Monday, April 14, 2014

15-Minute Low-Carb Recipes: Border Town Chicken Salad

Green seems to be the theme of this post.

The only plate I had clean to use for my ingredients was my green one, and then everything on the plate was green, and then the chicken salad was green from the avocado dressing, and I wondered if it was a green overload. . .and then I realized I was giving it way too much thought.

So green it is.

I really like this week's cookbook.  Most of you know I'm a Type 1 diabetic.  Really, I should be doing the low-carb thing more often then I do.  I just really love bread, you know?  But the recipes I made out of this cookbook make me think I could maybe stand to do low-carb more often.

This chicken salad, when I had it for dinner the first night, I just put it on a bed of lettuce.  (Incidentally, it's how I learned Zelda also likes romaine lettuce.)

The next day, I put it on wheat bread to make a sandwich (there's that daggone bread again!)  It also made a couple more sandwiches.  Or you could just eat it straight out of the bowl.  It's versatile that way.

Border Town Chicken Salad
Make 3-4 servings
From 15-Minute Low-Carb Recipes


Guacamole Dressing

1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. hot sauce, plus more for flavor
1/4 tsp. salt, plus more for flavor

Chicken Salad

1 batch Guacamole Dressing
2 cans chicken (or 2 cups diced, cooked chicken)
3 stalks celery, diced
3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
6 scallions, diced

To make the Guacamole Dressing:

Cut the avocado in half, remove the seed, and place in a food processor.  

(NOTE:  I didn't have access to a food processor when I made this, so I put it in a bowl and used a stick blender.)  

Add the yogurt, olive oil, lime juice, garlic, hot sauce, and salt.  Blend until smooth.  Add more hot sauce and salt to taste.

To make the salad:

Mix everything together.  

(Easy, right?)  

Mix with guacamole dressing.

Taste to see if you need more salt and/or hot sauce, and add those to taste.  

Serve on lettuce or as a sandwich.  Or just grab a spoon.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Jell-O Shot Cupcakes

I had a really sad thing happen to me last weekend.

I was all excited to make these cupcakes (originally from That's So Michelle).  I don't have my kitchen stuff out of storage yet (I know!), so I had to go buy a cupcake carrier (they were going to a potluck, and I had nothing to carry them in) as well as all the ingredients necessary and a cupcake baking pan.

They turned out phenomenal(ly?).  My Jell-O shot cubes were a little on the short, wide side, but they were so pretty, and when I tasted one, they were so good.  This is a really good recipe!

So I brought them to the potluck, and. . .no one ate any.  No one tried them.  And then they melted, and they looked like this:

I don't know if you've ever made anything for a potluck that no one tried, but it's really disheartening, especially if you're like me and get 85% of your self-worth from people liking things you've made.  (I'm kidding.  Sort of.)  Especially when you had to mix the homemade frosting by hand (my KitchenAid is in storage), and buy all this stuff when you're on a pretty tight budget for the time being.

So the moral of this story is, you should definitely make these cupcakes.  Just make sure they're going to be eaten (and eaten before they melt), and that they're in a cool area.  Also, wear sunscreen if you're going to be in direct sunlight from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.  I don't know why it didn't occur to me to do that, but it didn't, and now I'm crispy fried.

Legitimately, you don't even have to make these with the vodka.  You can't really taste it, and then if you bring them to a potluck and no one eats them, you don't waste half a bottle of vodka like I did.

Cherry Jell-O Shot Cupcakes
Makes 2 dozen (It's better to give yourself two days to make these)
Original recipe from That's So Michelle


1 box white cake mix
Eggs, as called for on box
Vegetable oil, as called for on box
Water, as called for on box

Jell-O For Cake
1 box Jell-O (I used cherry, but you can use whatever you want)
1 cup cake flavored vodka
1 cup water

Frosting and Jell-O Cube
2 packages cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 stick butter
Food coloring (optional -- I didn't color the frosting, but you can if you want)
1 cup cake flavored vodka
1 cup water
2 envelopes gelatin (like Knox)

Bake your cupcakes according to the directions on the box.  Once they've cooled, poke them a couple times through the top of the cupcake with a fork.  Set aside.

