Friday, July 29, 2016

Corelli's Mandolin: A Book Review with a Book Inspired Recipe #BookClubCookbookCC

I finished our very last selection of the Book Club Cookbook Cooking Crew this morning.  It's hard tto believe that this year long journey, started by my friend Cam of Cooking Adventures with Camilla and sponsored the the authors of the Book Club Cookbook, Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, has come to an end.

Cam gathered eleven fellow bloggers and we were each provided with a copy of the cookbook to raffle off when it was our month to host.  Some of us were also given a copy for our own use but I had purchased mine prior to that incentive.  It was incentive enough for me to just join in on one of Cam's events.  They are always so much fun.  You can find out more about how this started and get links to a years worth of wonderful book inspired recipes by going to Cam's BCCBCC index on her blog.

Cam started this event by choosing one of the books featured in the cookbook.  The rest of the crew were then each assigned a month and were able to choose the book from the cookbook from which the rest would be inspired.  Cam is now finishing this year by, once again, choosing a book that we could read and be inspired or just read about it in the cookbook and be inspired.  She chose Corelli's Mandolin.  You can read more at her invitation post.

Image result for corelli's mandolin

I started this historical novel, set during WWII on the Greek Island of Cephallonia, at the beginning of August.  The book starts off slow and when I finally got to the meat of the story and it grabbed my interest, my out of town guests arrived and reading time was sparse.  Not believing I was going to finish it before the end of the month, I posted my recipe for Gluten Free Spinach Pie, as inspired by what I had read and the cookbook itself.

My guests left a few days ago and I ended up finishing this novel this morning.  I am a huge historical fiction fan.  When I, and I daresay, most Americans think of WWII we think of Germany, Russia and Poland.  I don't know why I don't think of Italy because I know that was where my father was stationed during the war and I never, ever considered Greece or it's tiny Island of Cephallonia. Perhaps, as I was to learn from the novel, because the USA forgot about Greece who had been occupied by the Italian army under order of Mussolini.

The novel depicted very well the tragedies and horrors of war on all involved.  I am always amazed that such evil men as Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin were able to so easily sway and bully the populace to their beliefs and narcissistic agendas.  I am even more frightened that we still see it today in people like Putin, Bin Ladin and scared to death that we are seeing it in our own country during this presidential election.

But, mostly, this is a love story of an Italian soldier and those who know him.  It is the story of Pelagia who is very young and headstrong as the story begins and is being raised by a single father who is very progressive for the times.  They are forced to house this Italian soldier, Carelli, and slowly they learn that the world is not black and white.  Not all of any nationality is bad nor is it good.  There is grace and evil in each religion, race and nationality.  That many people are just not strong enough to stand for their beliefs and that a person's job and assignment does not signify whether they are good, evil or, as most of us, a little of each.

My inspiration, after reading this novel, was much different from the Spinach Pie chosen by the authors of the cookbook.  I am sharing with you today a Snail Pilaf.  Snails play a very important role in this novel.  They are introduced in the beginning as Pelagia and her family forage for wild snails to help allay their hunger caused by the war, mentioned several more times throughout the span of 50 some years and then show up again at the end of the book in a pilaf.  I won't tell you more about the novel than I have as I don't want to include spoilers.

I made my pilaf with quinoa since that is one of the grains allowed today on my new eating plan. Feel free to use rice if you prefer.  Snails are not listed as one of the proteins that I'm allowed but I am sure that it is fine since every other shellfish is included.  Other than that this was a perfect Phase 3 meal containing 4 servings.

Oh my Goodness.  The umami of this dish made me swoon.
The nuttiness of the quinoa matched with the smooth, silkiness of the snails was a perfect match.

Snail Pilaf

1 small onion, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1 small stalk celery, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T. olive oil
1 (8 oz.) can snails, cleaned
1 c. rainbow quinoa
2 c. vegetable stock
2 T. parsley, chopped
Lemon wedges for garnish

Heat olive oil over med high heat in large saucepan.  Add onion, celery, carrots and garlic. Cook and stir until vegetables start to get tender.  Add the snails and quinoa.  Stir and cook for a few minutes before adding the stock.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.  Stir in parsley. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes.  Fluff with a fork and serve with a wedge of lemon.  Print Recipe

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Review of Pure Food, A Chef's Handbook for Eating Clean with Healthy, Delicious Recipes #Benbella

As luck would have it, at the same time I decided to start my new eating program, I also recieved gorgeous cookbook from Benbella Books called Pure Food that was released to the public this month. In return for this book, Benbella requested an honest review which was a given because I am always 100% honest with my readers and all opinions are my own.  I did not receive and monetary compensation for this post.

