Friday, March 9, 2012

BLT Salad & how my Mother Enables Me...

I am back from visiting with my parents and one Awesome College Kid and her roommates (you know who you are) in Washington State. I was there because my Mom had surgery and wanted some help-she is doing well. as is my dad.  Thanks for all your prayers. One of the side effects of spending time with the rents is that I fall way deep off of the Low Carb diet wagon-  Mom always has treats in the house, and they are generally sugary treats that I LOVE! Or bread- my Mom insists on having good bread in the house. But mostly, its the sugary sweetness. Damn you cinnamon gummy hearts, vanilla sugar wafers and Oreo Cookies- you are my crack! Once I start, I CANNOT STOP. My Mother knows this.  She also knows I love them and am weak in their presence. She is also the reason I show my love for others via food, and so my Mother, in a way was showing her love for me via the presence of all the wonderful bread and sweet yummieness I deny myself at home-I guess this would make my mother my drug pusher. Or at the very least an enabler...  I suppose I could always just say no to them.  I can you know. I don't need them, I can stop at any time- I can!

I digress-
I am now home and getting back on track.Namely by not allowing the Bread-Oreo-Gummy-Sugar Wafer Demons into the house and working the program. One Day at a time...

This morning I was craving a BLT Sandwich on some of the lovely white sandwich bread my mom had last week.  I was determined to not give into the bread demon so thought of a way to combine the flavors in a way I could eat them without giving into Carbs... This Salad is surprisingly simple, low on carbs, high on flavor and can be ready in a little more than the time it takes you to cook the bacon.

  For One:

3 Slices bacon, cooked & Diced
1 Roma Tomato, Diced
1-2 Tablespoons REAL Mayo
2 Cups Salad Greens- cut or shredded or however you like them prepared
Salt and pepper to taste

In a Medium bowl, combine the bacon, tomato & Mayo (start with 1 TBSP- add more if you need it) season to taste with the salt and pepper. Toss this mixture with the lettuce. Enjoy.

Crazy simple, low on the carb index and crazy yummy.

PS: My Mother is a lovely woman who made sure I would have my comfort foods in hand during a high stress time, and is not, at all, in any way, nor has she ever been a drug dealer.

PSS: 12 Step programs work and I fully support them.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Kreieki's Buffalo (sort of) Wings- A Football Story

So- we all know that there is a big football game on Sunday.  I don't care if you like football, in America, on this one particular Sunday, we all gather around the old boob tube and watch very muscular men attack each other over a ball made of pig skin.  This is tradition- it is almost sacred.  It is definitely a Holiday.  When I lived overseas, Americans would gather for the game at whatever time locally it started, usually around 3 AM and watch the game.  It unified us with our fellow Americans. Most of us would take Monday off. The locals, while maybe not fully understanding this game we called football, (Heck, there are tons of Americans who don't understand it) after all, it doesn't look at all like what the rest of the world calls football, understood this need to join together to rival it out on the sports field.  It is the one time every year that we are almost all focused on the same thing.  There is ceremony and ritual and food. It's AWESOME

Unlike other modern festivals, the food that is consumed at Superbowl Parties is purposefully NOT healthy. Pizza, Chili, Nachos, Chips and Dips, Guacamole, GALLONS of Beer are all fair   We here at Casa De Kreieki have a special love for Super Bowl Sunday- we threw our first party together for Super Bowl- a LONG time ago.  Almost every year since we have had a few friends over and we eat bad for you, but ohh so good tasting food.  Today I will be making Guacamole, Salsa, Crudites and my (almost) world famous Buffalo Wings.  These are insanely good, relatively easy and you will make the party if this is what you bring. 