Add one cup water to a saucepan and add one box of Jell-O to the water.  Heat over medium-high heat until the liquid comes to a simmer.  Turn off the heat, and add one cup cold vodka.  Stir well.

Let the Jell-O mixture come to room temperature and spoon this over the cupcakes.  Make sure you don't let the cupcakes and Jell-O set in the same pan you use to pour the Jell-O, because they could get stuck to the bottom.

Refrigerate the cupcakes for an hour or so to let the Jell-O harden.

In another pan, add one cup water and the other box of Jell-O, and stir until combined.  Sprinkle your gelatin on top, and let it sit for one minute.  Turn the heat to medium high and let the mixture simmer.  Turn off heat and add one cup cold vodka.  Pour into a pan and refrigerate for several hours until firm.

To make the frosting, mix cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar until smooth.  Mix in food coloring if you want.  Top your cupcakes, making sure to pile the frosting high enough to rest a cube of Jell-O in.

Cut your refrigerated Jell-O into squares.  Top your cupcakes with Jell-O squares close to serving time.  Keep refrigerated.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Cooking From the Farmers' Market: Warm Plums with Honey and Greek Yogurt

I hope that by now, you guys have forgiven me for Wednesday's Travesty Sandwich.  I went a little off the rails with that one.

However, if you haven't forgiven me yet, you will after you try this recipe.  It's another one from the gorgeous Cooking From the Farmer's Market, and while it's relatively healthy in its original state using Greek yogurt, it's also really good on vanilla ice cream.  Depends on how you're feeling that day, I guess.

I don't have a lot to say about this one except that it's really, really good, and it's pretty, and when I saw the photo in the cookbook, I immediately realized it wouldn't do in anything else except my giant wine glass.  
(If you wondered, and I know you did, I got that glass free at the Valentine's Day soiree my apartment complex had.  Free wine and snacks and a chocolate fountain.  I love California.)

With this one, I halved the number of plums and the amount of yogurt used from the original recipe, but kept everything else the same.  Just keep that in mind if you want to make more than two servings of this.

Warm Plums with Honey & Greek Yogurt
Makes 2 servings
From Cooking From the Farmers' Market


2 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. light brown sugar (which is not in my photo for some reason)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 firm, ripe plums, halved., pitted, and cut into 1-inch wedges
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

In a baking dish, stir together the vanilla, honey, and sugar.  Add the plums and toss.  Dot the mixture with the butter pieces, and roast until just warm, about 6 minutes.

Spoon a small amount of the mixture and a spoonful or so of the juices into each serving glass, then add 1/2 cup of yogurt to each glass.  Top with remaining plums.

Sprinkle with pistachios and serve immediately.

If you have any left over, it's also really good heated up and poured over ice cream.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Cooking From the Farmer's Market: Apple & Artisan Cheddar Panini

Every now and again, I'll see a recipe in a cookbook and think, "That sounds fantastic!" and I'll put it on my food agenda, and then the day will come when it's time to make it, and I think, "That sounds fantastic! . . .but I don't really have what's needed to make this!"

And then I'll make it anyway.

That's kind of what happened with this sandwich.  I kept the idea of the sandwich, but in execution, it's sort of like. . .it would be like being in the mood for a big scoop of ice cream with jimmies and instead, having a bowl of vanilla Greek yogurt.  The yogurt's good.  You like the yogurt. . .but it's not what it was supposed to be, and even though the yogurt was good, you can't help but feel a little disappointed.

It's not the sandwich's fault.  It's mine for picking it when I knew I wasn't up to the execution.  It's a panini, and not only do I not have a panini press, I also don't have anything resembling a panini press because all my cooking stuff is still in storage.

Sorry, sandwich.  I'm sorry you never met your full potential, and that I was too cheap to go out and buy sourdough bread and artisan cheddar, which was what you wanted, and instead, I used wheat bread and pre-sliced, pre-packaged cheese.  At least I used a delicious apple!  Right?