This lovely cookbook was written by Kurt Beecher Dammier, the owner of Beecher's Handmade Cheese.  I loved browsing their website and I am planning on ordering up the "just add wine" gift box for my husband who has been supporting my new eating plan by giving up alcohol along with me. When this 28 day period is over we will celebrate with wine and cheese, two items not allowed on this eating plan that I miss terribly.

This cookbook is filled with Kurt's story about how he first became aware of food additives when he had an allergic reaction to MSG.  This sent him on an exploration to find what, exactly, the manufacturer's are putting into our foods and bodies, which in turn led him to find a better way.  It reads easily and is filled with gorgeous photos and handwritten notes. 

Kurt has also started a program called Pure Food Kids, where he and his employees go to schools and hold hands on nutrition classes. "Since 2006 we've taught almost 90,000 students how to be 'food detectives'."  We are all called to action by joining the Pure Food Revolution.

There are a lot of amazing sounding recipes in this book starting right off the bat with Oven Dried Grapes and a Roasted Grape Salsa.  Another recipe I will have to wait for as grapes are not allowed for the 28 day eating plan either.  But there are plenty of recipes I can make and enjoy right now, including: Pork Bibimbap, Maximus/Minimus Grilled Chicken Thighs, White Fish Salad, tons of roasted veggies and a delicious sounding Red Quinoa Pilaf.  All of these are on my 'to make' list and I will be sharing them with you when I do.

But to share with you today, review day, I decided on this gorgeous Red Cabbage Peperonata.  I made a couple of slight adaptations. I reduced the recipe.  I used a red balsamic vinegar instead of white as that was what I had in the cupboard.  I was also out of oregano but I had some Italian herb paste that I used instead. Kurt highly reccommends using expeller pressed safflower oil and explains why in his book.  I intend to buy some but haven't gotten out to do so yet, so I substituted hemp oil.

I made this last night to take to John and Kirsten's for dinner.  They had invited us over for steak and salad.  I brought  mushrooms and onions in a grill basket to put on with the steaks, a half dozen ears of sweet corn and this incredible sweet/sour salad to share.  This peperonata should really not be eaten in Phase 2 because of the oil in which the peppers and cabbage are cooked. I decided to live dangerously and have a little anyway, especially since I couldn't have any of that sweet corn. Boy, am I glad I did.  This is like a party in the mouth with all the different wonderful flavors.

I also took John a Strawberry/Rhubarb Pie because today is his birthday and Strawberry Rhubarb Pie is his favorite. I like to spend John's birthday with him so I can rub in the fact that he is older than me, at least for another month LOL.  You can find my recipe for this pie here.

I am linking up over at Foodies Read 2016 where we foodies share what we are reading with others.

Red Cabbage Peperonata
adapted from Pure Foods

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. kosher salt
1 t. Italian Herb paste
1/4 t. crushed red pepper
4 grinds of black pepper
1/4 c. hemp oil
1/2 lb mini sweet peppers, roughly chopped on the bias
3 T. balsamic vinegar
1/4 head red cabbage, coarsely chopped

Combine the garlic, salt, herbs, red pepper and black pepper into a large bowl.  Set aside.

In a large skillet over high heat, heat 2 T. of oil.  Add the sweet peppers and stir to coat, then let cook for about 3 minutes, until they begin to brown.  Add 1 1/2 T. of balsamic vinegar and cook for a minute or two, until the liquid is reduced and the peppers are crisp tender.  Transfer to the bowl containing the seasonings.

Return the skillet to the heat and add the remaing 2 T. oil.  Add the cabbage and stir to coat.  Let cook without stirring until some of the cabbage begins to brown, a couple of minutes.  Add the remaining 1 1/2 T. of vinegar and allow to reduce for a minute before transferring to the pepper mixture.  

