Sweet Potato Toast

I love toast.  Growing up breakfast was toast.  Or eggs and toast.  Cereal, oatmeal… but probably with toast.  My mom would also serve up homemade bread, which took toast to a whole new level.  So, sometimes our snacks were toast.  Not only did I eat it, but I have memories of my mom sitting at the table with her coffee and toast; lots of them (memories, that is).  Her sacred toast time.  Similar to tea time, but with toast and coffee.

We ate good bread.  If not homemade, we had wheat.  Generally the “better” wheat bread, that toasted up crunchy, chewy.  I like mine almost a little burnt.

Years went by and I still eat toast.  I buy bread, I baked bread.  In the last few years, however I found that when I make homemade wheat bread, I walk around feeling like a belly full of air for a while.  Air surrounded by a brick, actually.  So, I stopped making my homemade wheat bread and started crying.  Not really.  Maybe a little, inside.

I still buy bread, in fact, our favorite toasting bread comes from Costco and it’s called Alpine Bread, which you can find right here.  It is literally THE BEST TOASTING BREAD I’ve ever had.  My son’s girlfriend eats it when she comes over, and now asks me to get her a bag when I go so she can take it back to her dorm.  I’ve only found this bread at Costco, and it’s worth my membership.

Back to the whole point of this post.  I have had to cut back on bread.  There it is.  For many reasons, I just can’t consume it like I used to without paying a price.  I’ve made low-carb breads and muffins, but what I miss the most if I’m not allowing myself bread is toast.  It’s an easy, tasty breakfast.  It dips well in eggs.  So, I’m always looking for alternatives, and this one (sweet potato toast) was mentioned by one of my cousins.

SWEET POTATO TOAST
Wash (don’t peel) a medium-sized sweet potato.
Cut it in rounds (I did length-wise, afraid I’d lose the rounds in my toaster).
Pop it in the toaster for a few toastings (mine were thick and I think it took five).
When it starts to brown up a bit, it’s done.
Top with whatever you normally top toast with.
Mangia!

sweet potato toast

That’s it.  Verdict so far from me is that it’s an interesting alternative.  It definitely tastes like a sweet potato, and doesn’t have the texture of toast.  But I think in experimenting next time that I’ll slice it a bit thinner to see what that does to the texture.  It’s an intriguing idea.  I’d love to have an alternative option in mornings when I’m needing to cut back on bread.  My biggest concern is the waste.  One potato made two slices for me, but there was half a potato left to rot.  This makes me wonder what would happen if I made a “batch” of toast, and then put the leftovers in the fridge to re-toast and crisp up when I need them.

Phone Charger + Washi Tape

We are always at a lack for phone chargers in this house!  I ordered two from Ebay just before our trip to South Carolina, and then ordered a couple more earlier this week.  Frank needs one for his car, so one is already claimed, and I need one for myself (since the last one I had seems to have flown the coop).

Most of the chargers in the house are either black or white and fit the Samsung/Motorola phones.  It’s hard to tell who borrowed what charger.  As I unwrapped my precious new friend, I came up with an idea.  Washi tape.

I can’t admit to patience and precision on this little project.  I’m sure someone can improve on the final product with a little more time spent lining patterns and seams up.  I just wanted a quick way to mark my territory on this charger.

Cover your charger with Washi!

Jalapeño Popper Dip

I made this for New Year’s Eve – going to be on regular rotation now. SO good!

Jalapeño Popper Dip

Jalapeño Popper Dip

Ingredients

16 oz. cream cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
6 jalapeños, chopped and deseeded
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs (or crushed Ritz)

Directions

Let cream cheese soften at room temp. for about 10 minutes. Combine cream cheese, mayo, and jalapeños in a bowl and stir (or beat) until smooth. Add the grated cheeses, reserving 1/4 c. of the cheddar; mix well. Sprinkle bread crumbs over, then sprinkle on the remainder of the cheddar cheese. Put in an oven-safe dish and bake at 350 degrees until golden and bubbly.

Jalapeño Popper Dip

Making Facebook ‘Must Try’ Recipes

Everybody sees them – the Facebook posts, the food. Scrolling down through your feed, the eye catches on one recipe or another. The MUST SHARE or IT IS SOOOO GOOD recipe. Most of them have junk in them that I just don’t buy – “Take one pre-packaged this, add it to the other chemical-laden that, add some more chemicals…

I did decide to try two recipes yesterday, though, because our menu has gotten a little boring. I have no idea of the original source, but found the exact recipe below. It’s all over the ‘net. That’s the problem with the Facebook recipes. Unless you do share them, they’re lost in your feed. I copy/pasted the recipe, but don’t know where it came from. The recipe below is the exact one.

IMG_20130625_203807_269

ONE POT WONDER TOMATO BASIL PASTA
Serves 4 to 6 as an entree

12 ounces linguine pasta (I used 16 – why use 3/4 of a box?)
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes with liquid
1 large sweet onion, cut in julienne strips
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
2 large sprigs basil, chopped
4 1/2 cups vegetable broth (I used chicken broth – it’s all I had)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan cheese for garnish

Place pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil, in a large stock pot. Pour in vegetable broth. Sprinkle on top the pepper flakes and oregano. Drizzle top with oil. Cover pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and keep covered and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes or so. Cook until almost all liquid has evaporated – I left about an inch of liquid in the bottom of the pot – but you can reduce as desired . Season to taste with salt and pepper , stirring pasta several times to distribute the liquid in the bottom of the pot. Serve garnished with parmesan cheese.

