Banana Oat Cranberry Walnut Cookies

19 Sep

I am in love with licorice tea. I get Yogi brand. It’s so fragrant and soothing and wonderful. I have tea every afternoon between 3:00 and 4:00. That’s very British of me, don’t you think?

But one cannot have tea alone. One must have something to dunk in the tea. Something edible with which to stir the delicate flavors of the cream, sugar, and herbal brew together in harmonious unison. Something to soak up the tasty liquid and devour delicately as one discusses the latest gossip and rumors.

And, frankly, Chips Ahoy and Oreos do nothing to help establish the sophisticated tone of the sacred “Tea Time.” So I endeavored to make my own, healthy, more refined tea time-designated cookies (or biscuits, as the Brits would say).

I love bananas. Bananas are an excellent source of potassium. Bananas are good (shout out to my fellow Whovians). And, have you tried making ice cream with frozen bananas? I make mine with honey and almond butter. Whip it all together in the food processor them stick it in the freezer to chill a bit. It’s a dream.

Back to the cookies.

I tried making banana-oat cookies last year and I liked them, but for some reason I never made them again. I was scrolling through the “food and drink” category on Pinterest the other day and I saw a couple of banana cookie recipes and it got me thinking about making another recipe.

I made these for my Mom, who loves cranberries. I’ve just gotten her interested in the blood type diet, which I’ve had a lot of success with (mostly a drastic reduction in illness, indigestion, and sluggishness). She’s a Type O, so she shouldn’t have wheat or peanuts, which are both ingredients in her favorite granola bars, which she eats every afternoon during tea time.

So I decided that I would make her something that met her blood type diet requirements, that tasted good, and that were nutritionally dense. I came up with these

Banana Oat Cranberry Walnut Cookies

Ingredients:

*1 cup mashed bananas (choose spotted bananas. The riper the banana, the more banana-ey the cookies will be)

*1 tsp vanilla

*1/2 tsp cinnamon

*1/4 tsp allspice

*1/4 tsp cloves

*2 tbs chia seeds

*2 tbs ground flax seed

*1 1/2 cups oats

*1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (or any other nut)

*1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped (or any other fruit)

*1/8 cup white chocolate chips, chopped (optional)

*Stevia or Splenda to taste (I didn’t add any sweetener to mine)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 and spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mash up a cup of banana. Stir in the vanilla and the spices (add any sweeteners to this bowl, too).

In another bowl, combine the chia seeds, flax seed, oats, nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate chips. Get it mixed together, then add it to the wet ingredients in the mixing bowl. Blend the ingredients together well.

Shape the dough with your hands into 1 1/2 to 2-inch cookies. Flatten them a bit and make sure they retain their shape. Bake them for 5-10 minutes. These cookies have a pleasant, subtle flavor. They are satisfying and full of natural flavor, which is what I like. They come out moist, soft, and chewy. If you like, you can pop them in the toaster oven to toast before you snack on them. This helps make them crunchier, if you like a crunchy cookie.

Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Treatment

12 Sep

I gotta tell you, the human body is a lot of trouble. It’s so needy. You’ve got to clean it several times a day. There are teeth to brush, nails to clip, hairs to comb, and other more unsightly hairs to trim or conceal.

Then you have entire muscle groups that need to be utilized, or else you run the risk of having them turn into flabby masses of dough that will completely let you down when you need them. You’ve got to hydrate and fuel and medicate at various degrees every day, depending upon your state of health and your nutrition and your lifestyle choices. Then, once you’ve taken care of every single one of your body’s requirements, it’s exhausted, so you have to sleep.

Your body dominates your life. You’re a slave to it. It’s weighing you down, man. But it knows that you can’t live without it, so really, the body has got a pretty sweet gig going. Bodies are clever sons of biscuits aren’t they?

I don’t know you, but I’m not going to lie. I’m as vain as the next person. I want to look nice. Or, at the very least, I wouldn’t want people to think that I shop at Wal-Mart. So, to prevent this from happening, I wash my hair. Also, I don’t go out in my pajamas. Plus, I respect my fellow man’s olfactory senses by applying deodorant every morning (you’re welcome).

But back to the hair thing. Texas is hot, but it really begins to mimic the devil’s fiery furnace during the summer months. Texans walk around like tater tots on a baking sheet–all crispy and golden and flaky on the outside, but tender and delicious within. Our skin gets dry and burned. We deal with it.