Stir well to combine and allow to come to room temperature before serving.  Print Recipe

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Boy it sure is quiet around here.....

It was strange awakening this morning and not have anyone at the house with me but Frank and the mutts.  All of my company has left and life has suddenly gotten very quiet.

Yesterday, when I awoke my brother was still here.  We had breakfast together and visited before he headed out on his Harley, northeast bound to our TC family for the night.  Soon after he left, our Little Angel Face was dropped off so her mama could work.  She will be 2 in September and I don't want you to think I am biased or anything but......she is a little genius!!!  When she plays with her magnet letters on the refrigerator, she puts them all facing the correct way, turning them and moving them until they do.  She talks non stop and recognizes that if we refer to her and say "you're fine" or "you're getting big" that when she says it she should refer to herself "I'm fine" and "I'm big".  Not only that she can comprehend the difference between a group of something ie: animals in the zoo and individual things ie: penguins are one type of animal at the zoo.  Not only is she the smartest little baby in the world but she is also the cutest....Don't trust me cuz I'm her Grammy???  Just take a look for yourself!

We went to the park.  We started off on the swings, checked out the bumblebees and spent a good hour at the splash pad.  Then she came up and requested a towel, climbed on my lap and put her head on my shoulder.  I figured it was time to go home for lunch and a nap.....I'm quick like that.

She had hotdogs and peaches.  Frank and I had leftover Turkey Chili. YUM.  Then she took an hour and a half nap.  When she awoke we took her home, mama was finishing up a last minute project so while we waited for her to return we played on Mel's new swingset and she got to go into her wading pool barenaked. She was in her glory.

On the way home we stopped out for dinner.  Yesterday was not a perfect day for my eating plan but it wasn't a total fail either.  I had scallops which aren't on the list for Phase 1.  I didn 't realize that until after I had ordered.  I also had sauteed spinach and mushrooms which are allowed but I am sure they were cooked in butter, which is not, and they contained bits of prosciutto.  Delicious but not on the list.  There were no grains on the menu that were on the list so I ordered steamed asparagus instead and did not have a grain with my dinner last night.  It was the first day of this diet that the scale wasn't a pound lower in the morning. It wasn't a pound higher either though so I am just going to enjoy the memory of those buttery, flavorful scallops.

That's it.....oh....after dinner we stopped and saw Miss Sue, who is home from the hospital and doing very well.  We had a nice visit. When we came home we finally watched the season finale of Outlanders.  It was on dvr but I didn't think it was appropriate to watch with my Molly, who is only 6 yrs old, staying at the house.  I can't wait for the next season to begin.  Are you an Outlander fan?  You can learn a little more about the series in my review of Written in My Own Heart's Blood which is the 8th book in the series.  The 9th hasn't come out yet but I wish it would hurry up. 

Tonight we are having dinner at Kirsten and John's and then going for a boat ride.  They have a classic, wooden Chris Craft.  Just a gorgeous boat and it is supposed to be a beautiful night.  See you tomorrow.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Turkey Chili

Yesterday morning Mary, Natasha and Molly boarded the train to head back home to California.  It is always nice spending time with them and I hope to make a trip to CA in the near future to pick up where we left off.  My brother is spending one more day with us before he hops on his Harley for the trek home.

Since I have started this new eating plan and decided to take better care of myself, I have been flabbergasted that 2 of my friends have been hospitalized with heart problems.  My dear friend, Miss Sue (gives you some idea of how young my children were when we became friends) had a pulmonary embolism that affected her heart.  She underwent surgery and was able to go home today.  My friend, Mary, who I met when I was in 6th grade had a heart attack this morning.  She underwent surgery to have a stent put in and is resting comfortably.  These incidents are giving me a lot of motivation to stick with this eating plan!!

Frank and I went to the Better Health Market this morning to stock up on this week's menu items. Then he went off to the eye doctor and I put tonight's dinner, turkey chili, into the crockpot.  I had a meeting this afternoon at the church so it was ready and waiting when we both got home.  Larnzy and our brother, Dick, went up to watch my nephew, Jack, play horseshoes.  It's a Michigan thing.

OH EM YUM.....this chili is superb.  I get so excited when I can make a healthy meal that makes you wish that you could have seconds or thirds.  I contained myself but Frank helped himself to a second bowl.  I know what I am having for lunch tomorrow.

