Friday, January 16, 2015

Ain't-No-Pasta e Fagioli

Ain't-No-Pasta e Fagioli

Hi y'all! it's been a while, huh?  I haven't really had anything new to share for a while until now!
Last month my dad and I went out to eat at Olive Garden and then to a movie.  Well, I can never resist Olive Garden's Pasta e Fagioli.  I love love love that stuff.  Then last weekend my buddy Jackie and I were talking about how to low carb it, and she came up with a great idea to sub out the pasta.  Zucchini!! And that set my creative wheels in motion big time.  They have been dead for so long it seems.

So we looked up a recipe on line for a copy cat and we came up with this one. TopSecret Recipes.  Other than the beans and the pasta, it looked fairly low carb friendly so I decided to go for it!  Here is what I did:


1 to 2 pounds ground beef
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced carrot (optional)
1 cup diced celery
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 14.5 ounce cans of diced tomatoes
1 15 ounce can red kidney beans (optional)
1 cup small diced cauliflower
2 cups homemade V8 Juice(cut way down on the sweetener, see below)
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 to 2 cups cubed peeled zucchini (about 1/2 inch by 3/4 inch)

Brown the ground beef and drain most of the fat off.

Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and saute for 10 minutes

Add all the rest except the zucchini and cauliflower and let simmer 45 minutes to an hour.

Add the zucchini and cauliflower to the pot and let cook another 10 to 15 minutes.  Serve sprinkled with fresh Parmesan cheese.

Serve this with this Cheesy Garlic Bread from my buddy LeeAnn's blog at and you will think you are sitting in the dining room at the Olive Garden!  Her recipe is purely awesome!

Now, first you say, where are the pictures?????  I forgot!  I'm gonna be making this again this weekend so I'll try to grab some decent pictures to add.

And I thought I'd share this too. As Seen On TV Chopper is what I used to cube the zucchini.  I peeled them and then ran them through this thing to cut them into strips and then diced them about 3/4 inch long.  They really resembled the pasta in the original dish. But if you have crazy good knife skills you could get the same results.

Also, that V8 recipe that I linked to, is REALLY good!  But way too sweet. Next time I'll leave out the sweetener and see how it does.  I've never been a big V8 fan but I might be now!

The cauliflower was a decent substitute for the white beans, but I'm sorry, I had to add one can of kidney beans to this.  It's just not the same without it, but if beans aren't your thing, definitely leave them out and up the amount of beef you use.  That's why I put 1 to 2 pounds ground beef in the recipe.

So, what do you think?  Now that I have this recipe in my files, I think my draw to the Olive Garden will be curbed.  As my brutha of anutha mutha  George Stella would say, "Don't do without... REINVENT"  

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Finally Mastered cooking Greens!

Guess WHO????  I know, right?  I haven't posted in forever.  I need to get back to it.

I must share.  I have reclaimed my southern girl status.  I finally mastered the art of cooking greens!  After my colossal fail in 2012, I had kinda given up, but pulled up my big girl southern panties and tried again.  Got it right this time!  So what did I do you ask?  Well I'll just tell you!

I probably should have taken pictures, but I didn't think about it at the time.  Maybe next time and I'll add them.  This is how I made them last night and they turned out great.  But every time I cook anything, I end up changing one thing or another.

The first thing I did was took a smoked pork jowl and put it on a rack in my new toy, a Ninja 3 in 1 cooker.  (I love that thing!  I'll try to get some pics of it later)  I call him Papa Smurf, cause he's blue.  Here it is on Amazon  Papa Smurf

Anyway, I didn't season it or anything, just put it on the rack with the skin side down.  I set it on the low crock pot setting and cooked it for about 18 hours.  (Papa Smurf has a keep warm function that comes on automatically when the time runs out, ain't that cool?)

As the jowl cooks, it rendered off the most gorgeous "bacon oil" in the bottom of the pan.  As I cut/shredded/pulled apart the jowl, more of that gorgeous oil was on my cutting board, so you know I didn't waste it!  So to that oily goodness I added a medium white onion that I had diced up,along with a good sized pinch of kosher salt, and set Papa Smurf on High Stove Top cooking and cooked the onions till they were a little translucent.  

