling it. Or use a thick potholder to hold the halves and scrape out the stringy flesh into a bowl. I can roast a smaller one in the countertop oven easily.
I think the recipe I tried first called for a little salt and pepper with a pat of butter, which is probably my favorite way to eat this squash. If you’re not going to use it or eat it immediately, just put it into a dish and refrigerate it until you’re ready.
Slow Cooking Spaghetti Squash
Another way I found to cook spaghetti squash is in the slow cooker. No kidding, you can totally put your spaghetti squash into your slow cooker—whole—and let it cook on “low” while you’re at work or doing other things. You must poke it with a fork in a few places like a potato, but it cooks up nicely. It’s hot, of course, so be careful cutting it open and scraping out the seeds.
Why would you do that if this recipe calls for microwaving? It’s your choice, really. You can also use the countertop oven to cook one in advance if you wanted. But using the slow cooker also means it’s hands-off and ready when you are, although it does come out softer this way. Again, use immediately or refrigerate.
If you’re making this dish on a busy weeknight, the ready-to-use spaghetti squash can make it a little easier.
However you cook this, it’s delicious in a fantastic Tex-Mex sort of way.
Barbecue Glazed Chicken Tenders, Page 95
This is so easy and tasty with just a few ingredients. Here’s the recipe:
Barbecue Glazed Chicken Tenders
- ½ cup Sugar-free barbecue sauce
- ¼ cup Sugar-free peach jam I couldn't find peach, but apricot worked well here.
- 1½ tbsp Sugar-free barbecue rub or seasoning
- 1 pound chicken tenders
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
- In a bowl, stir together the barbecue sauce, peach jam, and seasoning. Reserve three tablespoons of this mixture for later.
- Dip each chicken tender in the sauce mixture and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Place the tenders in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F. Base the tenders with the reserved sauce and bake for another 5 minutes.
- Serve as desired or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
See that sugar-free apricot jam over there? It’s supposed to be peach, but that’s all I could get in Winn-Dixie. It’s close, so I bought some, and it worked just fine. On sale, 2 for $6, with a jar of red raspberry. Because let’s face it, all you need is a spoon, and you have an instant keto dessert.
So. . . .
Preheat the oven to 400F, then line a sheet pan with parchment. I measured out the barbecue sauce in a measuring cup and then kept using it because it was just easier for mixing.
Mix the barbecue sauce, jam, and either some BBQ rub or other seasoning. I used a seasoned salt mix I like to make from another book.
And take out three tablespoons for later. I can’t find that picture, though. But it gets easier from here.
Dip the chicken tenders into the remaining mixture, just like you were breading them:
Drop onto the baking sheet:
Then bake it at 400F for about twenty minutes.
Once done, brush with the reserved sauce and give it another five minutes or so.
So what should you serve this with?
Balsamic Brussels Sprouts, Page 64
Make this while the chicken is in the oven. I started heating the oil first, took care of the chicken, then went on to make this one.
And if I’d read the directions ahead of time, I would have passed. Why? You’re FRYING them in hot oil on the stove. I’m not saying it’s not tasty—it is. However, I quit frying back in the ’80s, I think. Big mess, dangerous, and all that.
But. . .these little babies are SO GOOD!!!! So if you’re up to it, and you can do it safely, I highly suggest making this recipe—as is.
I can see Aunt Kathy in Texas reading this and saying to herself, “Frying? Yeah, right.” Well, here’s how it went.
Admittedly, I didn’t realize I’d need so much oil. And the big chili pot I was planning to use would have required several bottles of olive oil, so I used the smaller, 3-quart Dutch oven. Lucky me, I bought it years ago and I’m very happy I did because it’s super handy. I also didn’t have a lot of olive oil, so I used coconut oil with some olive oil, which worked just fine.
Before I started with the chicken, I put the oil in the pot and put the thermometer in with it:
You can’t see it in the picture because the inside is so faded, but 400 degrees is at the top.
I bought pre-washed Brussels sprouts, so that was a good thing:
I dropped them into the very hot oil slowly and carefully, half the bag at a time.
And this happened:
Use your “splatter screen,” not the pot lid, because condensation will drip water back into the hot oil and cause popping and splattering. No.