This recipe is the bomb.  Ground turkey, lots of beans, onion, zucchini, tomatoes and seasonings.  No fat, all organic, filling, healthy and best of all......scrumpdillyicious.

After dinner we went for a walk over to Kim and Kurt's so Frank could meet their new puppy.  I made it through Week 2, Phase 1 with none of the symptoms I suffered the first week so it was obviously just my body detoxing from the caffeine, alcohol and sugar that it was used to getting.  I am feeling pretty good and the scale was down another pound this morning.  Can't beat that!

Turkey Chili
adapted from The Fast Metabolism Diet

1 lb Ground Turkey Breast
1/2  of a Vidalia onion, diced
2 T. fresh parsley leaves, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. chili powder or to taste
1/4 t. chili pepper paste or to taste
1 (15 oz) can black beans
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans (I used ranchero for a little extra zing)
1 (15 oz.) can great northern beans
1 (15 oz) can lentils
1 large zucchini, diced (about 4 cups)
4 cups chunky tomato soup, not milk based (I used 2 different brands)
1 t. seasalt or to taste

Place the turkey, onion, garlic, chili powder and chili pepper in a large, non stick skillet over med high heat.  Cook and stir until turkey is browned and onions are tender.  Remove to a slow cooker. Pour the soup into the skillet and cook over med high heat, deglazing the pan by bringing the soup to a boil and scraping up any brown bits that were stuck.  Pour over the turkey.  Rinse the beans and lentils and ad to the slowcooker along with the zucchini.  Stir to combine and cook on high heat for 4- 5 hrs or on low heat for 6-8 hrs.  Stir in salt, taste and season as needed.  Print Recipe

Phase 3 Muffins for #MuffinMonday

I started a new eating plan last week following The Fast Metabolism Diet.  The eating plan is broken into 3 phases.  The first phase is on Monday and Tuesday, the second is on Wednesday and Thursday, and the final phase is for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

I wasn't sure that I was going to be able to participate in Muffin Monday this month because you are only allowed to eat certain foods during each phase.  Phase 3, however, allows a lot more options than the other two phases as it lets you eat grains, healthy fats, vegetables, fruit and protein at each meal.  YAY!!!  I was very happy to get to Phase 3 but I am okay with being back on Phase 1 today since I was able to indulge in these lovely muffins over the weekend.

I found this recipe at DAMY Health.  I went through the list of ingredients and was thrilled to see each one was allowed during this phase.  I actually adapted the recipe a bit by adding zucchini to the muffins because my plan required a vegetable to be included in the morning meal.  This recipe made 9 full size muffins.  It is gluten free and grain free.  It is the first muffin I have made of this sort.  I wasn't sure what to expect.

They were moist, with a nice crumb.  That being said...This was my first time working with Stevia.  It made the muffins cloyingly sweet with a bitter aftertaste.  When I make these muffins again (off the eating plan) I will use honey or maple syrup for the sweetener.  With that change in mind, I can reccomend these muffins for those who are trying to eat naturally and gluten free.

Phase 3 Muffins
adapted from DAMY Health

2 c. almond flour
2 eggs + 2 egg whites
1/4 c. stevia   honey or maple syrup
1/2 t. baking soda
1 T. apple cider vinegar
pinch of salt
1 t. vanilla
2 T. olive oil
1 c. blueberries
1 c. shredded zucchini

Place all ingredients except blueberries and zucchini in the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix until well blended, stir in the blueberries and zucchini.  Divide between 9 muffin cups that have been lined with cupcake papers.  Bake in a preheated 350* oven for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center removes cleanly.  Print Recipe

Many More Muffins

 #MuffinMonday is a group of muffin loving bakers who get together once a month to bake muffins. You can see all our of lovely muffins by following our Pinterest board.
Updated links for all of our past events and more information about Muffin Monday, can be found on our home page.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Final Day of Week 1 and a Recipe to Share

Today is the final day of Phase 3 and Week 1 of the Fast Metabolism Diet.  If you linked back to see what the heck I'm talking about you may also be interested in my update and Weekly Menu for this week.  You will see that I had originally planned on Hamburgers for dinner tonight because I wasn;t sure how many people would be coming by to say goodbye to my brother and his family who are visiting from California and leaving in the morning.  Yes, I am allowed hamburgers.  I would have had mine on a sprouted grain English Muffin or I could have it without a bun.  Unfortunately, or fortunately since we really needed it, storms were expected throughout the day so I decided to throw a beef roast in the crockpot and let it cook away until dinner time.  I was content knowing that there would be plenty of food and if we had leftovers they would not go to waste.