What makes this situation all the more sad is that this is a really, really gorgeous cookbook, and I feel like I've let its authors down.

Sarah's Sad Apple and Cheese Sandwich
Makes one sad sandwich
Loosely Inspired By: Cooking From the Farmers' Market


2 sad pieces of wheat bread (sourdough if you want to do it right)
Several sad pieces of cheese (thinly sliced artisan cheddar if you're not besmirching the good name of sandwiches everywhere)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 red apple, cut into slices

Brush one side of each sad piece of bread with olive oil.  Layer your apple and sad cheese on the unoiled side of the bread slice.  Put the other bread slice on top, and press the pieces together to bury your sandwich's sadness way down deep inside.

Place sandwich in a pan over medium heat and cook, flipping sandwich over a few times, until the bread is lightly browned, and the cheese has melted.

In this case, the sad sandwich adventure was topped off by the fact that the bread was way toasted before the cheese was fully melted.  I ate it anyway.  I was hungry.

My deepest apologies to the authors of this cookbook, the sandwich itself, and sandwiches everywhere.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Weekend Real Talk: Diabetes

Hey, guys.

I know this is a cooking and food blog, and I know this post has little to do with food, but could you bare with me for a post, and read about something that is very close to me?  You might learn something!

Please?  There's a picture of my cat involved!

Good.  Thanks for sticking around.  (Even if it is just for the cat.)

As you may or may not know, I have Type 1 diabetes.  A lot of people don't really know what that is, not really.  Most people have heard of diabetes, but I'm going to go ahead and guess that if you don't know someone with Type 1, or if you don't have it yourself, when you think of the word "diabetes," you're probably thinking of Type 2 diabetes.

I'm not here to explain the difference between the two (although if you have questions, I really do love answering those questions from people who know that they don't know, and they want to educate themselves.  I also wrote a post for a website back in 2012 about living with diabetes, and the ignorant things people sometimes say to me about it, and if you're interested, it's here.)

That's not the point of this post, though.

There's a blog I follow, and the writer did a post about sweets on Thursday.  The post started off like this, copy-pasted exactly:

"I have a sweet tooth, a really big sweet tooth.  If I went to the doctor and he told me I was diabetic, I would scream.  And my expression would be like this.
Can I live without sweets, yes I can.  Do I want to live without sweets, absolutely not?"
 I don't know what this person's expression would be like, because they didn't include a picture or anything, but I assume the intent was that the expression would be something like this:

Which, incidentally, was my face after reading that intro.

The post, if you wondered, was a list of the blogger's favorite sweets.  Cool.

But I have had it, absolutely had it with people using diabetes as either a punchline or as a Worst Case Scenario.

If you've followed this blog for any period of time, you know I don't shy away from sweets or carbs.  I love them.  I, too, have a monumental sweet tooth.

I've been a Type 1 diabetic for almost 25 years, and for those 25 years, I've been eating. . .pretty much what I feel like eating.

There's a caveat here.  Would my blood sugar levels be under tighter control if I completely gave up carbs and sweets, and all those lovely things?  Absolutely, it would.  My point is, though, there's nothing saying I can't have these things.  There's no Diabetes Rule saying, "Once you're diagnosed as diabetic, you can no longer eat ANY SWEETS EVER AGAIN."  That's simply not true.

It's one of those Diabetes Myths that are floating around.  It's along the same lines as "If you eat that, you'll get diabetes."  Come on, people.

Diabetes, Type 1 or Type 2 or gestational or LADA or whatever, is a serious disease.  Every type of diabetes is different, but why would any of them give you a license to mock it or say "At least I don't have that!"?

If you want to know, my experience with Type 1 sometimes borders on the terrifying.  There are days when my blood sugar has been so out of wack and crazy that literally the last thing that crosses my mind when I go to sleep is, "I hope I wake up in the morning."  That's not funny.  No part of that is funny.