Let them cook for 3 to 5 minutes, the book says. I think the second batch cooked a bit longer, maybe 6 minutes, and they came out a little better.
When you take them out of the oil, put them on a sheet pan lined with paper toweling:
Repeat with a second batch if you need to.
After the frying is completed, sprinkle on a bit of salt:
Transfer to your serving dish and sprinkle on a quarter-cup of Parmesan cheese:
A bit more salt:
Then drizzle over the tablespoon of the balsamic reduction:
If the chicken isn’t ready, keep this dish warm until it is. But the chicken should be about ready by this time. I stuck the dish into the toaster oven to keep it warm until the chicken was done.
This is a seriously good keto dinner:
I admit I was just going to use my default keto recipe, cauliflower rice. And it wouldn’t be bad, either. But Emilie suggests this recipe as an accompaniment, so I made it. I’m glad I did, frying mess and all.
This balsamic reduction is a syrupy condiment based on balsamic vinegar.
It’s not totally keto, but then, you don’t need much to add a really nice extra touch of sweetness to any dish.
Here’s the printable recipe:
Carmelized Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Glaze
- Olive oil, for frying I used olive and coconut because I was nearly out of olive
- 1 pound prewashed fresh Brussels sprouts, cut in half, dry, and at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon Balsamic glaze
- Line a baking sheet with a layer of paper towels for draining. Into a Dutch oven, pour about 1½ inches of oil and heat the oil to 400°F over medium heat.
- Put half the Brussels sprouts and any leaves that have fallen off into the hot oil. Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring them often until they are dark golden brown and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to the prepared baking sheet to drain. Immediately season with ¼ teaspoon of salt.
- Bring the oil back up to temperature, add the remaining Brussels sprouts to the oil and repeat step 2.
- Place the crispy sprouts on a serving plate, sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese, and drizzle with the balsamic glaze. Serve immediately.
- NOTE: Emilie says that to ensure that the sprouts come out crispy, and to reduce any splattering, make sure that they are dry and at room temperature prior to frying. Don't use frozen sprouts, since they have much more moisture. Use a screen to control the splattering but don't use a lid, which will make the splattering worse.
Guess what? I made this dinner again, this time for BF, along with the Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Whip (keep reading) a couple of weeks ago. I managed to find sugar-free peach preserves, too. He was looking forward to trying this menu and really enjoyed his dinner with dessert. So we have one more “acceptable” keto dinner for BF, thanks to Emilie’s great recipes. We’ll definitely be having this again sometime.
Boogie Cheeseburger Skillet, Page 117
What led me to try this, knowing BF wouldn’t eat it? Well, there’s a lot he doesn’t eat, so there’s that. A couple of other things, too:
- A lady I’ve known for a long time in nearby Albany calls everyone “Boogie” as a term of endearment. So naturally, the title caught my attention.
- One recipe called for chipotle mayo, but I wondered where I would find it here. I mean, soy sauce is considered “international food” in our local stores. Walking through our newly renovated Winn-Dixie, I found not only the chipotle mayo, but it was also on sale, so I bought a bottle. It is SO GOOD! Then I went back and found the recipe in the digital book. Warning: it’s got a strong bite. So if peppery is not something you’d like, Emilie says to substitute regular mayo in the sauce and the milder Monterey Jack cheese for the topping.
- And one recipe called for a poblano pepper, which happened to be growing outside in the paint bucket garden. It was the same recipe, so that was my chance to use it in a recipe before it went bad. I’ve got a couple more growing this late in the year, but I can get poblanos in both Winn-Dixie and Walmart, too.
Then it was a matter of getting a few more ingredients and cooking it.
Yes, this is sugar-free ketchup by the same company that makes our favorite barbecue sauce.
Start by preheating the oven to 400F, mix up your mayo, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce, and set aside.
If you haven’t chopped anything yet, let me give you a tip: wear gloves for nearly any type of pepper but bells:
You’ll seed it and cut it into two-inch strips:
You’ll need a large, oven-safe skillet for this. A cast-iron skillet or stainless one like mine is perfect. Melt the butter, then add the chopped onion and Poblano pepper. Cook for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring often until the onion is translucent and starts to carmelize.