If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen my post last week about receiving this gift box of seasoned salts from Rolling Rock Farm.  They sent this gift box to each blogger that partook in the Unearthed Party.  There was no expectation from Rolling Rock to be advertised on our blogs but I thought since I was using Tony's Tremendous Topping seasoning salt, I would give them a shout out and thank them publicly for the gift.

Back to dinner......I went into my freezer and pulled out a sirloin tip roast.  Put it in my crockpot, frozen, along with some veggies and vegetable stock.  I add the Tony's Tremendous Topping, some chili pepper paste I had been gifted by Gourmet Garden and some True Made Veracha Sauce that was sent to me for #Cookout Week .  Set the cook time for 8 hrs on high (since it was frozen) and forgot about it.   I want to say that although Gourmet Garden and True Made are not sponsoring this post, they have been invaluable to me for this eating plan.  When you are cutting down on sugar and processed foods it is nice to have natural products in your refrigerator to which you can turn.  The True Made Ketchup is especially a blessing because in contains nothing except fresh veggies and it is delicious so I can enjoy it when I do have those burgers I was talking about earlier.

After 1 full week, I am 6 lbs lighter than when I started and can honestly say that this is a very easy eating plan to follow.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did.

Sirloin Tip Roast

1 (4 lb) Sirloin Tip Roast
1 red pepper, cored and large diced
1 green pepper, cored and large diced
8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 Vidalia onion, sliced
salt, pepper, garlic and herbs to taste ( I used Tony's Tremendous Topping)
1/2 t. chili pepper paste (I used Gourmet Garden)
2 T. Hot Sauce (I used True Made Veracha Sauce)
2 c. vegetable stock

Place all ingredients into a slow cooker.  Cook on low heat for 8-10 hrs.  Print Recipe

Friday, July 22, 2016

Entering into Phase 3 and the Weekly Menu

Well I have made it through Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the eating plan.  I shared this recipe for Chicken Broccoli Rice Bowl  from Phase 1 with you and told you a little bit about how my first day went. The second day was about the same as the first day.  I don't know if I was still detoxing or if Phase 1 is just going to be difficult for me.  We will know more after Monday and Tuesday of next week.

I felt pretty darn good during Phase 2 which is the meat and veggies phase.  I did miss being able to have any fruit or grains but I felt pretty stable mentally and was never hungry during this phase. I am now going into Phase 3 of the eating plan.  During this phase we are able to eat many more items at each meal and snack.  Each meal gets to have a healthy fat, grains, protien, veggies and fruit.

I am anxious to see how my body reacts to this phase and I am excited to plan my menu for the next week. I am thrilled that, after 4 full days on this plan, my weight is down 5 lbs.

Saturday night we are taking Larry, Mary and Natasha out to dinner.  We will be celebrating Larry and Mary's 50th Wedding Anniversary.

Sunday is our last meal with all of our CA folks.  I am not sure who will be coming by to see them or how many we will be having for dinner so I am keeping it easy with burgers and salads.

Mary, Natasha and Molly leave at 5 am on Monday morning.  I have a meeting at church at 4 pm and Larry and our brother, Dick, are spending the evening together before Larry leaves for his road trip back home on his Harley.  He makes that trip every year.

Things quiet way down after that with nothing scheduled as of yet.  Still waiting on appraisals on the houses and closing dates.  Enjoy the Weekly Menu and I will be talking to you soon.

Dinner out

Grilled Burgers
Assorted Salads

Turkey Chili

Chicken Sausage and Brown Rice Pasta

Southwestern Beef and Cabbage Soup

Strip Steak
Mushrooms and Onions
Steamed Broccoli
Garlic Mashed Potatoes for Frank

Fish Friday
Coconut Pecan Crusted Halibut
Artichokes and Hummus Dip
Sweet Potato for me/Baked Potato for Frank