Color Me Salmon

As a child, my dad and uncle would take me fishing. I learned everything there was know including new colorful words. Worm on the hook didn't gross me out. Mosquito bites, eh. No big deal. Packed sandwiches and chips. Beef jerky and Charleston Chews. The smell of the lake water. Muddy shoes.

I loved every minute of it. 

I grew up in the Midwest. Trout was the main dish we ate. Grilled. Oven. No matter what it was always delicious. I haven't had Trout in many moons. Now my favorite fish fillets are Sockeye Salmon, Halibut, and Alaskan Caught Cod. All wild caught. Farm raised fish is not the best option. Fish farms have been deemed both ecologically and economically unstable, with “an unequal tradeoff between environmental costs and economic benefits” and high levels of contaminants are common in farm-raised salmon; the Norwegian Health Department went on the record recently warning against eating too much farmed salmon for this reason. Don't get me started on tilapia. 

Let's talk about salmon. When it is out of season markets will carry frozen wild caught. Publix is one of them. In the meat department is where you will find it. There are other options in the frozen food section. For instance, at Target the brand Simply Balanced has a pack of three individually wrapped wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon filets.

My mom isn't a huge fan of plain fish. She prefers breaded. Understandable. I was thinking about a recipe to make for my parents when they visit in May. I had leftover homemade breadcrumbs and decided to use them for the salmon filets. Popped the filet in the air fryer and voila, a perfectly crispy but not dry salmon dinner.

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In previous posts, I've detailed my breadcrumbs recipe. You absolutely can purchase panko or breadcrumbs. If you know me, you know I use CampMIX with everything. The company also has a Lemon Pepper mix. Nothing funky added in like some lemon pepper seasonings and turmeric is a lovely add to the blend.

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When I add the breaded filet into the air fryer, I also add a few sprigs of rosemary, a clove of garlic, and half a lemon for aromatics. Plus, the house smells like herbs and not fish because we all know what that smells like when cooking fish in the oven. It lingers for days. 

Not with the air fryer.

Even my teenage anti-fish son enjoys the breaded salmon. Well, at least a few bites. I'll take it. 

On occasion, I'll make a garlic butter to melt over the filet.  

Ingredients

Sockeye Salmon Fillet - preferably wild-caught

Lemon Pepper Camp Mix (garlic, onion, black pepper, salt, celery salt, white pepper, citric acid and turmeric) or your chosen lemon pepper blend

One lemon

Fresh rosemary

Fresh garlic

For the breadcrumbs

1/2 loaf of cubed sourdough (I purchase mine at Publix because it's soy-free) Also, Panera's Country Loaf is an excellent option. It's also soy-free. 

A teaspoon of Camp Mix or a blend of garlic, onion, black pepper, salt, white pepper and celery salt. 

Olive oil

Instructions

Follow my breadcrumbs recipe or use pre-prepared breadcrumbs or panko. In a bowl mix the breadcrumbs and seasonings.

Take the salmon fillet, place it on a plate, prep board, whatever you choose and cover it with olive oil. Squirt 1/2 a lemon on the salmon. Sprinkle the lemon pepper seasoning on. More is better. What I've discovered with fish is it absorbs the seasoning and when cooked a person can hardly taste it. Cover the top of the salmon in the breadcrumbs mixture. Dump it on. All over.

Set the air fryer to 370 for 15 minutes.

If you have an air fryer accessory pan, use it otherwise right in the basket works. But I'd rub a little extra olive oil on the bottom because the salmon skin can stick easily. Put in the sprigs of rosemary, garlic, and lemon in the basket.  

Depending on your air fryer, I'd check the fish at the 10-minute mark. I know my larger one cooks a bit faster than my smaller air fryer. Once the breadcrumbs or panko are golden brown, your salmon is done. Which is about 15 minutes.

Be careful removing the salmon from the air fryer basket. A spatula works great.

You can add an extra squirt of lemon or the butter I mentioned above. Or nothing at all. Either way, it's delicious. Not fishy at all. Crunchy. The lemon, garlic, pepper is on point. 

The next few recipes on here will be essential items people have requested from me. Sauces, mixtures, and condiments I use in my everyday cooking and how I add them to my meals. 

 

  

 

 

 

 

Air Fryer Crab Cakes - Obsessed

My first encounter with crab cakes was six years ago. At the time I wasn't a seafood chick. My husband was always trying to get me to order something different beyond the norm. For our anniversary dinner, I agreed and ordered the crab cake sandwich. 
First, bite, and I was in love. The sweetness of the crab meat and bite of the spicy coleslaw. Oh, my. 