Remove this from the pan and set it aside. Now start with the ground beef, along with the salt, pepper and garlic powder:
Brown it up really nicely, and break it up into small pieces, which will take about ten minutes:
Then add the requisite cauliflower rice:
Cook until the cauli-rice is no longer frozen, just a few minutes. Then add the onion and pepper back into the pan and stir:
Take the pan off the heat, and stir in about two-thirds of the mayo mixture we made first:
Sprinkle with the cheese:
Put the pan into the oven for five to seven minutes:
Drizzle the reserved sauce on top and dig in.
No, BF wouldn’t eat this either, he told me at the outset. I’ll make it again when he’s working late or I decide he can have his favorite frozen pizza for dinner.
Here’s the printable recipe:
Boogie Cheeseburger Skillet
- ½ cup chipotle mayonnaise, plus more for serving You can use plain mayo here if you can't find chipotle mayo or prefer less or no spice
- 2 tbsp sugar-free ketchup
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp butter
- ½ onion, cut into ¼" wedges
- 1 poblano pepper
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 12-ounce bag frozen cauliflower rice
- 1 cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese If you'd like to cut down on the spiciness, use Monterrey Jack instead
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise,ketchup, and Worchestershire sauce and set aside.
- Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Melt the butter, then add onion and pepper; cook for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring often, until the onion is translucent and beginning to carmelize. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add the beef to the pan, and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cook for about 10 minutes or until browned, breaking it apart as it cooks. Add the frozen cauliflower rice and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until there is no liquid left in the pan and the cauliflower rice is tender. Stir the pepper and onion into the beef mixture.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in two-thirds of the mayonnaise mixutre. Top with the shredded cheese. Put the skillet into the oven and bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until the cheese melts. Carefully remove the skillet from the oven and drizzle with the remaining sauce.
Mint-Chip Ice Cream Whip, Page 137
Let me just say that this is a total “cheat” of a recipe. It’s a prime example of “dirty keto,” since it’s not what you’d call “clean eating” under any circumstances. And I wouldn’t have considered it unless Emilie or another keto writer suggested it.
I’m talking about Cool Whip. It now comes in a version called Zero Sugar.
If you serve this dessert in fancy little dessert cups or glasses, I suggest calling it “Syllabub.” Chances are no one will know what that means, and it will sound posh. Maybe even French posh.
I’m not a fan of frozen non-dairy dessert toppings, even if it’s sugar-free. But now and again, this might just be what you need to hit the spot. As Emilie describes, it’s not really ice cream, just a little ice-cream-esque dessert that comes together quickly.
The prep for this one calls for putting the Cool Whip into the fridge for four hours to thaw. Don’t let it sit out or microwave this stuff because it will separate. Why? It’s non-dairy, and this commercial from about ten years ago (“Oil? Or Cream?” ) explains the difference. Read more on Kraft’s website.
Oh, and one more thing: I couldn’t get the white chocolate sugar-free pudding here, so I used regular chocolate sugar-free pudding. This, too, worked fine. The setup:
Once your Zero Sugar Cool Whip is sufficiently thawed to a soft texture, dump it into a bowl:
Add in the rest of the ingredients:
Chop the mint patties up fine:
And discover that the bowl you picked up is too small, so you switch to a larger one because it all fits in the dishwasher:
Fold carefully to mix:
Add it back to the Cool Whip container and stash it in the freezer for a couple of hours.
When it’s stiffened up a bit, it’s ready to dish out and serve.
Don’t serve it from the Cool Whip container if you’re trying to be fancy and call it syllabub. However, if you collect this fine piece of culinary Americana, here’s another reason to add to your “collection.”
And if you’re a fan of regular Cool Whip, here’s a new dessert for you, whether you’re eating keto or not. I’m sure it would work well with the regular stuff, too. If you try it, leave a comment about it.
The first time I made it, I mentioned it to BF and offered him some. He declined. Amazing, because he’s a huge fan of the power of Listerine. But with the chicken and Brussels sprouts for dinner, he was open to trying some, and he really enjoyed a dish of this fast and non-fancy keto dessert.