So once the onions are nice and perty,  I added my two huge bags of greens, one of Kale, and one of Mustard Greens.  I had to add one bag at a time until it cooked down and made room in the pot.  It took about 10 minutes to make room for the 2nd bag.  I added about 3 cups of chicken base (I use the powdered stuff in a jar and add it to water) and then I let it cook on low for about an hour, and I kept checking it and had to add some more liquid to it at some point.  OH I almost forgot, I added 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes too, just to "kick it up a notch" (and Paula Deen told me to)  And here is the piece-da-resistance!  At the end, right before I turned it off, I added about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar. 

It came out really good!  A dish I am proud of.  I liked the combination of the greens I used, and will play with it more with different combinations.

So, do you think I could be let back into the Southern Girls Club now???  But the only thing I should have done that I didn't do, is make cornbread to go with it.

Till next time kids!!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

SURPRISE!!!!!  I know, I know, I haven't blogged in a really long time.  But I haven't had anything to really share till now.  Been making sugar free jams with fresh fruit.  I started playing with this several weeks ago when I had some fresh cherries that needed to either be eaten or used, so I decided to play with some jam.  I was just tinkering in the kitchen and cooking by sight, not measurements and by golly it came out really good!  So now when I find a good price on either fresh or frozen fruit I try new flavors.  

Yesterday I made some SF/GF Blueberry muffins and had blueberries left over, and a few in the freezer, so I made jam!  It was fantastic for breakfast this morning with my muffin.... so good that my boss wanted me to write down the recipe, so thought I'd share.

Let me know what you think! hugzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Sugar Free Jam ala Dingbat Dinah

About 4 cups of fruit  (I fill up my chef’s pot about ½ to ¾ full)
About 1 cup Water (or supplement SF syrup in a complimentary flavor)
1 pkg Knox Gelatin (or SF Jello in a complimentary flavor about ½ a small package)
About 2 tblsp lemon juice (I keep the frozen Minute Maid kind in the fridge)

Put the liquids with the fruit and put it on the stove on low to medium low for at least an hour. You want it to barely simmer and cook down the fruit and reduce by about 1/3.
Taste some of it and adjust the sweetener with splenda or whey low to your liking.
While it’s hot, add the gelatin and lemon juice.  Put it in mason jars and let it cool to room temp then put in the fridge.

 I’ve done Fresh Cherries with Wild Cherry jello and it’s stupendous.
I’ve done Peach without any flavoring and it was so-so.
I’ve done blueberry with Salted Caramel Torina’s syrup and it’s super good too.

You can use fresh or frozen fruit.  If the fruit doesn't break down to a nice consistency, you can use a potato masher, stick blender or pastry blender to break it up a little. Didn’t have to do it with blueberry, but did with fresh cherries and peaches.

Keep refrigerated unless you want to process it and can it.  I haven't tried putting it up in the freezer, but that little experiment is next!  I'll try to add some pictures later.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Pot Pie Soup!!!!

Pot Pie Soup!!!
5 boneless skinless thighs, about 2 cups cooked and diced
   Or you could use chicken breast, turkey, etc.
1 16 ounce pkg of cauliflower chopped up (10 carbs for the whole bag)
1 16 ounce pkg of Italian Veggie Mix (20 carbs for the whole bag)
1.2 cup or so of diced onion (I used frozen)
1 can of green beans drained (not sure of carb count, but can’t be much)
5 cups water
1 tblsp chicken Base (could use boullion or chicken broth)
½ tsp rubbed Thyme (I like using flakes more, usually about 1 tablespoon)
Salt Pepper and a dash or two of garlic Powder
Boil everything together until the veggies are tender, about 20 minutes or so.
1 block of cream cheese at room temp
¾ cup of Heavy Whipping Cream
In a microwaveable bowl, add the cream cheese and cream. Microwave for about 1 ½ minutes till nice and warm but not boiling.  Use a stick blender, if you have one, to cream it together. If you don’t have a stick blender, you can add it as is, but the cream cheese may clump up a bit. But if you keep cooking it, it will smooth out the lumps.
Add the cream cheese mixture to the soup and stir!
***You might think there isn’t enough liquid to make a “soup” when you are cooking the veggies.  Admittedly I love THICK soups, so you can add more liquid if you want to.  But once you add the cream stuff, it thins it out a bit.  Thyme is what makes this so flavorful.  You can also use any combination of veggies that you have on hand.  This is just the combo I had in the freezer today.  If you are making it for non low carbers, you can add corn, peas, lima beans, etc.
I’m proud of how this turned out! I’m gonna add it to my blog, and next time I make it, I’ll take pictures!