Over the years I've worked on perfecting my crab cake recipe. Adding and subtracting ingredients. Changing up spices. Taking out store bought mayo and breadcrumbs and making my own. My cast iron skillet was my go to, but since upgrading to the GoWISE USA 5.8-Quarts 8-in-1 Electric Air Fryer XL, I'm able to make more crab cakes. I can comfortably fit 4-5 in the basket. And olive or avocado oil isn't splattering all over my oven and floor. Bonus. 

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The texture reminded me of a deep fried crab cake but without the grease or fat. I enjoy crab cakes alone. Sometimes I'll make a garlic aioli to dip mine in. My husband prefers the sandwich, and on this particular day, I had leftover basil pesto. I also the toast the sourdough slices for him.

Mmmmmmm, now I want crab cakes.

Personally, I enjoyed the air fryer crab cakes more than the cast iron skillet version, but my husband would beg to differ.

I guess he better learn how to make his own crab cakes.  

Ingredients

For the mayo

1 cup of light tasting olive oil

One free range egg

1/2 teaspoon of dijon mustard

1/4 of a lemon

CampMIX or seasonings of your choice. Sometimes I add cayenne pepper or dill. 

For the breadcrumbs

1/2 loaf of cubed sourdough (I purchase mine at Publix because it's soy-free) 

Dash of salt and pepper. 

Olive oil

For the crab cakes

8oz crab lump meat (Pay the extra money for excellent crab meat. Publix and Whole Foods are my choices if you don't have a fresh seafood place near you)

3/4 cups breadcrumbs

3/4 mayo

A handful of chopped scallions

Instructions

Make the mayo: In a blender add 1/4 of the olive oil, egg, mustard, squeeze in lemon (watch out for those seeds), and seasonings. Blend on low. Once blended open the central part of the blender and slowly pour in remaining olive oil. It will start to thicken. Stop the blender. Give it a little stir. Taste and decide if you want to add more lemon or seasonings. Put the mayo in a container, cover and put in the refrigerator. 

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Breadcrumbs: Cube your bread. In a large bowl add bread and pour olive oil over the bread until every piece is coated. Combine the mixture and breadcrumbs. Preheat oven to 390. Spread them out on a cooking sheet. Bake until golden brown.

Allow those to cool. 

Pour the bread into a food processor. It will grind up in different sizes, which I like.

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On to the crab cake mixture: In a bowl add the crab lump meat, breadcrumbs, mayo, and chopped scallions. 

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Mix. Make four patties out of the mixture and carefully put them in the basket of the air fryer. Cook at 370 for 13 minutes or until golden brown. 

Use a spatula to remove the crab cakes from the basket when done. 

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On this occasion, I made two in the air fryer and two in the iron skillet. 

Either way, the result is pure deliciousness. 

As I always say make this recipe your own. It's the joy of cooking. Creating and tasting. It's a bit different than the normal crab cake recipe but who the heck wants to be normal? 

Enjoy!

 

Hello? Is It Cheese You're Looking For?

March 7, 2017, USA Today published an article titled Cheese is so addictive, one doctor calls it 'dairy crack'. I 100% believe it. There is something about cheese when it's listed on a menu. A gleam in one's eye. The giddiness inside.

My relationship with cheese is complicated. When I was young whether my grandma was visiting our home or my family was visiting hers, she'd cook delicious food for us. Every single meal. Most contained cheese. One of the favorites was her fried macaroni and cheese. Nothing fancy but she made it with love. The crispy noodles mixed with creamy cheese was on another level for a nine-year-olds palette. I've mimicked the recipe, but it's not the same. It's not my grandma's.

I decided to create my own.

Soy-free. Lactose-free. Vegetarian-friendly. No noodles.  

What the heck is it?

Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Bake.

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Activate watering of the mouth. 

Spaghetti Squash. Cheese. Basil.

The trifecta of awesomeness. 

As I've stated in a previous recipe I cook the squash the night before, The Foolproof, Step-by-Step Guide to Cooking Spaghetti Squash, I add a few cloves of garlic and fresh basil for aromatics.

The end result is cheesy goodness.

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Ingredients

1 large spaghetti squash

3 tbsp of Earth Balance Soy-free butter

3 tbsp of ap flour or your flour of choice

2 cups of coconut milk (I use VitaCoco Original)

1 tablespoon of Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut Cream

A handful of fresh basil leaves

3/4 tbsp CampMIX or create your mixture of garlic salt, salt, garlic powder, celery salt, black pepper. I recommend tasting as you go. 