So, I wasn’t surprised when my scalp became kind of itchy and flaky. I’ve dealt with dandruff before. Just apply some T-gel grab a popsicle and go stand in front of the air conditioner. I’ll be fine.

Only, it didn’t get better. The flakes got worse. They weren’t the small, white flecks, similar to particles of dust, that I was accustomed to. These were mutant flakes. They were yellowish and large and with every flake I found, there were several strands of hair attached to it that had been pulled out by the root.

Panicked–despite my popsicle and beloved window unit–I hopped online. I typed in my problem. I learned about. . .

Seborrheic Dermatitis

It usually develops on oily regions of the body, especially the scalp, eyebrows, and ears. It can also affect the elbows, torso, back, hands, toes, and just about anywhere else. It’s a chronic condition that requires recurring treatment.

Seborrheic dermatitis causes scaly, crusty patches of skin called plaques, which can be red, pink, white, or yellow. They often become skin lesions due to scratching. The affected skin may be sore or inflamed.

Lots of things can bring on an attack of seborrheic dermatitis. Changes in the weather usually encourage symptoms. Fungal or bacterial infections are possible culprits. Stress, hormonal changes, and conditions that cause hormonal imbalances (such as PCOS) can encourage the sebaceous glands to produce more oil, resulting in a seborrheic dermatitis flare-up.

Seborrheic dermatitis can be uncomfortable and unsightly, but it isn’t a threat to your overall health. It is not contagious, it is not an allergy, nor is it caused by a lack of proper hygiene. Anybody can get it.

Doctors prescribe antifungals and corticosteroids to combat symptoms. Some recommend coal tar shampoos like T-Gel.

Well, I’d already tried the T-Gel, and I don’t like to take medications if I don’t have to. So, it was back to the search engine to look up home remedies. This is the one I found, and I’m so glad that I did.

Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse

I found this hair rinse in a hair care forum as a way to stop hair loss. The commenters who used this rinse said it made their hair more manageable, softer, shinier, stronger–everything I wanted my hair to be. People were also saying that it got rid of dandruff and put an end to scalp irritation. It sounded like the perfect remedy.

Even before discovering this rinse, I have always loved apple cider vinegar. It is good for treating sore throats, boosting the immune system, and treating a number of stomach ailments including gas, bloating, and heartburn. If there’s something wrong with you, chances are good that there is an apple cider vinegar remedy available for you to try.

Apple Cider Vinegar is the perfect remedy for Seborrheic Dermatitis for several reasons:

  1. It’s an anti fungal.
  2. It neutralizes itching and inflammation.
  3. It restores the natural pH balance of your scalp, removing excess oil, dead skin cells, and debris.
  4. It nourishes the scalp and provides the vitamins that you hair needs to grow.

I had all of the ingredients on hand. I mixed them up in a condiment bottle, for easy squirting action.

* 2 tbs Apple Cider Vinegar (I used Bragg’s. Use an unfiltered, raw vinegar with the Mother enzyme).

* 1/16 tsp cayenne pepper

* 10-12 ounces water

Here’s the procedure:

First, shampoo your hair using a sulfate-free shampoo. I use Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo and Conditioner. The ingredients are all things that I recognize and can pronounce. This is the best hair care line I’ve ever used. It leaves my hair manageable, soft, and silky. I highly recommend it. Starting at the scalp, work up a lather all the way down to the tips of your hair. Leave the shampoo in your hair for about two minutes, then rinse it out.

Take the rinse and give it a good shake. Beginning at your hairline, apply a steady squirt of the rinse in a line all the way back to where the hair ends on the back of your neck. Cover your scalp, especially the itchy, flaky, inflamed areas. You may not have to use all of the rinse, just make sure that you get some all over your hair. Let it sit for a minute, then rinse.

Lastly, apply a sulfate-free conditioner and leave it in for a minute or three. Rinse again, and you’re done.

When rinsing your hair try to use cool water, or at least room temperature. Hot water opens the hair shaft, which can encourage more of your hair to fall out. Towel dry most of the moisture out of your hair, then let it air dry the rest of the way.

This rinse is great. It keeps my hair from becoming oily, and I can go longer between washings. It brings out the natural curls in my hair and, true to what the commenters on that hair care forum were reporting, it made my hair soft, strong, and shiny. I’ve been using it for five months now, and my hair has even grown in thicker.

