I love Pecan Pie! Of course, since it is not very good for me, I only eat it at Thanksgiving & Christmas. I hate the thought of making pecan pie using corn syrup, so off to the kitchen I went to experiment. I know this post is a little late, but I wanted to perfect the recipe before I shared it.
Everyone can stand to save a few penny’s here and there. We all try to save money on the major stuff like electricity, water, groceries, but we tend to overlook a very expensive part of daily life. Our Beauty Regimens!
It started for me having some peri-menopausal skin irruptions. I think I bought everything on the market and nothing was working. I was left with a closet full of useless stuff!!!! I have ultra sensitive skin and seem to be allergic to every hand soap, detergent, body wash on the market, so I was already spending more money buying vegetable based, chemical free products. Being a huge Pinterest fan that I am, I started pinning chemical free recipes. I was skeptical at first too, but have come to realize purchasing beauty products, are about convenience.
So, here are some links to my favorite products that I have personally tested and approved. If you do not have the time, please check out my Etsy store, http://www.etsy.com/shop/LivinTheKeys, where I have started selling some of these All Natural, Chemical Free Products with many more to come!
This one was a big one for me. I purchased several glass foam pumps from Bed, Bath & Beyond and have already gotten my money back out of it. Now I can change the scents anytime I want and do not have to worry about breaking out in hives
My husband is funny about eating soup any time of the year other than the winter. Being in the Florida Keys, we really do not have a real winter. (for which I am very grateful) What we do tend to get are cold fronts a couple of times a month that may drop us into the 60′s during our worst winter months. (Dec – Jan) For him, this is the time for soup or anything hearty, no other time. I could eat soup everyday, especially for lunch, but it must be homemade. (I know I am a food snob) Soup is one of the easiest things to throw together by basically seeing what you have on hand. The day Tropical Storm Isaac came thru I realized I had an abundance of tomatoes, so my first thought was Tomato Basil Soup w/ Dill and Grilled Cheese on Homemade Bread for lunch. This particular soup he does not mind eating any time of the year. It is light and bursting with flavor. You could actually eat it cold, The original recipe came from my Mother-in-law from a cookbook called “Small Plates”. Of course, I have modified it to our tastes and make it a little healthier and if I had to guess, she probably made some modifications her too!
1T Romano or Parmesan Cheese, (I use Locatelli Romano)
¼ – ½ c Milk or Cream
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
On a sheet pan place tomato halves, skin side up
Drizzle with olive oil, salt and black pepper
Cut top off of head of garlic and wrap in foil
Drizzle with olive oil, salt and black pepper and wrap in a ball.
Roast both the pan of tomatoes and garlic in the oven for 15-20 minutes, ensuring skins do not burn.
When tomatoes are finished, remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Continue roasting garlic until it begins to caramelize.
Remove and allow to cool until you can safely squeeze out the cooked cloves.
In a saucepan, add tomatoes, ½ of the clove of roasted garlic, basil, dill, salt and pepper and stock.
Simmer for 15-20 minutes allowing all of the flavors to come together.
Add cream and continue to simmer another 5-10 min. Use only the amount of liquid to your liking.
Top off with Romano Cheese and a pinch of dill.
You can remove the skins of the tomatoes once they are cool enough to handle. I usually leave them on and always pulse the tomatoes and roasted garlic in my Vitamix. It breaks up the bigger pieces, but feel free to puree if that is how you prefer it.
To make this dish Vegan or Dairy Free use Vegetable stock and omit the milk and cheese. Roast a Zucchini squash along with the tomatoes, puree and add to thicken or just simply puree the soup. You can also use a nut milk, if you prefer.
Do you have a special cake you always ask for as your “Birthday Cake”? I always had my Grandmother bake me a Red Velvet Cake with Traditional Cooked Icing. My father, on the other hand, always asked my Grandmother to make his favorite Banana Nut Cake. She could not make that cake for anyone else but him, and she never tried. She actually would make him two of these cakes, one for him and one to share. When my Grandmother got older and it became too difficult for her to do, I would “help” her make it. Eventually the tradition was passed to me with the original cake pans. This past November things were very busy, so I was told I did not need to make his cake, that he understood we had a lot going on. He insisted. My father loves or should I say lives to aggravate me. He intentionally will do things to even make me cry. (I know, right) It worked when I was younger, but now he has a much tougher time at it. With that being said, you will understand this story a little better.