I actually did leave a comment for this blogger, letting them know that their use of diabetes as a Worst Case Scenario was not only vaguely offensive, but also wildly incorrect.

The blog entry makes light of something serious.  I can't really even begin to convey to you guys how it makes me feel when I see misinformation being blatantly spread like that.  Diabetes doesn't mean you can't eat sugar, just like the cause of Type 2 diabetes isn't always bad eating habits and lack of exercise.  (Sometimes it is, but not always.)

One other nugget of information I have is that, if you wonder, Type 1 diabetes is an Autoimmune disorder, which, in a nutshell, means that when I was 4 years old, my body saw the insulin-making cells in my pancreas and, for whatever reason, launched an attack on them, killing them off and making them not useful in the least.  That's Type 1.

I didn't make this post to shame anyone or to whine or to do anything like that.  I just want people to understand that diabetes. of any type, is not a Worst Case Scenario, and it should never, ever be used as a punchline.  Diabetes seems to be the only other disease besides AIDS that, for some reason, people think it's OK to joke about.  It's not.  It's also not the Worst Thing That Can Happen To You.

Please be aware of people around you, and if you don't know how something works, or what it's like, or anything like that, don't let your ignorance show.  Ask questions.  Do some research.  Maybe you'll come across someone some day that you can either share that information with, or that you can use your knowledge to have an intelligent conversation with.

Thanks for listening, everyone.  And I'll be back with more deliciousness on Monday.  Maybe it'll even be something with carbs.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Soup Mix Gourmet: Broccoli Cheese Soup

Every now and again, I make a recipe that I just don't know how I feel about it.  This recipe is one of those.

It wasn't bad.  It was actually pretty tasty.  But I'm not crazy about the consistency.  The amount of milk the recipe calls for (1/2 cup) is nowhere near enough.  If I would have stuck with the 1/2 cup, it would have been like eating paste.  Since I don't (generally) eat paste, that wouldn't have done at all.

I kept adding milk to it until it reached a less glue-like consistency.  I also needed to add more Tabasco than the recipe called for, and. . .I just don't know.

I would recommend trying this, and tweaking it in your own way.  Definitely have extra milk on hand, unless you enjoy eating paste.  (Which. . .no judgment here.  You do you.)

Broccoli Cheese Soup
Serves 4-6
From The Soup Mix Gourmet


2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups cooked broccoli
1 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp. pepper, plus more to taste
2 cans Campbell's Cream of Celery Soup
10 shakes Tabasco sauce (even this much won't make it spicy.  Trust.)
At least 1 1/2 cups milk, plus more for consistency
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened. 

Add the broccoli and season with the measured salt and pepper.  Cook for about 3 minutes.

Add the soup, Tabasco, and milk, and bring soup to a boil.  Turn the heat down to low and add both cheeses.  Stir until melted.  Add milk as needed, and salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Soup Mix Gourmet: Old-Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese

I wasn't convinced that "old-fashioned" included a can of cheddar cheese soup, but the recipe said "The introduction of Campbell's Cheddar Cheese Soup helped to put macaroni and cheese on the culinary map," and that sounds like it could be true, so now I don't know what to believe.

It never would have occurred to me to put onions in macaroni and cheese, but man. . .it was weirdly good!

This recipe is super-simple, and great with a green salad.  You don't even have to add the onions if you don't want to!  The only thing about it was, there were no spices in the recipe, so I would recommend having salt, pepper, and maybe cayenne pepper on standby.

Old-Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 4-6
From The Soup Mix Gourmet


1 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup chopped onion (I love cooked onions, so I used the whole thing. Whatever you want!)
1 can Campbell's Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup
1/2 cup milk
3 cups cooked macaroni
Salt, pepper, cayenne pepper to taste (Optional)

Melt the butter in a large pan over medium heat.

Cook the onion until it is softened.

Stir in the soup, then add the milk, gradually and while stirring.  Mix in the cooked macaroni and cook until heated through.

Add whatever seasonings you want.  And. . .done!