I use this rinse every time I wash my hair, so 2-4 times a week. I was thrilled with the results. Within a month’s time, I could run my fingers through my hair with ease–no more finding 10-20 strands in my hand, each with its own thick, yellow skin flake. The itching, the irritation, and any other sign of the seborrheic dermatitis had completely vanished, and I haven’t had a flare-up since.

I recommend this rinse to everyone I know, even to people who don’t have any scalp/hair issues. It’s a great addition to your hair care routine. It took two weeks before I thought I noticed a difference, and a month before I knew it was helping. Some people saw immediate results, and others had to wait as much as two months. Stick with it, you won’t be sorry! Give it a shot, and let me know how it works for you!

Redneck Casserole

26 Aug

Redneck.

If ever there was a word that made something instantly enticing, it is that one.

If someone uses the word “redneck” to describe something, it’s going to be very fun, very scary, or very illegal.

Or very tasty.

Which is why I call this Redneck Casserole.

It’s fast, it’s cheap, and it looks good on a plate (just like every other redneck).

And, if you eat this, you may be a redneck.

Just, please, use beef or chicken. I do not recommend possum, which is slightly gamey. Raccoon would also be a poor substitute, unless you can find some that wasn’t scraped up off the side of the road.

I haven’t tried squirrel, though, so if anybody out there does, please let me know in the comments section.

Redneck Casserole

Ingredients:

*1 1/2 to 2 cups pasta (measured uncooked)

*1 tbs butter

*3 ounces cream cheese

*1 can rotel

*1 can corn, drained

*1 lb meat (I used ground beef)

*1/4 to 1/2 cup milk, or half and half

*1 package chili seasoning

*1 tbs hot sauce

Directions:

You probably know how to cook pasta. Please proceed to do so. We can’t continue until you do.

Did you do it? Good. Now drain it.

Hey, you know what? Why don’t you go ahead and brown the ground beef while you’re at it. Then drain off the fat once it’s done. Thanks.

Now, take your pasta and stir in the butter, cream cheese, and hot sauce. Add the milk as you need it. Stir this together over medium-low heat until it gets creamy.

Stir in the rotel and the drained corn. Add the beef and season the casserole with the package of chili seasoning. You may not need all of it, it just depends on your taste.

Top it off with a handful of shredded cheese and serve it with some cornbread for a rib-sticking, redneck dish.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

20 Aug

I guess I’m old fashioned. Or maybe unhip. Or uncultured.

No, I take that one back. I’m not uncultured. I watch British television.

But where I come from, we top our pasta with two kinds of sauces: tomato or alfredo.

None of that fancy-pants “roast pepper” nonsense.

I was farting around the grocery store one day (pasta aisle, so imagine the wide assortment of pastas, coming in various shapes and colors and grain varieties). I stopped near the tomato sauce and saw something called “roasted red pepper sauce”.

It was such a pretty orange-ish color. Usually orange foods look unappetizing, but this looked comforting and warm. I was intrigued.

And so, because I am so easily swayed by the aesthetics of things, I decided to look into the “red pepper sauce” business. What was it? Where did it come from? Did I really care enough to look all that up?

The answer? A half-hearted “no”.

Then I decided to look at the foreign food labels, instead (because in addition to being highly superficial, I’m also easily distracted).

Anyway, I bought myself a jar of canned, oil-packed roasted red peppers. I figured I had everything else I might need to concoct my holiest of pepper condiments back home. After a bit of surfing on the Interweb, I found a few recipes. This is the one that I came up with.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Ingredients:

* 1 12-ounce can roasted red peppers

* 1 medium garlic clove

* 1 tbs white wine vinegar

* 1 tbs balsamic vinegar

* 1/2 tsp onion powder

* 1/4 tsp garlic powder

* 1/2 tsp parsley

* 1/2 tsp basil

* 1/2 tsp rosemary

* 1 beef bullion cube

* salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Pay close attention here, because you don’t wanna screw this up.

Firstly, you’re gonna want to get the red peppers out of the can. How you do this is of no consequence, and is really none of my business. I’m sorry I even brought it up, but it’s an integral part of this recipe.

Take all of the ingredients–every single one of them–and stick them into the food processor.

Gently, ever so gently, press the “high” button on your food processor. Don’t stop until all the ingredients have come together and appear to be coexisting.

Ingredients can be so immature. Don’t let them out of there until they get along.

Once everything is blended, stick the sauce in a sauce pan (how appropriate) and heat it up. Serve this red pepper sauce over seafood, vegetables, pizza, or, yes, even pasta.