A couple of weeks ago we were hosting the employees of our Catering Company as an end of the year party / tasting party. We were trying a bunch of new things to put on our menu for the upcoming catering season. We had the kitchen a wreck and we were a bit what we say “in the weeds”. Never making the twelve items we choose to serve that night compounded with the fact they were all pretty complicated items in a tiny kitchen with two of us trying to work around each other. My father picks this moment in time to inform me that I failed to make him a birthday cake this past year. He continually asked me over and over where’s my cake, why did I need get my cake, what have I done to deserve not getting my cake!! Hello, could you have picked a better time? My answer was, “If you wait a few more months it will be your birthday again”. So I decided just to make his damn cake, because I will never hear the end of it!
We have a large Italian influence in New Orleans, so when I cook Italian, it is what I like to call Creole Italian. Italian with a twist! One of my favorite dishes is Chicken Cacciatore. (I think because I like to say the word, Cacciatore) It’s quick, easy and tasty! This recipe is inspired by a dish from Mosca’s Restaurant, a family owned local Italian restaurant on the out shirts of New Orleans. I have adapted the recipe to my tastes and to cook in a slow cooker for when I know I will be out of the house all day. I serve it with homemade pasta and a simple saute of Red Russian Kale with White Balsamic Vinegar. (To make it GF, it would be delish over “Zucchini” Spaghetti, Qunioa, or Rice Pasta)
Chicken Cacciatore w/ Homemade Fettuccine & Sauted Kale
Author: Danni Becker
Recipe type: Entree
4 -6 pieces of Chicken
¼ c Olive Oil
1½ T Rosemary
1½ T Oregano
12-14 Cloves of Garlic, smashed with back of knife
½ c Dry White Wine
1½ c Tomato Sauce (I used fresh pureed tomatoes)
1 t Black Pepper
1 t White Pepper
1 t Cayenne Pepper
½ t Salt
1 T Olive Oil
Season chicken pieces, liberally on both sides.
Heat olive oil in skillet over medium to high hear.
Add chicken, cooking until browned. Turn often.
Add garlic, rosemary, and oregano and a light coating of seasoning mix.
Add wine pouring over chicken. (take caution or remove from heat)
Add tomato sauce.
Simmer for 20 – 30 minutes until chicken is cooked and tender and sauce has thickened.
Combine to form dough. Roll out into sheets and cut into desired shape. We use a pasta maker I picked up at the Salvation Army which makes it much easier. Bring water to a boil and boil until tender.
To cook in Slow Cooker:
Follow Above directions. Add contents into slow cooker and set on low 4-5 hours. 30 minutes prior to serving, take lid off and allow to simmer on low to thicken sauce
Seasoning Mix: I know you are thinking this sounds like it will be spicy, but trust me it will not. After you add the additional light seasoning, let it cook for 10 -15 minutes and taste your sauce to check the seasoning. Feel free to add as much as you would like, and do not feel bad if you have seasoning mix leftover. But do not omit it, it is an important component of this dish.
Well, we are as ready as we can be for a direct hit by Isaac. After going through Hurricane Katrina, and memories of what it was like after Hurricane Wilma, I am a little nervous thinking of all the items that are not in my pantry.(it is well stocked) Putting on a big pot of Red Beans and Rice and a pot of Shrimp Étouffée on the stove to keep myself busy, as waiting is the worst part. At least we know the neighbors will be well feed no matter what mess we have to clean up tomorrow. Well wishes to everyone!
Chicken Piccata, is a go to meal when I just cannot figure out what to cook or I did not plan for dinner. It is relatively quick and easy and did I mention it is tasty? I serve it along side whole wheat pasta, fresh pasta if I am in the mood to make it, quinoa, or rice pilaf.
