Comfort

Ew, People Winetini

Because of the holidays.

Because of family.

Because of people.

Enough said.

Ew.

Ingredients

Ice cubes

3oz cranberry juice

2oz Peppermint Vodka

2oz dry white wine (I prefer Sauvignon Blanc or Dry Riesling)

Sugar for glass

Cranberries for garnish

Directions

Fill shaker with ice about three-fourths. Add cranberry juice, vodka, and wine. Shake.

On a two plates, pour a bit of cranberry juice on it, sugar on the other. Rim the martini glass with sugar.

Pour into the glass. Garnish with fresh cranberries.

Tart but sweet. Refreshing.

And after a couple, you won’t be bothered by 2nd cousin Joe and his excessive need to share in great detail his colonoscopy at the dinner table.

Happy Ew Holidays from The Rustic Woman!







Butternut Squash Rice

Throughout my journey of food allergies and IBS finding ways to adjust my eating lifestyle were not always easy.

Rice and I have a complicated relationship. Many have suggested cauliflower "rice" and as much as I'd love for that to work for me, it won't.

One size doesn't fit all.

We all process foods differently.

What I have found works for me in butternut squash. It's versatile. Perfect texture for different recipes. Full of magnesium. Spiraled butternut squash can be found at the local supermarket but spiraling or shreading your own is much more cost effective.

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash (You won’t use the entire squash. When I shred mine I get about 11-12 cups)

1/2 red pepper chopped

Olive oil light tasting (garlic infused oil)

Seasonings of your choice. I used Primal Palate Garlic and Herb and an organic all-season salt.

Directions:

Here is a tutorial on how to cut butternut squash. The only difference is I don’t use a peeler, I cut the skin with a knife, and for the squash to fit in the shredder I cut it in fourths the long way.

Spiral or shed the squash. I use the Presto 02970 Professional SaladShooter Electric Slicer/Shredder.

In a pan or cast iron skillet add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. I prefer garlic infused oil. Add about two cups of the squash and the diced red pepper. Add seasonings. On high heat stir everything together. Cover with a lid, not entirely. Allow some of the steam out. Stir every minute or so, about 3-4 minutes in drop the heat to medium-low. Sometimes I add a bit more oil and seasonings.

Taste as you go.

You will notice the squash start to break down and soften. This will only take 5-7 minutes. Don’t let it burn. It will happen quickly if not watched.

For a snack or light dinner, I will add a splash of coconut whole fat milk and curry powder for creamy, spicy rice.

But my husband is a fan of the coconut curry chicken with the butternut squash rice.

When foods are eliminated for medical purposes, it’s a frustrating process to go through. And there are days I get angry because I can’t eat certain fruits or vegetables. I can’t grab a Peppermint Patty or a slice of pizza. Or go out to eat any restaurant I want.

I try to create solutions. Not just for me but for others.

Products used in this recipe:




Easy Homemade Teenager Approved Marinara Sauce

My son LOVES homemade basketti sauce.

He's 18 and doesn't say it like that anymore, but his love of marinara remains. Logan could probably eat it daily. It's an easy, quick recipe and perfect for noodles, zoodles, or pizza.

I started my own herb garden three months ago -- grew from seed babies -- and was eager to use fresh basil, sage, and oregano in the marinara sauce. Something is rewarding about using your own homegrown herbs.

I'm shocked I haven't killed them yet.    

Knock on wood. 

The seasonings I use are from great businesses. If you know my recipes you know I use CampMix with everything. Adds flavor and kick to all dishes. 

Primal Palate seasonings are soy and gluten-free and kosher. 

Let's get to the recipe. You don't need an overdrawn story about marinara sauce. And I have some in my refrigerator begging to be used.

Ingredients

28oz. can crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons of light tasting olive oil or garlic infused olive oil

4 tablespoon of minced garlic

Chopped fresh basil and oregano (handful)

*CampMix (a blend of garlic, onion, black pepper, salt, celery salt, and white pepper) 

*Primal Palate Garlic & Herb 

*season to taste*

Instructions

Place oil and garlic in a medium saucepan. Saute over medium heat until the garlic starts to sizzle, roughly a 1 minute.

Pour the tomatoes into the saucepan, basil and oregano, and seasonings, stir to combine.

TASTE AS YOU GO. 

I add quite a bit of the CampMix. We favor garlic and pepper, but some don't. It's all about your palate.  

Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for about 20 - 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. If the sauce is bubbling too much -- Jackson Pollock your floor and stove --, reduce the heat.

It saves beautifully in a mason jar.

My homemade bread recipe would work perfectly with this delicious sauce. *wink*

Products used in this recipe

 

 

 

 

 

Soy Free Simple Bread

Somedays I want bread.

*gasp*

Somedays I want avocado toast not avocado smash on sweet potatoes or squash or bark.

Bread. White bread because my IBS isn’t all that fond of wheat anything. It’s a complicated relationship.

Toasted ever so lightly with delicious avocado smash with a runny yolk egg. Mmmmmmm, I know what I’m making for lunch.

Most bread out there in the United States are made with soybean oil. Great. I’ll die. The only bread at Publix I can consume is sourdough, but the ingredient list is extensive. No thank you.

My magnificent husband was on a bread mission. One he could make bread at home, and it is soy and dairy-free.

He succeeded.

Ingredients


1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
2-1/4 cups warm water (110° to 115°)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons light tasting olive oil (you could also use garlic infused olive oil)
6-1/4 to 6-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Directions


In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add sugar, salt, oil and 3 cups flour. Beat until smooth (arm workout). Stir in enough remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to form a soft dough.
Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled which takes about 1-1/2 hours.
Punch dough down (think about that annoying co-worker or your sister-in-law). Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide dough in half. Shape each into a loaf. Place in two greased 9x5-in. loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, 30-45 minutes.
Bake at 375° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and bread sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

Behold the glory!