One more thing before I move on to bigger and better things: use good red peppers. I used a canned variety the first time, and it was perfect. The second time around, I used jarred because they were cheaper (Oh, yeah, I’m cheap too). It didn’t turn out nearly as good because of them.

Beef Stroganoff and a Review of Aldi’s

22 Jun

I’d never been to an Aldi’s, but I always wanted to go. I’d heard that you could get a lot more bang for your buck there. The way your basket holds your quarter hostage until you put it back in the cart/paddock thing intrigued me. I also like being able to sack my own groceries because that makes putting them away much simpler.

Plus, it’s German. I like Germans. Heck, I am German–and not just because I can eat obscene amounts of sauerkraut and bratwurst, but because the people on my Dad’s side are Germans turned Texan. I love Texas.

Anyway, we passed an Aldi’s coming home one day and decided to see what all the fuss was about. I was excited, if you can believe that because in general I hate shopping. We stuck our quarter into the ‘Honor slot’ and ventured into the store amidst a throng of anti-social, self-absorbed co-customers.

The layout was very confined. I always felt like I was in someone’s way. And everyone was headed forward, so you were in a bind if you forgot something and had to go back (which I did frequently). It felt like an upscale convenience store. But, if I’m going to go to an upscale convenience store, I’ll go to Buccee’s. Just another reason to love Texas.

Some of the prices were good, but I didn’t see the big deal. We got some bargains on a couple cans of dog food. We bought a bag of salad, a couple cans of creamed corn, and a can of pork and beans.

The hamburger was cheap, so we picked up a couple of those (only later did I learn that Aldi’s had used 100% horse meat in their frozen meals at one time). I got some gum too, because I’m a chain-chewer and I’d run out a couple days before so I was getting withdrawals.

Checkout was the best part. The cashier was as polite as she had to be and no more so. She swiped our stuff and I went to the sacking counter to bag. I love bagging my own groceries. Isn’t it funny the things you enjoy when you grow up? I used to get excited about birthday parties and sheet forts. Nowadays for a thrill, I sack all my own stuff at the store.

That’s me, yep. Livin’ on the edge.

Okay, here’s how it all ranked: My dog ate the food, so he must’ve liked it. So far so good.

The gum? Powerful, sinus-irritating flavor for about half a minute, then it turned into flavorless rubber.

The salad was fine.

I used one package of hamburger meat that night. I think the dog food was more appetizing. Of course, I didn’t eat the dog food, but it smelled more fragrant than the beef did once I’d cooked it. Granted, I forgot to salt it. But I’ve forgotten to salt beef before, and it wasn’t flavorless.

This ground beef was flavorless. If all beef tasted like that, tofu really would be a great alternative to meat. It was mostly gristle, and I’m just really hoping that it wasn’t horse. Lesson learned: cheap doesn’t mean better.

So, I was disappointed. I’m of the opinion that life is too short to waste on bad meals. But, the demoralizing didn’t end there.

I opened up the pork and beans for my Dad to have with his dinner the other night. And there was no pork. None.

Also, there were no beans.

There was a lot of yellow hominy.

Well, I still had another pound of that crappy beef in the freezer. My ”frugal” nature prevents me from wasting food, no matter how poorly the taste. Fortunately, my prissy nature comforted me somewhat by enabling me to complain about it.

I made beef stroganoff. Had I used good beef (say, from Trader Joe’s, or HEB), it would’ve been wonderful. As it was, it hit the spot.

Here’s the recipe, and for the love of all things carnivorous, use decent meat. Buy a frozen package of meatballs if you must. If all you have on hand is Aldi’s ground hamburger meat and Aldi’s dog food, try the dog food. Let me know how it turns out.

Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients:

* 4 servings of noodles or rice

* 1 lb. ground beef

* 2 beef bullion cubes

* 2 cans cream of mushroom soup

* 6 ounces plain yogurt (or sour cream)

* 1 13.4 ounce can mushrooms, drained

* 2-4 tsp dried rosemary

* 1/2 tsp onion powder

* 1 tsp dried parsley

* 1/4 tsp oregano

* salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook four (4) servings of pasta or rice, or anything else you might eat this stroganoff on.

Meanwhile, take the ground beef, bullion cubes, and spices and throw it all in a pan to brown. When it’s done, drain off the fat. Stir in the mushroom soup, mushrooms, and the yogurt and let it simmer until the pasta/rice finishes. Serve it hot, serve it cold, but I wouldn’t serve it if it’s any more’n three days old.