1 block of Cabot Farmhouse Reserve Cheddar (Shred the entire block) 

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Instructions

Preheat oven to 390.

Mince basil leaves. 

In a medium saucepan or cast iron pot on low-medium heat melt the butter. Whisk in flour until small lumps form. Add coconut milk and continue to whisk until smooth. Add seasonings salt, basil, whisk and simmer for about 2 minutes or until sauce has slightly thickened. Add the cheese and whisk until smooth. 

Add spaghetti squash. Stir and blend carefully.

In an 8x8 Pyrex dish pour in the cheesy awesomeness. A 10" cast iron pan is also an option.

I have an electric oven--miss our gas oven--I cook the squash for 5-7 minutes. Then I switch to broil on high. Check every couple of minutes until golden brown.

This entire dish is 5-6 servings depending on the portion size your spouse or children dish out. My husband dishes heavy.

The leftovers are perfect to fry up the next day. Too bad I never have any leftovers which I guess is a compliment.

Now go make this dish and make it your own.         

 

 

 

Fresh Basil Pesto Grilled Cheese - The Ultimate Comfort Food

Pesto. 

It's a favorite in our household. I recently posted my Pesto Spaghetti Squash recipe and though I did post my pesto recipe I have a different I use for pesto grilled cheese. Who doesn't love gooey grilled cheese? I have fond memories of my dad making me a grilled cheese with Velvetta when I was young. I'd dip mine in Ketchup just as he did. My son did the same. 

There is something about the buttery toasted bread and melty cheese which brings warmth and happiness to my soul. My husband loves grilled cheese with soup. Especially when he is feeling under the weather--mancold--he requests my grilled cheese for every meal. 

My pesto is different because I don't use pine nuts, parmesan cheese, or any other oils besides light tasting olive oil. Most pestos at local supermarkets contain ingredients myself or my husband cannot have. The mint and Meyer lemon add a twist to the original. Sweet and citrus.     

My pan of choice is the Lodge Cast Iron Skillet, but I did recently purchase the Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler and will have to test out the panini action on it. An air fryer is also a great way to make grilled cheese. I set my air fryer at 360. Cook until golden brown.   

My husbands favorite part of the grilled cheese is that I sprinkle CampMIX on the outside of the sourdough bread. Adds a little something. Cabot Farmhouse Reserve Cheddar is OUR cheese. It blends perfectly with whatever you are cooking, lasagna, tacos, or pesto grilled cheese. It's creamy but has a bit of a bite like parmesan but without the stink--my dad's observation.

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First bite?

Euphoric. 

The mix of fresh basil, butter, seasonings and the blend of delicate but robust cheese, oh my goodness. I could eat this every day.

The perfect comfort food.  

Next up on my recipe list is Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Bake. Yeah, it's kind of amazing. Especially for those who crave mac and cheese but the ingredients from back in the day don't work anymore. I have you covered. Also, an excellent comfort food dish.

I don't feel I have to go into great detail on how to make a grilled cheese. I tend to keep my electric stove about six because the cast iron heats up quickly. 

Ingredients for Pesto

Basil

About 1/4 cup minced garlic

1 cup extra light olive oil 

A few mint leaves

Squirt of Meyer Lemon

Dash of crushed red pepper

Dash CampMix 

In the food chopper, I have the KitchenAid 3.5-Cup Food Chopper, fill to top with basil leaves and a few mint leaves. Add garlic and seasonings. Blend. After I dry mix, I use a spoon and scrape the mixture back into the middle. I found this method blends better especially if some of the basil and mint leaves don't thoroughly chop up. 

Add the olive oil and lemon (watch out for the seeds). Chop again.

Please taste. I can't emphasize enough to taste as you cook. Everyone's palates differ. Some prefer garlic. Others salt. 

I tend to go lighter with the seasonings because you can always add but you can't take away.

* I stick with sourdough bread because Publix makes it without soybean oil. But you can use whatever bread you want. *

Happy rustic cooking! 

 

 

    

 

  

Jicama What?

Jicama.
What the heck is jicama?

ji·ca·ma
ˈhikəmə,ˈhē-/Submit
noun
noun: jicama
the crisp, white-fleshed, edible tuber of a Central American climbing plant of the pea family ( Pachyrhizus erosus, family Leguminosae ), cultivated since pre-Columbian times and used especially in Mexican cooking. *thank you, Google dictionary*

The benefits of jicama are amazing. 

