cooking

Basil Me Happy

This brilliant herb blend of basil, thyme, mint, and sage brings everyday dishes to life.

Pasta.

Zoodles.

Spaghetti squash

Scrambled eggs.

Salmon.

It’s reminiscent to pesto. I added it to my scrambled eggs the other morning and fell in love.

Ingredients

Fresh basil

Fresh sage

Fresh thyme

Fresh mint

Clove of garlic

Himalayan pink salt

Black and white pepper

1 tablespoon Primal Palate - Amore seasoning (any Italian seasoning)

Instructions

In a small food chopper (I use KitchenAid 3.5 Cup Food Chopper) fill to the top basil leaves, a few thyme leaves, one sage leaf, couple of mint leaves, garlic, and seasonings. Chop. Taste. In my previous recipes, I always stress to taste as you go. This herb mix is a favorite with my boys. When I use it with noodles or veggies, I add light tasting olive oil. I add more of the Amore seasoning to the noodles or vegetables. The mix goes perfectly with scrambled eggs and toast. It saves great in the fridge.

Easy. Aromatic. Soy-Free.

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: 

 

 

 

Pesto Spaghetti Squash with a Poached Egg

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?   

 

 

 

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!

 

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) 

Products used in this recipe.

 

    

 

 

Pesto Spaghetti Squash with a Poached Egg

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. 

IMG_5205.JPG

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. 

                                                                Ew

                                                                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)

Products used in this recipe.

 

 

 

 

 

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)