See what I did there? I feel more clever than I care to admit about that.

Well, you look busy. I’ll let you go.

Healthy Chocolate Coconut Dream Pie

3 Jun

The title of this post should really be “A Combination of a Bunch of Different Pie Recipes, Altered to Fit Specific Dietary Needs, and Made to Taste Like it Wasn’t Altered to Fit Specific Dietary Needs.”

This pie is really good, especially considering the fact that it doesn’t have any flour or sugar. Plus, you can easily switch out some of the ingredients to follow whichever diet you prefer (paleo, vegan, dessert-only, etc.)

It’s made from healthy ingredients: coconut flour, honey, nuts, and yogurt.

I call this my Coconut Dream Pie, here’s why:

  1.  The first layer is a German chocolate cake made with coconut flour.
  2. The second layer is a caramel-like honey drizzle with shredded coconut.
  3. The third layer is Greek Gods Vanilla yogurt, frozen to trap pecans, chopped chocolate, and shredded coconut suspended in deliciousness.
  4. The fourth layer is whipped coconut cream.
  5. The fifth layer (if it can be called that. It’s actually more of a topping) is toasted shredded coconut.

Please take a moment to let all of that sink in.

You better like coconut. And chocolate for that matter. And, if you don’t, why the heck are you still reading this post, weirdo? Get outta here! Git!

Everyone else, feel free to give this here pie a try. I sincerely doubt you’ll regret it.

NOTE: I built this pie in layers, so I’m giving each layer its own “ingredient” and “directions” section. Please do yourself a favor and read all the way through it before you begin baking to prevent screw-ups (learn from my mistakes).

Healthy Coconut Dream Pie

Ingredients for the Bottom Cake Layer (1):

* 1/2 cup butter (or coconut oil)

*1/2 cup cocoa powder

*1/2 tsp baking powder

*6 eggs

*1/2 cup honey (or brown rice syrup, or agave)

*1 tsp vanilla

*1/2 cup coconut flour

*1/4 cup stevia

*1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Directions for Bottom Cake Layer (1):

Set your oven for 350, and grease a 9″ pie pan.

In a medium, nonstick saucepan, melt the butter. Once melted, stir in the cocoa powder and remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, honey, baking powder, and vanilla. Slowly add the butter/chocolate mixture to the ingredients in the mixing bowl.

Grab your hand mixer and use it to beat in the coconut flour to prevent any lumps. Once it’s well combined, stir in the nuts. Pour however much of the batter into your pie pan as you want, depending on how big of a cake layer you desire.

I had enough of this batter left over to make about six donuts. You could also stick it in a small ramekin or baking dish and make some brownies.

Bake this layer for 18-25 minutes. Baking times may vary, just keep an eye on it. When a poker comes out clean and the cake is no longer liquidy, it’s done.

Let this layer cool while you prepare the next layer.

Honey-Coconut Drizzle (2):

*1/2 cup coconut milk (use the canned kind, you’ll need it for another layer, anyway)

*1/4 cup honey

*1 tbs butter (or coconut oil)

*1 tsp vanilla

*Scant 1/4 cup shredded coconut.

Directions for Honey-Coconut Drizzle (2):

Combine the coconut milk and honey in a medium, nonstick saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer. Add the butter and vanilla, and keep letting it simmer. You want it to get thick and caramelly. Keep an eye on this mixture because you don’t want it to burn.

Once the drizzle has thickened, turn the heat off and add the coconut. You need to work relatively quickly with this layer because the cooler it gets, the more difficult it is to work with. So, pour the drizzle over the top of the cake layer and spread it around.

Ingredients for the Frozen Yogurt Layer (3):

*1 24-ounce container Greek Gods Vanilla yogurt (you could use any flavor or brand you want, this is just what I used. You could also use coconut or almond yogurt for paleo versions. Alternatively, if you’re following the dessert-only diet, you could simply use ice cream, and omit the gelatin)

*1 package granulated gelatin

*3 tbs cold water

*1/2 chocolate bar, chopped into bite size pieces (optional. I used Lindt milk chocolate, but you could use white chocolate or dark. It’s your pie)

*1 large handful shredded coconut (optional)

*1/3-1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Directions for the Frozen Yogurt Layer (3):

Make sure that your pie is completely cooled. You shouldn’t be able to feel any heat coming off of it whatsoever. Now, stir the gelatin into the cold water and set aside for 5 minutes.