Boosts the immune system.
Helps digestion. 
Low in calories.
Favored if potatoes aren't your thing. 
Improves blood flow, brain function, and makes you a unicorn.
It doesn't make you a unicorn, but one can dream. 

Unfamiliar with the vegetable I was excited to experiment. From my previous post, I Speak French Fries making jicama fries in the air fryer mimics the potato fries process. The only difference is you must peel the jicama skin. Don't use a peeler. I used my Global G-2 Chef's Knife and cut a thin slice to create a flat surface. I found it peeled more comfortable after a bit of refrigeration. It also worked better with my french fry cutter. 

Again you can slice them without the fry cutter, but it's an excellent kitchen contraption to have, New Star Foodservice 43204 Commercial Grade French Fry Cutter.

Preheat the air fryer to 385

In the bowl drizzle light tasting olive oil over the jicama. Shake. Add your favorite seasoning. I prefer CampMix (my go to), but you can use season salt or just salt and pepper. It depends on the level you enjoy your fries. Some like salty and crispy others like less salt and not full-on crispy. 

Pour into the air fryer basket. Cook for about 30 minutes. Depending on desired crispiness. The jicama takes a bit longer. Every 7-10 minutes shake the jicama in the basket or use a spatula to move them about for an even cook.

The jicama has more crunch to it. When we asked our teenager which he preferred the potato or jicama fries he chose the jicama. We were pleasantly surprised. Logan is sensitive to textures, and we were thrilled he tried and loved them.

Win for us. 

WHAT YOU'LL NEED:

Air Fryer - preheat 380

A way to slice the jicama into even cuts

One jicama fed two people

Light tasting olive oil

Seasonings of your choice (Uber fan of CampMIX) 

    

 

 

Can I Lick My Plate?

Pesto spaghetti squash with a poached egg is our newest obsession. I make it once a week at least. The runny yolk adds creaminess to the dish, and we're quite sad when it's over. 

Most pestos at the grocery store either have 100 ingredients or contain soybean oil. I make my own with a fun added herb. Mint.

This is one dish I don't use my air fryer or instant pot. Yes, I kick it old school with the oven. Roasted spaghetti squash with garlic, olive oil, and CampMix makes me a happy woman. And my house smells delicious. I cook the squash the night before, The Foolproof, Step-by-Step Guide to Cooking Spaghetti Squash, I add a few cloves of garlic and fresh basil for aromatics. I also make the pesto the night before and pour a little over the spaghetti squash in the Tupperware bowl; it soaks in all the awesomeness. 

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My grandma made fried macaroni and cheese when I was younger. Best thing in the world. I used the concept for the spaghetti squash. I added Earth Balance Soy Free buttery spread in the cast iron and fried up the squash a bit. As it cooked, I added the pesto (save some for the top of the poached egg). Once it's nice and hot, drop to simmer and work on the poached egg.  

I know many who are intimidated of the poached egg. Don't be. The options to cook it in your instant pot are fantastic, but it didn't work for me. I use a saucepan of water, olive oil, salt, boil, stir and 2 minutes later have a beautifully poached egg. A slotted spoon is also needed.     

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I look forward to making this dish for my friends. 

Ingredients for Pesto

Basil

About 1/4 cup minced garlic

1 cup extra light olive oil 

A few mint leaves

Squirt of lemon

Dash of crushed red pepper

Dash CampMix 

In the food chopper, I have the KitchenAid 3.5-Cup Food Chopper, fill to top with basil leaves and a few mint leaves. Add garlic and seasonings. Blend. After I dry mix, I use a spoon and scrape the mixture back into the middle. I found this method blends better especially if some of the basil and mint leaves don't thoroughly chop up. 

Add the olive oil and lemon (watch out for the seeds). Chop again.

Please taste. I can't emphasize enough to taste as you cook. Everyone's palates differ. Some prefer garlic. Others salt. 

I tend to go lighter with the seasonings because you can always add but you can't take away.

How to Poach an Egg

Fill a saucepan with water

Add a tablespoon of olive oil and Himalayan Pink Sea Salt

Bring to a boil

Crack an egg into a bowl

Use slotted spoon to stir the boiling water into a vortex

Carefully pour the egg into the water

Timer: 2 minutes (I use my phone)

I've noticed with an electric stove I've had to slide the pan halfway off the heat or lower the amount of water I put in. I've had boil overflow issues before. I miss my gas stove.     