Here’s the printable recipe:
Mint Chip Ice-Cream Whip
- 1 8-ounce Container sugar-free whipped topping, thawed Do this by leaving in the fridge for four hours--don't leave it out or microwave
- 2 tblsp Sugar-free white chocolate pudding mix I used sugar free chocolate because I couldn't find white chocolate.
- ½ tsp Peppermint Extract
- 3 sugar-free peppermint patties, finely chopped
- In a medium bowl, combine the whipped topping, (save the container), pudding mix, and peppermint extract and stir together well.
- Fold in the chopped peppermint patties and return the mixture to the whipped topping container.
- Put the container in the freezer for at least 2 to 3 hours for an ice cream-like consistency.
About Peppermint Extract
Be VERY careful not to add too much. Otherwise, the finished dish will taste like toothpaste. I speak from experience here. The mint can overpower everything else, so measure carefully, and not over the bowl. Now, do you see why I prep everything beforehand? You can’t add too much when it’s already measured into a small dish or pinch bowl.
Yes, I did that, but I didn’t stage the picture right. I was by myself, as usual, and I had to stand around the tripod.
Verdict: It’s A Great Book!
Easy Dirty Keto is a really nice cookbook to have in your collection. If you aren’t looking for dirty keto, I still recommend Emilie’s book. The recipes are easy, and most of the recipes don’t need a large number of ingredients. Plus, the food is so good that even non-keto folks can still enjoy them. Even BF!
When I had the opportunity to review Emilie’s first book, The Southern Keto Book, my first thought was something along the lines of, “Keto and Southern? Oh, come ON!” Of course, you know how that went, and now I’m a total fangirl.
Keto or not, I feel like these recipes are real comfort food. At least, that’s what I felt like when I made them and then enjoyed eating them. No kidding. Even though I grew up in New Orleans, the cuisine just isn’t appealing to me anymore, plus all the excess starch of rice and potatoes and the like. I liked Tex-Mex early on, and it’s what I’ve liked since the late ’80s. Nobody understands that here, but I’m sure Emilie does.
Delicious food is the best reason for buying any cookbook, isn’t it?
Is Easy Dirty Keto The End?
Emilie and her family are on a working game ranch in Texas. That’s probably the reason you can find several venison and wild game recipes on her website. While she’s enjoyed sharing her keto journey with readers, another book may be out of the question. We hope not, of course, but we’re thankful for the four she’s published. Read her blog, you’ll see that her blog and cookbooks are a “side hustle.” Like a lot of modern authors, she has a “day job” and writes on the side.
Should this be Emilie’s last book, I would just say thank you to Emilie for four great books with delicious food to enjoy for years to come. All four have become favorites with us, and even BF likes many of the dishes I’ve made. No more canned soup if he wants something better.
Emilie didn’t say anything about discontinuing her blog. Like me, Emilie doesn’t blog regularly. That’s OK—Emilie’s website is a huge collection of delicious keto recipes that aren’t in any books, to my knowledge. Those aforementioned venison recipes will be tried next time someone brings over deer or something. (It’s happened a few times, and deer roast is quite easy in the Instant Pot.) If you’re so inclined, sign up at her website (right-hand side, scroll down a little over halfway.)
Maybe one day we can make the trip to visit Emilie’s ranch in Texas. When we do, there will be a full blog post here with lots of pictures.
Are you a blackberry fan? I’ve got a great dessert recipe for your upcoming Labor Day outing, or just anytime you want something easy, sweet, and tasty.
Hello again, Dear Readers:
How did it happen that it’s the end of August? Well, while were busy with other things, Father Time kept moving. Labor Day is Monday, and that kicks off the fall season in the US. Kids go back to school, fall fashions arrive, regular schedules resume, and the Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) returns to Starbucks. Then social media memes about pumpkin spice everything arrive, as well as other products with the flavors and spices of pumpkin pie.
Cooler weather will be coming to the South sometime around late October to mid-November, whereas our neighbors above the Mason-Dixon Line will be reaching for their winter gear in the next few weeks. Until then we can still enjoy some summery things, like today’s featured recipe from The Pioneer Woman Magazine. I know, I’m late doing this one. I finally got around to not only buying the ingredients but also baking the thing. BF is happily licking his paws and enjoying it this week.