This didn’t get the raves I was hoping for. It was eaten, but there was no call for me to throw it into regular rotation. We eat a lot of spaghetti around these parts, and they are fickle.

I do love sitting around the table with my family, though. It’s a little slice of heaven on earth. I completely relish every day we are able to. With one moved out, one home for the summer for college – our family dinners are few and far between, and not a daily event like the were years ago. Meal planning helps me get the family around the dinner table. I’m glad I took the time to do it this week.

For dessert: Honey Bun Cake

Honey Bun Cake

I didn’t get to try any of this, but it seemed to be a hit. My family seems to really like Honey Buns (they taste like cardboard and chemical sugar to me), so I thought it would be fun to try this. They said it didn’t quite taste like a Honey Bun, more like a coffee cake, but it was good. I made it using a make-your-own boxed cake recipe, since I didn’t have a boxed one on hand.

Honey Bun Cake
{mommyskitchen.net}

Ingredients:
1 – package white cake mix, (reserve ½ cup dry cake mix)
2 – sticks butter, softened
1 – cup plain Greek yogurt or plain yogurt
4 – eggs
½ – teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling: 
½ – cup reserved dry cake mix
½ – cup packed brown sugar
1/3 – cup chopped nuts, optional
2 – teaspoons cinnamon

Glaze:
3 – cups powdered sugar
1 – teaspoon vanilla extract
6 – 8 tablespoons milk

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees grease bottom only of 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Remove ½ cup dry cake mix and set aside. Add remaining cake mix to a large bowl: add butter, yogurt, eggs and vanilla; beat at medium speed. Spread half of the batter in the pan. Stir together reserved dry cake mix, brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts if using. Sprinkle over batter. Spread remaining cake batter on top. To make spreading easier drop batter by dollops over cinnamon mixture then spread using an offset spatula.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 – 40 minutes or until golden brown and cake springs back when touched. Remove from oven and let cake cool.

Prepare the glaze by stirring together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. If the glaze is too thick keep adding a bit of milk until it’s to the consistency you want. Poke the top of warm cake with a fork. Drizzle and spread the glaze completely over the cake.

Cook’s Note: I pour half of the glaze over the cake and let it seep into the cake and then wait about 15 – 20 minutes and add the remaining glaze mixture. (This was a good tip – worked well.) Cool for one hour before slicing.

 

Cauliflower Crust Pizza – Recipe

OK, so here’s the recipe I’ve been using. Clearly I’m slightly obsessed, but when you’re trying to do a lower-carb/higher fat/moderate protein (LCHF) diet, there are some things you miss, and I miss pizza.

But not so much anymore. Really. This works pretty darn well for me.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

For a low-carb (gluten free?) pizza, this one is the best I’ve found so far.
1/3 – 1/2 head cauliflower (I used about 1/2 for this one – it’s a forgiving recipe)
3.5 oz. grated parmesan, asiago, romano or other hard cheese
1.5 oz. shredded mozzarella
1 egg
(spices of your choosing – garlic, italian seasoning – skip salt, the cheese is salty)

Preheat oven to 400. Wash and dry the cauliflower (I use florets and stems) and chop it up in processor or chopper until resembles crumbs – then microwave for 3 minutes. Let it sit in microwave for about 5 minutes, then take it out and drain the cauliflower in cheesecloth or squeeze out excess water with paper towels. Add egg and cheese, and seasonings; mix in well.

Line a pizza pan or cookie sheet with parchment (I haven’t tried it without parchment, so I can’t tell you what would happen if you omit it)  then place the “dough” on and form into a circle. Pat well with your hands to make a nice shape. I make mine about 1/4 inch thick and then pat it again with paper towels once it is formed to get a little more moisture out. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden.

Remove the crust, turn oven to BROIL While the oven is heating, and add your sauce and a tiny bit more cheese (like an ounce – too much an it will be too cheesy), and any toppings you like. Place the pizza back in the oven to broil and watch it carefully. It only will take about 5 minutes for it to get toasty. If you don’t want to babysit it, you could skip the broiling part and just bake it for a bit more time.

Remove and enjoy.

It seems difficult, but it really isn’t once you do it a couple times. I haven’t gotten a crisp crust yet, but I’ve gotten a nice brown and a delicious flavor. Today I made sauce with 1 tomato and 1 can of tomato sauce (4oz) and some basil from my garden. Yum.

I’m going to add some flax or almond flour to my next pizza and see how that flies. This is pretty bare bones and works well.

IKEA Milk Frother

I like to order things online. It’s so much easier to comparison shop, read reviews, place the order, and find it on your doorstep soon after. I know, I know, the mom and pop are suffering from the ability to order online (specifically Amazon), but it saves me time and money.