I didn't do an exact carb count for this, but it makes a huge pot. I can't imagine it being over 6 or 7 a cup.  Next time I make it, I'll do the math.  And next time I'll add some mushrooms too.  I didn't have any today.

The corn bread recipe I used was ok, not great.  It's missing something.  The texture was really good, but there is something flavor wise that's missing.  I'll eat it tho! basically it's almond flour, eggs, butter, sour cream, salt and baking powder.  I'm going to work with the recipe a bit and see if I can get some more flavor in it.

I've been working on this Pot Pie Soup recipe for a couple of months now.  I've made it twice "not low carb" and it was really good.  I was afraid that taking out the high carb veggies and replacing it with low carb veggies would really take it down a notch, but it didn't!!  This is definitely going to be a go to soup for me.  Hope you try it and enjoy it, and if you do, let me know!

oh, and in the picture, the soup looks kind of "yellow" but it must just be the lighting, or lack thereof.  It is a nice creamy color....


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Punkin Donuts

l forgot to take a picture of the donuts, but I tried the Punkin Donuts and they were pretty darned good!  Here is what I did for a recipe, which was 5 or 6 different recipes that I kinda gleaned ideas from:

Punkin Donuts
  • Donuts:
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup of punkin (not punkin pie mix, real punkin)
  • 1 cup Whey Low
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt\
  • 3 tablespoons punkin pie spice
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup Cream

  • Glaze:
  • 1 cup powdered Whey Low (could use splenda  I think)
  • 1 to 3 tbsp almond milk
  • ¼ tsp Vanilla

Spray donut tin with “Pam”.
In a large bowl whisk  the dry ingredients together till combined well. Stir in eggs, punkin, and vanilla Add almond milk and stir until it’s a cake like batter.
Fill donut tin 2/3.  Bake for 18 to 20 minutes.  I turned them out on a small cookie sheet and immediately dipped them in the glaze using a fork.
For the glaze, whisk together everything till smooth.
Now, that being said, I think that next time I will add some cinnamon (i ran out) and maybe a touch of ginger.  And I'm still working on the glaze.  It is more like a syrup and doesn't set up like a usual glazed donut.  Next time I'm thinking of using melted coconut oil instead of the almond milk.
These donuts were a big hit with everyone who tried them.  They were slightly denser than the Choco Glazed Donuts, and I think that's cause I added the coconut flour.
Just thought I'd share!!!
Peace Ya'll!!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

chocolate glazed donuts

I try to give credit to the base recipes I used as a blueprint, but there was about 6 different ones I perused to get this. This is my first attempt and they were very good, but not very dense like the one's I remember from the donut shop in my fatter days. Not sure what to use to make them denser, so suggestions welcomed! Butter maybe?  Someone suggested a bit of CoConut flour, so I may try that next time, maybe 1/4 cup with an extra egg. (coconut flour soaks up a lot of liquid)

Chocolate Glazed Donuts

2 cups almond flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 cup Whey Low (or sweetener of choice)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

½ tsp vanilla

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup almond milk


1 cup powdered Whey Low (could use splenda  I think)

1 to 3 tbsp almond milk

¼ tsp Vanilla

Preheat to 350 degrees

Spray donut tin with “Pam”.

In a large bowl whisk  the dry ingredients together till combined well. Stir in eggs, and vanilla. Add almond milk and stir until it’s a cake like batter.Fill donut tin 2/3 full.  Bake for 18 to 20 minutes.  I turned them out on a small cookie sheet and immediately dipped them in the glaze using a fork. I was hoping the glaze would soak in a bit. Next time I may let them cool a bit and maybe it won't soak in as much.

For the glaze, whisk together everything till smooth.

For the sized donut pan I have it made 2 batches of 6 donuts each, with one side car in a cup, about the size of a muffin. I left this last one in the oven when I shut it off cause it was still a little liquidy. (then I forgot it was in there and stuck something else in the oven and burnt it! Duh!)