Pour the yogurt into a mixing bowl and add the gelatin mixture. Stir in the chopped chocolate, coconut, and pecans. Pour the yogurt on top of the pie and place it in the freezer for at least 5 hours until the frozen layer sets up.

Ingredients for the Whipped Coconut Cream Layer (4):

*2 cans full-fat coconut milk

*Stevia to taste

*vanilla to taste

Directions for the Whipped Coconut Cream Layer (4):

Place your cans of coconut milk in the fridge overnight so that the fat will rise to the top (just like in society).

When you’re ready, open up the cans and scoop out all of the coconutty goodness. Take your hand mixer and whip it good. Add vanilla and stevia to taste. Please remember to lick the beaters.

Place the whipped layer onto the rest of the pie and refrigerate.

Ingredients for the Toasted Coconut Topping (5):

*1/2 cup shredded coconut

Directions for the Toasted Coconut Topping (5):

Set your oven to 350. Spread about 1/2 cup shredded coconut onto a cookie sheet and set it in the oven for 5-10 minutes. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t get too toasted, unless that’s how you like it.

Top your handsome Coconut Dream Pie with the toasted coconut, and you’re done!

At this point, you can put it back in the freezer until you’re ready to eat it. Just make sure that you let it sit out at room temperature for 45 minutes to an hour and a half to let it thaw enough to cut through. Or, if you’re going to eat it quickly, set it in the fridge instead.

The Macaroni and Cheese

27 May

Okay, alright, geez! I get it. Would you get off my back? I know I haven’t posted in a while. What? You feel like you’re entitled to know why? I’ll tell you why. It’s because I have a life.

You know how it is, though. If life catches you enjoying yourself–reading a book, or eating peanut butter with your fingers, or discovering the magic that is Doctor Who (where would I be without British television?)–life knocks on your door with a million things to do.

I’m sorry, people I got busy. But, I’ve still been cooking, and I’ve got more recipes to share with you.

I decided that my comeback post on this blog had to be big. I mean huge. Something that people would talk about the next day at the office. Something unprecedented, memorable, fantastic, brilliant (for a full list of synonymous adjectives, please visit www.thesaurus.com).

So I have two surprises for you.

First off, I will now be referred to simply as “The Artist”.

Second, (even if you just skimmed through all of that up there, you’re gonna want to read this next bit, ’cause this is the part that actually effects you) I’m going to give you my best recipe ever.

Prepare yourself for the creamiest, cheesiest, most delicious macaroni and cheese recipe in the universe. This is so delightful, I’m referring to it simply as “The Macaroni and Cheese.”

With the invention of this recipe, there is no other satisfactory macaroni and cheese. When I die, I want my headstone to tell everyone that I did this. No matter what I go on to do, this is my greatest accomplishment.

I wish I could communicate to you how tremendous this recipe is, but even my superior command of the English language cannot adequately portray the magic of this recipe.

I don’t mean to do injustice to other macaroni and cheese recipes, but they’ve got nothing on this. Once you give this a shot, you’ll be telling your old go-to macaroni and cheese recipe to hit the road. This is the best you’ll ever make.

I say all of this on the highest authority, as the official Texas Grand Czarina of Macaroni and Cheese, a title I have just now made up and appointed to myself, but one that I fulfill with the utmost respect and seriousness.

Give it a go, and tell me what you think!

The Macaroni and Cheese

Delicious

Ingredients:

*12 ounces dry macaroni (I used Ancient Grains quinoa pasta because I can’t tolerate wheat)

*1 16 ounce package velveeta (yes, you will use the whole thing. I don’t want to hear “that stuff isn’t good for you.” The last time I made this recipe, I ate it every last bit of it in one sitting, by myself. Use a velveeta substitute at your own risk).

*6 slices easy melt American cheese

*2-4 tbs grated parmesan

*3 tbs butter

*1 6 ounce container plain yogurt (I used Chobani. You could use sour cream, too)

*2-4 tbs whole milk, heavy whipping cream, or half and half

*3 tbs butter

*onion powder to taste (I used about 1/4 tsp)

*salt and pepper to taste

*1 tsp ground mustard

Directions:

Cook the pasta. I don’t need to tell you how to do that because you’re not an idiot (and, if you can’t figure out how to cook some pasta, you don’t need to be playing with the stove anyway). When it’s done, stir in the 3 tbs (or more, if you want) of butter.