Lift the egg out with the slotted spoon.

Did you make this dish? Added anything to it? Am I fabulous? What are your opinions about poached eggs? Should I do a video?   

 

 

 

I Speak French Fries

My son is a die-hard french fry fanatic. Since he was little, it was all about the french fries and ketchup. Ore Ida was our go-to brand until I started to read the ingredients. In 2015 I was diagnosed with a soy allergy, on top of already having a sensitivity to lactose. Did I mention I have IBS? Good times. My initial thought was, what the hell am I going to eat? Soy is in almost EVERYTHING. Even vitamins and seasonings. The IBS peppermint oil capsules I was taking had soy in them. Really? 

Since then I've educated myself about food, as has our son. When he read soybean oil on the ingredient list for Ore Ida french fries, Logan no longer wanted to eat them, and we didn't blame him. 

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                                                                Ew

Our solution was simple. Make homemade fries in our air fryer

We searched on Amazon for a fry cutter and found this beauty.

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New Star Foodservice 43204 Commercial Grade French Fry Cutter for $89.95. We could hand cut the potatoes, but we decided to go this route. Easy to cut and easy cleanup. Worth the investment. 

Let's get to the good stuff. How to make delicious homemade french fries with a bit of olive oil and seasonings.

I use russet potatoes. Skin and everything. Put your potatoes in the refrigerator. They will cut easier.

For two people I use three potatoes really, it depends on the size of the potatoes. When our son has his friends over the teenagers can quickly go through 5lbs of potatoes. The homemade fries are a huge deal for them.

You'll get an arm workout. But the suction cups help a great deal. I tip the bowl into the fry cutter; the potatoes fall right in. 

Preheat the air fryer to 380

In the bowl drizzle light tasting olive oil over the potatoes. Shake. Add your favorite seasoning. I prefer CampMix (my go to), but you can use season salt or just salt and pepper. It depends on the level you enjoy your fries. Some like salty and crispy others like less salt and not full-on crispy. 

Pour into the air fryer basket. Cook for about 25-30 minutes. Depending on desired crispiness. Every 7-10 minutes shake the potatoes in the basket or use a spatula to move them about for an even cook. 

I add a dash of salt and boom! Delicious homemade fries without all the ick ingrediants.

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Is it more work than popping fries in the microwave or oven? Yes. But I feel there is value to homemade meals. You know what you are eating. You're feeding your body a better way. It's also fun when the family gets involved. For us, cooking together is our time to talk about our day, discuss life, or sing weird songs. We have food fights. We get messy. We have fun and enjoy one another. Cooking for my boys brings me happiness, it's also an excellent stress reliever. My recipes may not look fancy. I don't do the videos. My camera is six years old. But I cook from the heart, and I want to share my joy with you. 

If you make one of my recipes, please let me know how it turns out. What personal touch did you add? I'd love to see your photos. 

Now get yourself an air fryer. Trust me; you'll thank me later. 

What You'll Need:

Air Fryer - preheat 380

A way to slice the potatoes into even cuts

1 bag of russet potatoes - use as many as you want

Light tasting olive oil

Seasonings of your choice (Uber fan of CampMIX)

 

 

 

 

Oh-Dear-It's-The-Holiday-Season Winetini

'Tis the season of chaos and merriment. 

Family and friends.

Gatherings. 

People-ing.

Never fear, I am here to aid you in your holiday quest for a drink to silence the bickering between your mother and Great-aunt Nettie on the proper way to set a table.

Hush the teenage drama due to your daughter's boyfriend who gifted her a lovely "ruby" ring that turned her finger green. Obviously, their love is tainted.

Quiet the political debate between grandpa and your uncle's third wife. Not current politics but sometime between Roosevelt (does it matter which one) and Nixon. Or maybe they were talking about soap?

Oh well, you're sipping your winetini and munching on more holiday Chex-Mix. 

That stuff is crack. 

Of course, there are plus sides to the holiday season, it's called limited edition booze.

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Candy Cane Winietini  

2 oz Smirnoff Peppermint Twist *scratch and sniff bottle* 

2 oz Kungfu Girl Riesling

2 oz Pure Cranberry Juice - I use Lakewood 100% Juice

                                             For those who appreciate visuals like myself. 

                                            For those who appreciate visuals like myself. 

Rim the glass with sugar but you could also use crushed candy canes.

On one plate I poured a bit of the cranberry juice and another the sugar. The red from the juice adds a hint of color to the sugar when you rim it. 