Kreieki's Buffalo (sort of) Wings

In a large bowl, combine the following
  • 1 bottle of beer
  • 1 cup Jack Daniels or other American Whiskey
  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • Juice of one lemon (save the peel)
  • Juice of on lime (save the peel)
  • 1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
  • 3 Tbsps Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Red Chili Flakes
  • 2 Tbsp Red Chili Powder
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp Oregano- Mexican preferred
  • 3 Tbsp Cumin
  • 2 Tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Sage
  • 2 Heads of Garlic, diced or pressed
In a plastic container, put one cup of the above marinade with 2 cubes of unsalted butter.  Seal and refrigerate

In a large plastic zip bag, place 4-8 lbs of party wings, cover with remaining marinade.  Add either another beer or chicken stock to cover the wings Add the lemon and lime peels. Seal the bag, give it a shake, place the bag in a big bowl in your fridge- if you don't put the bag in a bowl, it is guaranteed to leak. Let marinate for at least 12 hours and up to 48 hours. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line 2 cookie sheet with foil. Place wire cooling racks on the cookie sheets. spray with cooking spray. Put the wings in a single layer on the racks and bake for 1 hour. 

While the wings are baking, combine the reserved marinade and butter with 1 bottle of Franks Hot Sauce in a medium sauce pan.  Heat it all until the butter is melted, keep warm.  When the wings are done, toss in the butter sauce. Serve with celery and blue cheese dressing.


If you do not cook with alcohol, you can make this by substituting chicken stock for all of the alcohol, adding 1 more TBSP of salt and the juice of 2 more lemons and limes. 

I don't have any idea how to make this vegetarian... 

The marinade is great for chicken any time of year.

Enjoy and remember: LETS GO PATS!!! 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup- Perfect for this dreary day!

It's cold.  It's damp. It's gross out there.  We here In Philly have had a warmer winter than normal.  We have not gotten much snow- a little over the weekend, but then it warmed up and rained and now it's just blah. It is the perfect time for soup. I love to make soups, stews and chili's.  They are easy, tasty and most of the time, once everything is in the pot you can ignore it while you go about your business.  They also have the added bonus of making the house smell awesome.

I make up this Chicken Tortilla Soup a lot- mostly because I have almost everything for it on hand all the time.  It is also a soup that tastes pretty good if it can only simmer for 30 minutes, or taste awesome if it has time to sit on the back burner for longer- up to 3 hours.  It is also a good one to take to people- I have taken it as a housewarming dish or for new parents. It refrigerates well and reheats well.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
2 lbs   boneless & skinless chicken (breast or thighs) cut into small pieces
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 or 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 ribs celery, diced
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
6 cloves garlic- crushed or minced
1 Lime
1 Tbsp Honey
2 Tbsp Mexican Oregano (reg. oregano will work too)
3 Tbsp Chile Powder ( I use 1 Tbsp green chile and 2 Tbsp red chile powder- if you only have the red, that's fine)
1 Tbsp Cumin
1 Tbsp Onion powder
1 26 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 med tomato, diced
6 cups chicken stock
1 7 oz can diced green chiles
1 can of black beans
1 bunch spinach, rinsed and chopped or 1 10 oz pack frozen spinach, thawed.

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add chicken, sprinkle a little salt and pepper, and saute until you cannot see any pink.  Add the onions and stir well,  cooking for about 5 minutes.  Add carrots and celery, stir and let cook for about 5 minutes- stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, over med-low heat, heat the cumin,oregano, onion powder and chile powder, just until the aroma is released. Should take no more than 2 minutes- remove from heat and set aside.  If you want to skip the toasting of the spices, that is OK, the flavor will not be as deep. but it will be good

Add the juice from 1/2 of the lime to the chicken and vegetable mixture.  Add the fresh tomato and garlic.  Stir and cook until the tomato is limp, about a minute or two. Add the spice mixture, stir and let sit for a minute or two.  Add the canned tomatoes, honey, canned chiles, black beans and stock.  Give it a good stir, then raise the heat to med-high- you want to bring the soup to a boil. Let it boil for 5 -7 minutes.  Reduce heat, add the spinach, stir and let simmer for 30 minutes.   Add the juice from the second half of the lime. Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately or simmer for up to 3 hours.

To serve, ladle into bowls.  Add a few tortilla strips/ chips and a squeeze of lime or chopped cilantro- if you want.  I usually skip the garnishments, but as it has been pointed out, if it does not have tortillas in it, it is not technically a tortilla soup.  I like to serve this with warm flour tortillas or corn bread.

Vegetarian: Substitute Zucchini and/or Chayote squash for the chicken and use vegetable stock instead of the chicken.  I also add a second can of beans- Pinto or Black. 

