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