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, Smirnoff, wine, and juice. Shake well. Pour into martini glass.

Also, you could garnish with fresh cranberries. 

I'm not a huge fan of garnishes. More stuff to drink around or pick out of my glass. 

The combination of peppermint and cranberry blend well with the medium sweet Riesling. Not overly tart. Not overly sweet. Warms and refreshes as it goes down. I usually stick with equal parts. I want to enjoy my winetini's and not have my husband have to hold my hair back in the bathroom 5 hours later.

I hope you enjoy this delicious winetini and please tell me if you make it and what your thoughts are.

Skol and Happy Holidays!

  

    

 

Say Hello To My Little Friend

I was introduced to the air fryer this past summer by a dear friend. She raved about how awesome and easy it was. Immediately, I reached for my phone, pulled up the Amazon app and searched air fryer. A bit overwhelmed I scrolled down the page. I read reviews. Weighed my options but held off on the purchase because we were in the midst of relocating and the last thing I wanted to do was have another piece of kitchen equipment to pack.

When we settled into our new home an air fryer was one of the first things I purchased.

Simple Chef Air Fryer - Air Fryer For Healthy Oil Free Cooking - 3.5 Liter Capacity

                              Image from Amazon  Product description: Air fried french fries contain up to 70% less fat than deep fried french fries, so if you're looking for a guilt-free (or guilt-reduced) way to enjoy some of your favorite foods, it's time to join the air-frying revolution! The Simple Chef Air Fryer features temperature controls ranging from 180 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, a 30 minute standby timer, dishwasher safe non-stick basket and pan, rapid hot air circulation, overheat protection, and a satisfaction guarantee.

                             Image from Amazon

Product description: Air fried french fries contain up to 70% less fat than deep fried french fries, so if you're looking for a guilt-free (or guilt-reduced) way to enjoy some of your favorite foods, it's time to join the air-frying revolution! The Simple Chef Air Fryer features temperature controls ranging from 180 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, a 30 minute standby timer, dishwasher safe non-stick basket and pan, rapid hot air circulation, overheat protection, and a satisfaction guarantee.

It sells for $59.99. Great price, especially for air fryer newbies such as myself. The instructions guided me at what temperatures to cook chicken, pork chops, potatoes, etc. Through experimenting, I discovered those times and temperatures can be adjusted slightly. 

It had me at your-whole-chicken-is cooked-in-45-minutes. 

Oven? What oven?

Not having my oven on during summer in Florida made me a happy woman. 

The basket inside has holes and disconnects from the pan--where any drippings will go--both are dishwasher safe but I used my daily and hand washed it with soap and a dish scrubber. It's non-stick which made it easy.

The rapid hot air crisps chicken, browns pork chops and toasts up grilled cheese. There is a vent in the back. Don't touch it while it's on, it's quite hot. No oil is needed. I know, weird right? I still use a bit of olive oil when I make homemade french fries. The seasonings stick to the potatoes better. My son loves to cook steak and pork chops in it. The steak isn't as brown on the outside like if you grill it but it tastes delicious. I do preheat the air fryer for a couple of minutes.

It can comfortably fit two bone-in pork chops, 2-3 chicken breasts, and about 9-12 chicken drumettes. When I make french fries I shake them up every few minutes for even crispiness. The heating element is at the top of the air fryer.    

My one complaint with this model is after a few uses the latch which locked the pan into place was loose. At times, it would pop open a bit. I know I used it a lot but I thought it would last longer than 2 months. It stopped working one September afternoon. 

Darn it. I guess I'll have to purchase a bigger one. 

Avalon Bay Air Fryer, For Healthy Fried Food, 3.7 Quart Capacity

                       Image from Amazon  Product description: Avalon Bay is simply giving you the opportunity to fry, bake, grill or roast your food, but in a healthier way. Features: 3.2 liter oil-less air fryer includes 2 piece baking set and cookbook 30 minute timer non-slip feet removable basket for easy transfer of food temperature up to 400 degrees 1400 watts/120 volts. Don’t deep fry your food, air fry your food in this healthy mini convection oven. Air fryers work the same way as convection ovens, but better. 

                      Image from Amazon

Product description: Avalon Bay is simply giving you the opportunity to fry, bake, grill or roast your food, but in a healthier way. Features: 3.2 liter oil-less air fryer includes 2 piece baking set and cookbook 30 minute timer non-slip feet removable basket for easy transfer of food temperature up to 400 degrees 1400 watts/120 volts. Don’t deep fry your food, air fry your food in this healthy mini convection oven. Air fryers work the same way as convection ovens, but better. 