Perfect for avocado toast. The bread soaked up the yolk.

Nirvana!

Products used in this recipe

Swedish Meatballs - 2018 UPDATE

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.

When available I use bison, but typically I use beef and pork.

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

In a bowl, combine beef, pork, breadcrumbs (go light and add as you go) 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. 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

Fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage

2 cloves of garlic

CampMix (salt, pepper, white pepper, garlic salt, and celery salt)

For the meatballs:

Breadcrumbs

1lb of 92/8 beef

1/2lb 80/20 beef

1/2lb of bison (if available) or 1/2lb of pork 

For the gravy sauce (optional):

1/3 cup butter

1/4 cup of all-purpose flour

1 cup beef broth

2 tablespoons of the beef/pork fat from the pan

3 tablespoons of coconut milk (white at the top)

CampMix 

 

CampMix purchased here.

Products used in this recipe: 

 

 

 

Crab Pizza

I looked at my husband the other night and expressed my craving for pizza and crab cakes, but I didn't want to make both. 
How about crab pizza?
He raised his brow. I sensed his skepticism which made me want to make it all that much more. He suggested we make our pesto pizza for back up. 
Just in case.
I agreed but was confident the crab would taste delicious. 
In the end, I was right.
Duh.

My husband uses Bobby Flay's Pizza Dough Recipe. I am looking into a coconut flour recipe for my gluten-free people. Cauliflower crusts are quite popular, but I am unable to eat those. I did find a few gluten-free premade crusts at our local Publix in the frozen section. 

The crab mixture is easy with minimal ingredients. I did have a bit of pesto leftover and added a spoonful. Chopped red and yellow peppers add color and flavor to the mixture.

Ready for the oven.

The result?

It tasted exactly like a crab cake. The crispness of the crust and saltiness of the crab was the perfect combination. The added peppers give another depth of flavor. And let me tell you, the leftovers were an amazing breakfast.  

There is a sprinkle of Cabot Farmhouse Reserve Cheddar Cheese. Don't be afraid of the cheese/seafood horror show. It's allowed with specific recipes. This particular cheese is a chameleon. It blends with whatever you add it to. I've mentioned it in previous recipes. I didn't use much, and I'd deem it optional. 

The pesto pizza was just as delicious. Not everyone loves seafood. 

Either pizza works for any gathering or football party. 

I live the most healthy lifestyle I can but you know what somedays I want carbs and cheese. I'm not going to shame myself for it. 

My body is an evolving creature and what works on Monday doesn't work on Thursday. I keep the medical profession on their toes. But that is for another day. Let's get to the important stuff.

Ingredients for Crab Mix

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

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)

1 red pepper (chopped)

1 yellow pepper (chopped)

1/2 lemon

A spoonful of fresh pesto (optional) 

Garlic infused olive oil (you can use light tasting olive oil) 

CampMix

Simply Organic all-seasons salt

Directions

In a bowl at crab meat, chopped peppers, squeeze of the lemon, and seasonings. Mix. Taste. If you want more seasonings or lemon add it in. Everyone's palette is different. 

With a brush or spoon spread the olive oil over the dough on a pizza pan (we use the Cuisinart Chef's Classic Nonstick Bakeware 14-Inch Pizza Pan) covering every inch. 

Spread the crab mixture. Allow room for a crust. 

Bake for *20 -25 minutes*. 

*We use an electric oven. Gas ovens may be different.* 

This is why I love cooking. 

Experiment with different ingredients. Laugh and share stories with my boys. All of our conversations gravitate to the kitchen. Logan is hopping up in the counter. Plotting world domination. Phil is discussing his day. 

It's our happy place.

Products used in this recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not Your Grandma's Tuna Fish Sandwich

As a child, I ate my fair share of tuna fish sandwiches. Mayo heavy. White Wonder Bread buttered. It always tasted better when my grandma made my sandwich. 
As an adult, I was sad to learn soy is in most tuna fish pouches/cans. 

Time to elevate the tuna fish sandwich with real ingredients.   

I was standing in my kitchen with leftover wild-caught sockeye salmon from dinner prior & hummus. Just as I'd combine the tuna and mayo together in a bowl, I did the same for the salmon and hummus. I went a step further and added a bit of homemade pesto.

My husband is always my guinea pig.

I toasted two pieces fo sourdough. Drizzled garlic infused oil of the bread, sprinkled a bit of CampMix. I took a bite. The texture was divine and perfect with the warm toasted bread. I could taste the lemon from the salmon, the freshness of the basil, and the spice from the hummus. I served the sandwich to my husband.

He took a bite, groaned, and smiled.

Approval.

I also added it to a spinach salad. Drizzled garlic infused oil over it.

Delish!  

I enjoyed the salmon mixture with a spinach salad with creamy brown rice. 

I don't think this needs a detailed instructional. Above I mentioned my spicy hummus and garlic infused oil, which is what I used in this recipe. The leftover salmon was poached in olive oil and lemon pepper seasoning the night before. Here is the pesto recipe as I don't have it as an individual post. 

Ingredients for Pesto

Basil

About 1/4 cup minced garlic

1 cup extra light olive oil (infused oil works too)

A few mint leaves

A squirt of Meyer Lemon

Dash of crushed red pepper (optional)

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.

This is a great alternative if you aren't a fan of mayonnaise and looking to try something new with fish.

Products used in this recipe

 

 

   

 

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!