Like I said in the last post, I’ve been blending up my coffee with cream and coconut oil. I was drinking it without blending it, but blending it makes it much tastier. But using my stick blender is pretty time-intensive on a short morning before work, so I ordered this – IKEA Produkt Milk Frother. It was less than $10 and eligible for Amazon Prime, and it had good reviews. And I didn’t have to leave the house to order it.

Low and behold, a few days later I came home from work to these two packages (one from Bath & Body Works, and one envelope).

The frother was in the envelope, nestled inside the box. No instructions, no batteries, just a very light-feeling frother.

Much smaller than the stick blender I’ve been using. Don’t get me wrong, I love my stick blender. I first used one when making soap, but then got one for making food. Lovely appliance. But taking it out and cleaning it was too much for me.

So, we had to put it to the test. Before blending (cream and coconut oil).

Here I am using the frother. It’s very quiet and feels like it is doing nothing. Sal took pictures for me while I frothed away. Much like the larger stick blender, it can make quite a mess, if you’re not careful. Using both of these blenders takes me back to my soapmaking days. Emulsifying the oils and the lye…

Here we are finished.

It’s not bad. Much more convenient than dragging out the stick blender, but also not as powerful. I definitely like to froth up even a simple cup of coffee and cream, or tea and cream. Blended, not stirred. It makes a difference.

All in all, I like my little frother. Was a worthwhile purchase. It certainly does the job, and I’m glad I ordered it. It’s been fun already making drinks for the kids.

Here was my Bath & Body Works delights. Mostly old scents that you can’t get in the stores, Sun Ripened Raspberry, Country Apple, but also a Coconut(something). They had free shipping plus a percent off, which made it a deal. And I didn’t have to leave the house or use my gas to get it. Yay me.

Sam’s Club Membership Deal (1 day only)

OK, have to post this. I have a Costco membership, but miss some of the things I get at Sam’s. No way would I spend the full amount for a membership, but this Living Social deal makes it pretty sweet (nearly free):

  • $45 ($79.84 value) for a one-year Membership package (new members only)
  • Includes a $20 Sam’s Club gift card and $19.84 in food-service vouchers (Food vouchers valid for an Artisan Fresh Rotisserie Chicken, a 16″ Artisan Fresh Take-and-Bake Pizza, and two boxes of 6-, 12-, or 24-count Artisan Fresh Cookies)

If three of your friends sign up, you get it for FREE! Living Social Sam’s Club Deal. (Full disclosure: if you sign up through the link I’m posting, that counts as 1 friend for me – I signed up from a friend’s Facebook link… glad she posted it.)

Soaking My Feet

Every time I use my foot bath (which I’ve had for about 10 years, I ask myself why I don’t do it more often.

Every.

Time.

It is a simple act that feels incredibly indulgent. I don’t pay much attention to my feet, unless it is to paint my toenails, which I don’t do very often either, it seems.

Beyond enjoying the warm water, bubbles and massage, the delicious aromas of essential oils wafting around the room – I enjoy the fact that I’m saving a good $40 on a pedicure. I know many people would look at it otherwise, willing to spend the money and have someone else do it, which I do – about once a year. Every other time, I’m satisfied with my home experience, knowing I’m saving money on something I can do nearly as good.

And I don’t have to shave my legs before I do it at home.

(Not really) sorry to say, but my razor gets way less action in the winter months. This used to concern me more when I was about 20. I’m staring 40 in the eyes and it bothers me very little to admit that. Less than it did when I was 30. So the fact that I get to sit on my couch, update my blog, wear my sweats over my non-shaven legs… works for me.

 

Butter Dipped Biscuits

I love how the internet is like an open cookbook, accessible, vivid, and somewhat interactive. I can do without some of the 92-picture steps (and here is the tablespoon coming out of the drawer, dipping into the baking powder, coming out, being washed…), but I do enjoy the look inside other kitchens, even down to the utensils. So there it is.

The other day I was surfing for recipes, and came across one that doesn’t exactly fit into my calorie budget without a lot of accomodations, but I couldn’t resist: Butter Dipped Biscuits.

butterbiscuits

Super simple, very basic ingredients that you probably have on hand, and they are deeee-licious.

I found most recipes for these to be about the same, but am linking to the above source since it is her delicious picture (I didn’t bother with a picture of mine).

Butter Dipped Biscuits (food.com)
Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 3/4 cups buttermilk (or “soured milk”)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450F degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In a microwave-safe bowl (or you can use the baking dish that you’ll be baking these in), melt butter in the microwave.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Pour in the buttermilk (add the last 1/2 cup slowly… you may not need it all). Stir until a loose dough forms. Batter will be a bit sticky.

Pour/press biscuit dough into baking dish (right on top of the melted butter). Take a sharp knife and cut the biscuit dough into 9 squares before baking.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, rotating dish once during baking.

(If you don’t have buttermilk, “sour” your regular whole milk with vinegar. Use about 1T. per cup. Add vinegar to milk, stir, and let sit for about 5 minutes.)

They were very tasty, and very easy. I had a half of one with my diner, and savored every bite.