These were very very good. and even better today.  Still gonna work on the glaze and see if I can get it more like a glaze that stays on the outside. Does that make sense????

here's a picture of the leftovers and the pan I used.  It's a Wilton and very non stick!  Just rinse it and don't put in the dishwasher.  I looked everywhere for this in stores and couldn't find it.  Bought it off of Amazon, for more money than I wanted to pay, but I have a feeling I'm gonna be using this a lot::::

Now I think I may play with a Punkin Donut for the fall.

Hope you try it!  

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fresh Yogurt anyone?

Happy Sunday Ya'll.  Been on a cooking kick today and haven't gotten around to posting the method I use for making crock pot yogurt.  Sitting here watching the Titans play so I thought I'd start on it....

Ingredients are very simple. A half gallon of whole milk and NOT ultra pasturized, although I've never seen it in the stores.  I add about a cup of cream too.  I think it adds some bulk to it.

And don't be hatin' on my crock pot.  I love that thing, but it is impossible to clean the painted stuff on the outside.  I got after it one time with Barkeepers Friend, and it rubbed the finish off, so I just said to heck with it.  It's ugly and looks filthy, but it works real well!!

Ok, now mix this up in the crock pot. Plug it in on high.  I use my fancy thermometer my son bought me for christmas that I love, and use the probe to guage the temp.  If you have one, stick it in there, trying not to lay it on the sides or on the bottom, but suspended in the milk.  set the temp to 185 and walk away.  In about 2 hours it should be slightly bubbly around the edges.

  Kinda like this::::

Now turn the crock pot off and walk away AGAIN! LOL  You want it to cool to 115 degrees, so just let it set.  I usually take the crock out and set it aside and it seems to cool within about an hour. Just check on it occasionally.  Kinda like this.......

When it gets close to being cooled, preheat your oven on the lowest temp.  My oven's lowest temp is 175, so I preheat it, and then just turn it off.

 Once it cools to 115, or cool enough to be able to stick your finger in it for 10 seconds, then you add a cup of GREEK FULL FAT YOGURT  which is hard as heck to find, OR if this is your 2nd batch, reserve a cup from a previous batch of yogurt.  They say you can use a reserved cup up to 3 times before the cultures get kinda weak.  You can also get yogurt cultures on line, and I've used it and couldn't tell a difference except for convenience   Whisk in the starter or cup of yogurt.

So how much actual cooking time have we spent so far, maybe 5 minutes?????

NEXT  Take a cookie sheet bigger than the bottom of the crock, and two big old thick cotton bath towels, the thicker the better.

I criss cross the towels and then set the covered crock in the middle of it and wrap that baby up tight, tucking in the towel onto the cookie sheet.  Put the whole thing into the oven that you have turned OFF, but it's warm, right????  and if you have an oven light, leave it on.  It seems to put off a tiny bit of heat.

Stick that puppy in the oven
on a low rack such as:::

Now, go to bed, you have worked incredibly hard on this and deserve to rest. LOL  Actually, I usually do this in the evening and leave it in the oven till I get home the next afternoon.  And believe it or not, I will unwrap it and it is still very warm!!! The longer you leave it in the oven, the tarter it will get. I like it tart, but this last batch hurt my glands it was so tart! LOL  Oh well, it's still good.

Now the next step I didn't get pictures of cause I forgot, but if you want thick, greek like yogurt you need to tend to it a bit more.  I use a big bowl, with my 1000 year old tupperware strainer with a coffee filter in the bottom of it.  Strainer looks like this:

I pour the yogurt into  it and let it set on the counter for a while, and when I walk by, I'll pour off the whey that leaches out.  Then I'll cover it with a plate and stick it in the fridge, still straining it, overnight.

The next morning you are gonna have a glorious batch of yogurt and you will never buy it in the store again.  My favorite way to have it is with frozen blueberries, brown sugar and cinnamon.  And when they are in season, I like the fresh cherries with DaVinci's Wild Cherry syrup.  Peaches are good in it too, but not often for me, a bit to carby.

And don't forget to reserve a cup for the next batch!  I've researched and found that the expiration date of the ingredients you use is a rough guess as to the expiration date of the yogurt, if that makes any sense.  But frankly, I've had it last over 2 weeks.

Let me know what you think peeps.... hugzzzzzzzzzzzz