I’m also late writing this post because for the last two weeks we’ve experienced a serious “rainy season.” No kidding, long periods of heavy rain every day, which takes down the Internet for a while. The rain kept the temperature in the low 80s, so I did turn on the big oven once or twice.
Never fear—I’m told that there’s a new Internet company that’s installing fiber optic cables in the area, and they’re going to be installing them on our little country road soon. After five years of the Internet that’s knocked out every time clouds roll in, I’m hoping for better service. Maybe I can finally use my little MagicJack and the (now-discontinued) Plantronics phone instead of just the iPhone app.
Prime Time For Hurricanes
Others aren’t so fortunate and are still not back in their homes nearly a year later. Many don’t know when they’ll be going home again.
Hurricane season isn’t yet over, because it runs to November 1st. But this is the time of the year (August through late September) to keep an eye out for things happening in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s the same season where other storms have happened:
- Hurricanes Laura and Marco, 2020 (there were more, and the National Weather Service ran out of names)
- Hurricanes Gert, Harvey, Maria, and Irma, 2017
- The Big Flood in Southern Louisiana, 2016 (not a hurricane but a weather system just as destructive, even this far north of the coast)
- Hurricane Ike, 2008 (Houston and Galveston were seriously impacted; I was in New Orleans with The E Man and his wife for nine days)
- Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, 2005 (I drove through the Rita evacuation to Austin, it took 11 hours)
- Hurricane Ivan, 2004
Just to name a few. We’re ready, we think, especially with all the tea light candles I bought last year, but I also think we need to stock up on batteries soon. As one of my Boeing Brothers posted on Facebook over the weekend, there are things that happen, and you don’t think about those possibilities ahead of time. He shared it on the date they were devastated by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. He and his family had to quickly evacuate their home with what they could carry, including three cats and two dogs, one of which didn’t make it out.
If you’re thinking about hurricane preparation (better late than never), here are some checklists:
- Houston Office of Emergency Management, with information and checklists including a “shelter in place kit”
- Southern University of New Orleans Police Department
- Hurricane Safety from the International Hurricane Research Center at Florida International University (IHRC)
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA)
If it sounds like I’m becoming a “doomsday prepper,” then I’ll take it after two power-out periods last year. Better ready than being caught unaware, right? Ask anyone who went through Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
I’ve got a post coming up that can help with those possibilities, too.
Recently I headed to our local Winn-Dixie for a few things and bought a couple of Hatch Chiles. I was so happy to see the display:
However, I went back last Friday and planned to buy more, but they were gone. One of the very nice employees said that they were all spoiled and had to be thrown out. I said, “because nobody knows what they are and I’m the only one who bought them?” She nodded.
What do I need to do—start a PR campaign?
Albertson’s and Rouses will have some, and maybe the Winn-Dixie in Hammond, too. Walmart hasn’t carried them locally, but they do have Anaheim chili peppers from Mexico all year around.
Another Year Of Blackberries
As I’ve done for the last couple of years, I picked the wild (and free) blackberries that grow around here.
I walk out with my colander, suited up with gloves, heavy jeans, and my knee-high black Muck Boots to pick them. (The vines have sharp thorns on them.) Once inside, I wash them gently, drain them, and put them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Then I put the tray into the big freezer on top of everything and let them freeze. If you just toss them into a freezer bag, they’ll freeze into a huge block, and you can’t get them apart to eat or use.
When that’s done, I start adding them to a large Ziplock bag, marked with the date I started the bag, and of course, the contents. The berries are frozen until I am ready to use them. This year’s harvest was pretty good:
I guess I’d have more of them if I would quit eating them and hand-feeding a few to Buddy (aka “Broccoli Stirfry”) when we went outside.
What To Do With The Blackberries
I like the bragging rights that the blackberries are “organic,” because we just let them grow on their own, and they’re “locally grown,” because they’re right outside. They’re picked for our own consumption, and certainly not for sale.