I decided on this one due to a number of positive reviews, and I didn't read anything about the latch loosening or the pan popping open. This one sells for $72.99.  

The added space does make a bit of difference when it comes to larger pieces of meat. Though a small cookbook (pamphlet) did accompany the air fryers, it's basic. I found more recipes and ideas on Pinterest. Quickly I became comfortable using my air fryer and doing my own thing. I love experimenting with food and creating new recipes.

One of the main reasons I love my air fryer is not only because it cuts down on cooking time but it has given my quirky teenage son the confidence to cook on his own. Logan has never been comfortable using the oven or stove. He'd do it, but there would be anxiety. With the air fryer, he can season ribs or pork chops, put them in the basket, set the timer and temperature and in less than 30 minutes have lunch. If I'm not home, I don't worry about anything homeowners-insurance- worthy to occur.

Logan's face of success when he plates his food warms this mamas soul.

Many teenagers don't know how to cook and when they leave the nest they tend to eat a lot of processed foods. I did the same thing when I was 17 and after I was married. I didn't teach myself to cook real food until after I was 30. I believe those processed foods contributed to my digestive and food allergies; I don't want Logan to go through that.

Plus, his future wife will thank me when he can whip up a lovely dinner under 45 minutes.

This small kitchen appliance has made a huge difference.

This review is just a woman and her thoughts.

There are many out there. Take your time and do your research. I'm asked all the time "What the heck is an air fryer?" I didn't know what it was either up until 5 months ago. We all lead busy lives, why not make it simpler and healthier? I hope I helped a little bit on your decision to purchase an air fryer.  

Logan and I are going to post our recipes in the coming weeks, stay tuned for those. We have some good ones. 

If you have questions, please feel free to ask. 

 

 

Feed Me Pizza And Tell Me I'm Pretty

Pizza.

Oh, how we love thee.

But most pizza joints use soybean oil in their dough.

My husband can't have tomatoes. I can't have lactose. Yes. We are walking food messes.

Publix does have pre-made dough but, you guessed it, soybean oil. Sigh.

That's it.

I had decided to make my own pizza. I'm not a measurement rule follower but with pizza dough, I had to be. Bobby Flay's recipe was the perfect find.

We don't have a stand mixer but our hand mixer worked great. 

While the dough was doing its thing, I shred the cheese and made the pesto. 

Since my husband can't have tomatoes, I  made a pesto with black truffle sea salt. For the cheese, I used free of lactose Cabot Farmhouse Reserve Cheddar Cheese. It has a parmesan taste to it. A bit sharp but not overwhelming. Another lactose-free favorite is Applegate Provolone.  

In the food chopper, I have the KitchenAid 3.5-Cup Food Chopper, fill to top basil leaves. Add garlic and seasonings. Black truffle sea salt is strong. You won't need much. Blend. After I dry blend, I use a spoon and scrape the mixture back into the middle. I have found that this method blends better. Especially if some of the basil leaves don't fully chop up. 

Add the olive oil. Chop again.

Please taste. I can't emphasize enough to taste as you cook. Everyone's palates differ. Some prefer garlic. Others salt. 

I tend to go lighter with the seasonings because you can always add but you can't take away.

The pesto can sit while your pizza dough is completing its awesomeness.

When the dough is ready per the Bobby Flay recipe, preheat your open to 400 degrees.  

With the pizza ball of dough, I used a flour covered wooden roller and sprinkled a bit extra on the counter. When it's rolled out, put it on your pizza pan.  

Spoon and spread the pesto over the dough. My dough was not a perfect circle on my pizza pan. Oh well. Imperfect works better for me. Sprinkle on cheese. We went heavy in that department because it's too good not to. 

Cook until the cheese is brown and bubbly, which is 20-25 minutes.  

The end result was beyond delicious. 

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The earthiness of the basil but the subtle bursts of garlic and the black truffle sea salt blend awesomely with the cheese. 

The crust was crispy but not break-a-tooth crispy.

No chewiness. 

A welcomed add to the football season food rotation. 