Of course, I do not have a recipe, but I have made one for you. This is not the classical version, it is my version. The key to a good PIccata is to taste as you go along. I like mine very tart, with lots of black pepper and enjoy the briny taste of the capers, so much so, I add a little a the caper liquid.
Here in the Keys, we get our bounty round about April and May and into early June, before it gets to wickedly hot. I grew a wonderful assortment of the best Heirloom Tomatoes I have ever grown or even eaten. My husband being a fishing guide, would have me slice two whole tomatoes to put in the cooler for he and his client to eat as a refreshing afternoon snack. Some of them were more like a meal, but they enjoyed them and looked forward to them every day. We did this for weeks, not to mention sharing our bounty with friends, neighbors and family. I wish I would have kept a count! And of course with all the wonderful, fresh Heirloom Tomatoes, it was a given that we would have to make fresh mozzarella to complete a Caprese Salad. I like to reduce Balsamic Vinegar into a glaze to drizzle over the top.
I have a wonderful Cheese Book Ricki Carroll’s – Home Cheese Making, in which I used the recipe for making Mozzarella Cheese. I have made many cheeses from this book and think it is a great investment, if you are interested in the Art of making cheese. The book has everything you need to know including directions for making starters, information in regards of equipment, etc. There is even a Mozzarella Cheese making kit, with everything you need, directions and all. If you cannot find your ingredients locally I listed via my Amazon Sidebar under Kitchen Must Have’s for your convenience.
If you have ever been interested in making cheese, this is so easy and lots of fun! If you have children, it is a great activity to get them involved in. Just use caution, because the cheese can get very hot! Nothing like Fresh Mozzarella!
A few months back, we catered an event and the client requested Chicken Satay. The problem with satay is the fear of the chicken drying out. We did a couple of test runs to come up with the perfect technique to make sure we could deliver a quality product. That is where my husband comes in. He is the Test Monkey! (I do not think he really minds) Lucky for him there are more hits, than misses and I can certainly count on him to give me his honest opinion.
The final product was a combination of several recipes put together with some of my personal tweaks. My husband loved it so much, he has bugged me to make it again. So, I served the traditional street food with some steamed Jasmine Rice and Snow Peas that I simply stir fried in sesame oil to make it a main meal. If there are leftovers, he already has in mind to make spring rolls, with the chicken, peanut sauce, rice noodles & fresh herbs wrapped in rice paper. (He can make a wrap out of anything)
You many notice that I LOVE Indian Food. I could eat it multiple times a week. My husband cannot. I crave it, so I have to count the days in between to make sure enough time has elapsed to get approval at the dinner table.
I cooked three pounds of chickpeas earlier in the week to use for various things. (trying to stay away from canned products) I was itching to do something Indian, so I pulled them out the fridge. I got pre approval of course and threw this together. Having cooked chickpeas on hand-made it so quick and easy! This recipe is Vegan, but you can easily add yogurt in place of coconut milk for a more traditional Indian Dish.
2-3 T Ghee, (Clarified Butter) or oil of your choice
1 onion, chopped
1 Tomato, chopped
1 t tumeric
2 t each of cumin powder & seeds
2 t each of coriander powder & seeds
½ t red pepper (or to taste)
2 t garam masala
3-4 cloves of garlic
2″ piece of ginger root
1 to 2 cans coconut milk
1 pound of cooked chickpeas
Heat Ghee in pan over medium high heat.
Add onions cooking until translucent. Turn down to medium heat.
Add all dry seasoning and cook until oils begin to release.
In high-speed blender or food processor, add ginger root, garlic and cashews. Blend until paste is formed.
Add to seasoning mixture and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add tomatoes and cook until 2-3 minutes.
Add chickpeas, incorporating well.
Add coconut milk, a little at a time.
Simmer until sauce has thickened. Add additional coconut milk, if required.
I sometimes add cauliflower, peas or other vegetables that I have on hand. Serve over Basmati Rice with Naan Bread & Ginger Pickle. We had a side of homemade yogurt because the heat level was a little high.