BF never paid attention to them until I found out that blackberries were growing wild. Then I let him know not to mess with the vines until blackberry season ended. Mother Nature provides you with fresh, free fruit—why wouldn’t you pick and enjoy them? Respect the berries, pick them, and freeze them for later. They thaw nicely in the fridge for a day or so, or you can leave them out on the counter for a little while. Don’t leave them too long or they’ll get mushy.
You may remember in my review of Emilie Bailey’s The Southern Keto Book that I made Granny’s Blackberry Cobbler. I still make it occasionally, and both BF and I really enjoy it.
But sometimes, BF doesn’t want the keto/gluten-free/sugar-free stuff. He wants “the real thing, with real flour and sugar.” Lucky for me, Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, came through with a recipe in the Summer 2022 edition of her magazine on page 80: the Blackberry Cheesecake Galette.
Warning: today’s recipe isn’t keto, low-carb, sugar-free, gluten-free, or in any way “diet” or “healthy.” Except for the use of the blackberry.
What’s A Galette?
Well, it’s like a pie but a bit simpler. Made free-form, it’s a French-style dessert that just has crust with an open top. You can see a short explanation on Delighted Cooking. If you want something more thorough, Wikipedia has a detailed explanation.
Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, has a recipe that’s similar, called Apple Crostata, which is also very good.
In Ree Drummond’s case, her galettes use an ingenious shortcut: store-bought pre-made pie crusts. So that’s what I did. BF is enjoying the second one piece by piece as he did with the first one.
The magazine has recipes for three different fruit galettes:
- Blackberry Cheesecake, pages 80-81
- Blueberry-Raspberry, page 82
- Strawberry Basil, page 83
All three use the same basic crust iteration, and different fillings with fruit, sugar, and cornstarch. They also start out by using the bottom of a baking sheet, adding parchment paper, sticking the two crusts together, and rolling them to a 12-inch circumference.
Note that these recipes are not on her website, but there are five other fruit galette recipes there. On the affiliated Tasty Kitchen collaborator website, there are a total of 79 recipes for galettes, both sweet and savory, as well as 276 blackberry recipes.
I haven’t tried the other two galettes myself, but I think nearly any sweet (or even savory) filling you tossed together would work well in this crust. Make sure to leave a two-inch border when adding the filling to the crust so you can fold it up easily.
Making The Blackberry Cheesecake Galette
So, let me just say that it does take a bit of prep work to get this going, especially since I prefer to measure things ahead of time. But the smile on BF’s face makes it totally worth the trouble. He’ll keep me around for this one, even if I didn’t do it exactly correctly.
Here’s the printable recipe, re-typed from the magazine’s instructions.
Blackberry Cheesecake Galette
- 1 14-ounce package of refrigerated pie dough
- 2 cups blackberries
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon coarse sugar
- Place an oven rack in the bottom position and preheat to 400F. Flip over a baking sheet and line with parchment paper. Unroll the pie dough on a work surface, then stack the two rounds, gently pressing to adhere. Roll out into a 12-inch round and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
- Combine the blackberries, cornstarch salt, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the lemon zest and 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a medium bowl and gently mix until the cornstarch has dissolved
- Combine the cream cheese, sour cream, vanilla, egg yolk, remaining 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice into another medium bowl. Beat with a mixer on medium-high speed until combined and smooth, 2 to 3 minutes
- Use a slotted spoon to remove six or seven blackberries into a separate bowl. Spoon the remaining blackberry mixture into the center of the pie dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Drizzle the cream cheese mixture on top, leaving the border uncovered. Gently fold in and pleat the dough edge, taking care not to rip it. Scatter the reserved blackberries on top of the filling. Brush the crust with the beaten egg, then sprinkle with the coarse sugar.
- Bake the galette until the crust is a deep golden brown, the cheesecake is set and the blackberries are slightly bubbling through the cheesecake in spots, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and let the galette cool completely about 1 hour.
So, gather up your ingredients, including your blackberry bowl:
Preheat your oven to 400F, with the oven rack in the bottom position. Flip over a baking sheet and add a length of parchment paper on top, weighing it down so the paper doesn’t fly off.
Unroll your pie crusts and stack them on a work surface—a cutting board, or another flat thing.