Take the hunk of velveeta and cut it up into small cubes so it’ll melt easier. Unwrap the slices of cheese and quarter them so they melt easier, too.

In a nonstick, medium-sized saucepan stir together the yogurt, cubed velveeta, sliced cheese, parmesan, ground mustard, salt, pepper, and onion powder. Heat the mixture gradually and stir frequently until melted to prevent sticking and burning.

Once the mixture has melted, pour it over the macaroni and evenly distribute the cheesy, heavenly goodness. To make it all the more creamy, add some milk/whipping cream/half and half as needed.

Well, that’s it, folks. That’s all you have to do to make the perfect macaroni and cheese. This recipe is great any old way, but tastes best warm. After I’ve added the cheese sauce, I usually put it back on the burner for a few minutes, stirring it frequently until it heats up real nice. I might even top it with more shredded cheese.

Avocado and Cheese Smothered Chicken

5 Feb

You read the title. How could that not taste good? You’re right, it couldn’t not taste good.

Usually when I first get an idea for a recipe, it’ll take a few tries for me to get it right. But this recipe was special. It didn’t need anything added to it, it didn’t need to be fixed the next go around. It was just right.

The thing about this recipe that is special is the avocado spread. You can cook the chicken however you want to. The first time I made this, I cooked it in some bbq sauce and hot sauce. The second time, I sprinkled it with garlic salt, cumin, chili powder, and black pepper and cooked it in worcestershire and lemon juice. It doesn’t have to be anything special.

I’ve found that this guacamole is much better when it has been made a few hours before it’s going to be used so the flavors set. I make it about three hours before dinner and keep it in the fridge until I need it. But if you’re strapped for time, I think this would be just as delicious.

Avocado Cheese Smothered Chicken

Ingredients:

*3-4 medium/large chicken breasts (cook ‘em how you like ‘em. Try and make it Tex-Mex to compliment the guacamole)

*1 cup baby spinach

*shredded Monterey jack cheese

*shredded sharp cheddar cheese

*1/3 cup pickled jalapeno pieces

*2 avocados

(Adjust the amounts of these ingredients to suit your own taste)

*2 tsp hot sauce

*1 scant tsp chili powder

*1 tsp cumin

*1/2 tsp garlic salt

*2  1/2 tbs salsa (or rotel, or just dice some tomatoes)

*3 tbs pickled jalapenos, chopped

*2 tbs pickled jalapeno juice

*2 tbs lime juice

*1/8 tsp cayenne

Directions:

Take your avocados and slice ‘em up. Stick ‘em in a container and mash ‘em a little. I like a few pieces in mine, but to each his own. Now, stir in the hot sauce, chili powder, cumin, garlic salt, salsa, jalapeños, jalapeno juice, lime juice, and cayenne. Mix it really well, then seal it up and stick it in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Preheat your oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with some tin foil and spray it with non-stick spray.

In a skillet, cook your chicken the way you want it. When it’s done, transfer it to the baking sheet.

Now, spread the guacamole over the chicken, then put a few pickled jalapenos on it. Top that with some baby spinach and Monterey jack and sharp cheddar cheeses. Stick it in the oven and let it cook until the cheese has melted and the spinach has just started to curl up and dry out. It shouldn’t take more than 7 or 8 minutes.

Remove from the oven and enjoy.

Sweet Potato Honey Buttermilk Cornbread

15 Jan

I only just recently discovered the delightful experience that is the sweet potato. I confess, I have always disliked them because I associate them with the sweet potato casserole that we eat at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Its this sickeningly sweet concoction of mashed sweet potatoes, butter, and cream. Then this is topped with a crunchy, candy-like brown sugar pecan mixture.

I can’t eat it. It’s too sweet. So sweet that it makes me gag thinking about it.

So, you can see why my notion of sweet potatoes was very warped. But recently I’ve been fascinated with the paleo diet, and I was seeing a lot of tasty looking recipes that involved the dreaded sweet potato.

I put my prejudices aside, and went ahead and made some sweet potato oven fries. They were pretty darn good! I baked another sweet potato the other day for lunch and used some balsamic vinegar. In short, yum.

Then I found this recipe on Paula Deen’s website for sweet potato buttermilk cornbread. I usually don’t like to use recipes from these famous chefs. But I like Paula. I trust her. You wanna know why? Cause she’s not afraid to use butter.