Ingredients

Basil

About 1/4 cup minced garlic

1 cup extra light olive oil 

Dash of crushed red pepper

Dash of malabar black pepper 

Dash of San Francisco Salt Co. Black Truffle Sea Salt

Dash CampMix (optional)

 

 

 

   

Swedish Meatballs - Beck Renovated

Christmas.
1988.
A savory but sweet aroma filled my grandparent's house. The cozy kitchen packed with family. My grandpa cranked the window to let out the heat from the overworked oven; my grandma fanned herself with an oven mitt. I’d watch the bustle about as food shuttled into the dining room. 
Mashed potatoes. 
Rolls.
But what everyone wanted was the Swedish meatballs.     
Growing up, I loved watching my grandparent’s cook and bake. Even a simple grilled cheese was special to me. 
It was made with love. 
My Swedish meatball recipe differs from the one I grew up eating, but it’s still made with love. It is soy allergy friendly, but that doesn’t mean it lacks taste. It is also lactose-free. With all my recipes, I urge people to use them as a foundation but make them their own.  Adjust ingredients. I want to give you that bridge and show you great food can be created with alternatives. 
Many memories have been made in the kitchen while cooking. Stories shared. Laughter. That is what makes food great.

Over the years, I've been asked by many for this recipe.

Here it is.

For the most part measured out. I'm a trial and error cook. I taste everything.  

Gather your breadcrumb goodness.

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Panera's Country Loaf is soy free but if that isn't an issue for you, please use whatever bread you like. Rosemary, Thyme, and garlic are also on the list.

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Many people know I'm a huge fan of CampMix and use it often in my recipes. Black Truffle Sea Salt is optional, but I add it for a little extra flavor.

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Cube your bread. I do the entire loaf because leftovers make excellent salad croutons. 

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Combine the seasonings, herbs, and garlic into the chopper. 

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Pour olive oil over the bread until every piece is coated. Combine the mixture and bread crumbs. Preheat oven to 390. Spread them out on a cooking sheet. Bake until golden brown. Leave your oven on 390 for the meatballs.

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Allow those to cool. 

Depending on how much you want in the meatball mixture, I pour all of my bread into a food processor. It will grind up in different sizes, which I like. 

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Put the breadcrumbs aside.

Time for the meatballs.

I know many meatball recipes use beef and pork, I do not. When available I use bison, but typically I use ground sirloin. The reason I go this route? The meat soaks up all the gravy awesomeness while in the crockpot. There's nothing heavy about the meatballs.

Typically, I use 2lbs of beef. When cooking for just my family, I use a little over a 1lb.

In a bowl, combine beef, egg, breadcrumbs (go light and add as you go) a splash of water, and sprinkle on a bit more CampMix. When you make a meatball, make sure each one has some breadcrumbs. If they don't, add more to the mixture.

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I do use non-stick foil but also dab on a bit of olive oil.

Cook until brown. Usually between 20-25 minutes. I always cut one in half to check the middle. If it's a bit pink, that's okay because the meatballs will be cooking in the crockpot for a couple of hours. 

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As the meatballs do their thing in the oven, it's time to work on the gravy. 

In a pan, on medium heat, melt the butter. Add flour. Whisk. Add beef broth. Bring to a simmer. Add in the white part (at the top) into the gravy. This works as an excellent dairy substitute. Most Swedish meatball recipes use heavy cream or sour cream. It adds a bit of sweetness to the gravy. The gravy will thicken more in the crockpot. I sprinkle in a small amount of Black Truffle Sea Salt. Whisk and carefully pour into the crockpot. 

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The crockpot should be on a low setting. About an hour in, I'll bump up the heat.  

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Add the meatballs. Slowly. Even all the goodness on the foil. Stir in and add more meatballs. Depending on the number of batches. It's 1lb per cooking sheet. 

Stir occasionally. 

The house will smell delicious. 

2 - 3 hours later...

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During holidays I will add lingonberry jam to the dish. The taste is similar to a cranberry sauce. The combination of lingonberry, mashed potatoes, and meatballs is a trifecta of euphoric bliss. Food coma will happen.

After you dish out some meatballs, turn the crockpot to keep warm. They are even better 3 hours later when the post-dessert grazing starts.  

Ingredients

For the breadcrumbs:

1 loaf of bread

 A few sprigs of rosemary and thyme

2 cloves of garlic

CampMix

Black Truffle Sea Salt

For the meatballs:

1 cup(ish) of breadcrumbs

1lb of ground sirloin 

1/2lb of bison (if available)

1 large egg - free range 

A splash of water

For the gravy:

4 tablespoons of butter

4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

2 cups of beef broth

3 tablespoons of coconut milk (white at the top)

CampMix 

 

CampMix purchased here.

San Francisco Black Truffle Sea Salt purchased here