Now the second:
Here’s where I went wrong: you’re supposed to use a rolling pin and roll them out to a 12-inch round and get them to stick together. But because “rolling pin” isn’t in the recipe directions, I didn’t think about using one. So I just kind of pressed them together by hand to make them stick:
It worked OK. Next time. Now move that base onto your parchment paper, if you’re using a flat surface, and go fiddle with the blackberry mixture:
Add the berries, cornstarch salt, ¼ cup of granulated sugar, lemon zest, and a tablespoon of our lemon juice into a bowl.
Carefully mix them so you don’t mess up the berries (especially if you use thawed frozen ones as I did.)
Mix until the cornstarch dissolves, set it aside, and move on to the cheesecake part.
Into another bowl, add the 3 ounces of cream cheese, a tablespoon of sour cream, vanilla, the egg yolk, the remaining ¼ cup of granulated sugar, and the rest of the lemon juice. Use a hand mixer on medium-high speed to blend that well, two to three minutes.
Now you’re ready to bake.
First, remove a few berries from the other bowl and set them aside. These will make the top look pretty.
Then add the rest to the flat piecrust, leaving a two-inch border for the up-folding.
Grab a roll of paper towels, because the blackberry liquid is now running all over the place. (Thank heavens it’s pink and not red. Next time I’m using the inside of the baking sheet or buying new ones.) No, I didn’t get a picture of that–I was busy trying to catch all that dark pink liquid rolling down the stove.
At this point I transferred the galette and the parchment paper to a flat baking sheet with an air cushion underneath that I’ve had for many years but ruined on the first use. Parchment paper makes everything all right.
Now carefully drizzle the cream cheese mixture over the berries, keeping it within the confines of the center and away from the two-inch border. Start folding the border inward, creating a nice looking. . .ok, whatever you can do with it, but don’t tear or rip the pie crust.
If you haven’t done so already, beat the whole egg, and brush it on the crust you just folded up over the side:
And sprinkle some coarse sugar on top of the egg-washed crust area:
The coarse sugar gives the galette a nice, crunchy crust when it’s done. Into the oven for 30 to 35 minutes:
Bake until the crust is golden brown, the cheesecake part is set, and the blackberries are bubbling up through the cheesecake part in spots. Alternately, you can just wait until it oozes all over your baking sheet and your oven like I did:
I think I forgot to take more pictures at this point. BF was sniffing around during the commercials during that gory “true crime” show he was watching. But using a large spatula or two, transfer the galette to a baking rack and let it cool completely, which will take an hour or so. If you try to eat it right out of the oven, you know you’ll be paying for it with terrible mouth pain for days, right?
Oh, and you’ve got a bit of a mess to clean up. But it’s totally worth the trouble:
Let cool, then slice it into six or eight slices (or even twelve if you’re trying to serve more people.) I found that my large round pizza cutter made the job simple. Packed up pieces in individual containers for BF to take with his work meals and enjoy some then. He’s already let one coworker try a bite–thumbs up.
Whether you’re having a little get-together or going to a Labor Day celebration, the Blackberry Cheesecake Galette will be a favorite. Ask BF, and he’ll tell you.
Until Next Time
I’ve finally finished testing five recipes for Emilie Bailey’s newest (and possibly final) cookbook, Easy Dirty Keto. BF refused to try any of the recipes this time, including dessert. I’ve had no other willing taste-testers around. So you’ll have to go on my comments alone.
Miss Alice in Houston also has her own copy of the book but hasn’t yet tried anything. However, she’s anxious for her and her daughter N to have some new and easy recipes to enjoy, irrespective of keto. Since she’s a teacher, and N is a teenager, school started last week, and it’s now “crunch time” for them both. I asked her to let me know what they try and how they like the recipes. Maybe I can talk her into some pictures, too.
Once I finish writing and uploading all the pictures, you’ll be able to see what some of these new “dirty keto” recipes are like. Even if BF wouldn’t taste any. I’m sure I’ll eventually find something that will please his ornery, manly, and non-keto taste buds.
I’ll also tell you more about our newly renovated Winn-Dixie soon. It’s in the same building and has the same floor space but seems to have doubled in size. Our little store has a wider variety of things than before and may also mean less driving for me to find ingredients that were not previously available locally.
Until then, Happy Dining!