I made a few changes to her recipe for the cornbread that I made to go with the (delicious) chili last night. I halved her recipe, then made a few substitutions. The result was this comforting, moist, cornbread with an incredible texture and rich, buttery taste!

Sweet Potato Honey Buttermilk Cornbread

Ingredients:

* 1/2 cup oat flour (or all purpose, or almond flour. Whatever you have.

* 1/2 cup corn meal (use  stone ground if you can)

* 2 tsp stevia

* 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

* 1/2 tsp salt

* 1 egg

* 2 tbs butter, softened, plus extra pats for topping

* 3/4 cup sweet potato, grated, packed

* 6 tbs buttermilk

* 2 tbs honey

Directions:

First of all, let me tell you that I used powdered buttermilk. I put 2 tablespoons of powdered buttermilk into 6 tablespoons of water, then added 2 tablespoons of honey.

If you don’t have powdered buttermilk, then just follow the measurements in the ingredients: 6 tablespoons buttermilk, and 2 tablespoons of honey.

Now then, preheat your oven to 425. Spray a 9-inch pie pan, or you could use a muffin tin if you want.

Take your sweet potato, peel it and grate it until you have 3/4 cup.

In a large bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients. In another bowl, whisk the egg and the buttermilk and honey. Set this aside.

Take the butter and cut it into the dry mixture until it is incorporated well. It won’t turn into a dough or anything, but you shouldn’t have any big clumps of butter anywhere.

Now, stir in the wet ingredients and the sweet potato until well combined. Pour the batter into the pan and top it with pats of butter. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Slice, and serve with a hot, stick-to-your-ribs kind of dinner.



Southwest-Style Cabbage Rolls

11 Jan

O.K. people, New Year’s Day is over. I’m back with another recipe.

Since it’s a little too late to post a recipe for a New Year’s black-eyed pea dish, I figured I’d just go ahead and post this. Cabbage rolls are something that I have been wanting to try to make for a while, and I finally got the chance to do it the other day.

I was studying up on cabbage rolls, and all in all, I was unimpressed with the recipes that I saw. They all looked kind of bland. So, I tried to jazz mine up a little bit, and I might even try to jazz them up a bit more the next time I make them.

Anyway, it was really easy. I had this preconceived image of me, impaling a head of cabbage with a knife, dunking it madly into a pot of boiling water, then screaming bloody murder when said water splattered me. I also envisioned soft whimpers as I delicately dressed my third degree cabbage burns.

Thankfully, none of that happened. I boiled the cabbage, mixed the meat, rolled ‘em up, covered ‘em with sauce, and let those suckers cook in my crock pot. Then I ate the heck out of ‘em. They never saw it coming.

Here’s the recipe to anyone who wants it. Hope you like ‘em!

Ingredients:

* 1 head of cabbage

For the Sauce:

* 2 8-oz cans tomato sauce

* 1 tsp basil

* 2 tsp parsley

* 1/2 tsp pepper

For the Meat Mixture:

* 1 lb ground beef

* 1 egg

* 3/4 cup oats, instant rice, or any other binding agent

* 4 oz green chiles, diced, drained

* 1 medium clove garlic, minced

* 1/4 cup onion, chopped

* 1 tsp chili powder

* 1 tsp cumin

* 1/2 tsp paprika

* 1/2 tsp curry powder

* 1/2 tsp ground mustard

* 1/4 tsp pepper

* 1 tsp liquid smoke

* 1 tsp worcestershire sauce

Directions: 

Boil your cabbage until the leaves are soft and sort of see-through. It’ll take about 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the tomato sauce into a pot with the spices and let it heat up a little.

Take your meat, and mix it with the egg, oatmeal or rice, chiles, garlic, onion, and spices.

Spray your crock pot with nonstick spray, then pour about half of the tomato sauce in there. Set it to “high.”

When your cabbage is done, drain it then remove some of the big outer leaves. Take the leaf, and cut out the tough white stem. Then, try to bring the sides together to make a nice blanket for the meat.

Take about 1/8 of the meat, and place it in the leaf, then roll it up and wrap the ends underneath. Repeat until all of the meat is gone, then pour the rest of the sauce over it. Put the lid on and let it all cook for about 2 or 3 hours, then turn it on low for another 4 or so. Or, you can just let it cook on low for 8 to 9 hours.

Hope you had a great New Year, everyone, and I hope you give these a try. They were tasty and easy–and the fact that they were easy made them tastier.