Pork: You can cube pork instead of chicken and have a nice pork stew. 

Crock Pot: Sautee the meat and veggies, add  the meat/ veggies and everything else to a crock pot and let cook on low all day. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Resolutions-Low Carb Living- A recipe eventually

Happy New Year!!! Hope everyone is settling into 2012 quite nicely.  So far, so good, here on the homestead.  I am doing, uhm, OK on my resolutions. I am not a big believer in setting up goals that you will most likely fail at, so I set some pretty basic resolutions.
They are as follows;
  • Learn to knit
  • Walk outside for 30 minutes more days than not
  • Get back to the low-carb way of life
A bit on these- I love textile art- quilts, embroidery, clothing, tapestries, yarn work. I have been a miserable failure at most previous attempts at textile art, mostly because I have the patience of a 2 year old.  I want to see a project finished. I also don't like to do things where correcting the mistakes will take longer than just starting over.  A friend of mine suggested knitting- I then told her I wanted to learn how to knit. She gave me a skein of yarn and some lovely needles.  I am trying to learn...

Walking outdoors is a great way to fight a myriad of ailments. End of story.

Now, about the Low Carb Lifestyle.  I am not thin.  I will never be thin.  I have no desire to be thin.  I do however, want to avoid a ton of diseases that plague my family- diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease. My husband has high blood pressure and wants to loose weight to get off the medications he takes to control the blood pressure.  Two years ago we researched and discovered that the low carb lifestyle works well for us.  In 2010 we lost together, approximately the weight of a second grader. My husband was able to stop taking one of his medications. My blood pressure went from borderline high to enviously normal. It worked for us- we could still eat out, the dude could follow it while traveling, I could still eat steak.

Then, 2011 happened- a lot of stuff hit the fan.  I lost my job, broke my elbow, we had lots of illnesses, stress and worry in our family and we lost my husbands father.  All of this resulted in a lot of stress and eating/traveling places where we couldn't or didn't follow the low carb diet. So, we decided to make a concentrated effort to get back on track in 2012.

Last time we did this I discovered that I hated not having something white on the plate.  Think about it- pasta, potatoes, rice and bread all offer a lighter color and texture than meats and veggies. I did a little research and discovered that celery root and turnips are low in carbs, high in fiber, absorb flavors and give a creamy texture when baked for a while.  Seriously- knowing I could make a gratin in order to have something white on the plate that was low carb- YAY!! It also allowed me to make a meat free option for my vegeterian friends who joined us for dinner.    Here is the recipe I use: For low carb use celery root or turnips, for higher carbs, use parsnips or potatoes.

Root Vegetable Gratin

2 lbs root vegetables, washed, peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup cream or half & half
1 Cup shredded or crumbled cheese
Salt and pepper

Cayenne pepper, Paprika, herbs garlic powder, 1 tsp anchovy paste

Preheat oven to 350.  Toss the onion and vegetables with the melted butter. Place in a 9 inch pie dish or baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, bring the cream and cheese to a low boil in a small sauce pan.  Uncover the root vegetables and pour the sauce over the veggies and bake, uncovered for 45-60 minutes.  Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Candy Even You Can Make

Hi- Merry Christmas!  May the Deity of your choice bless you this Holiday Season.  I have been crazy busy this Christmas time- it all starts mid November for me and ends on January 2.  Tons of cooking and about a million dishwasher loads of dishes happen in my tiny kitchen.  This is the one time of year I complain about my apartment kitchen- it is just too small to do all that I need it to do.  Oh well.

Christmas is about love, and I love food, and I love feeding the people I love.  I have started making toffee every Christmas, mostly because it is insanely yummy, but also because it is easy, impressive and can be made in the smallest of kitchen.  Here is a recipe that you can make in about an hour, and you probably have most of the ingredients in your kitchen now.

 2 Sticks Unsalted Butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Cup Salted  & Smoke Roasted Almonds- 3/4 cup coarsely chopped, 1/4 cup finely chopped (use a food processor)
2 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon PURE vanilla
1 Teaspoon coarse sea salt
6 oz bittersweet or dark chocolate chips

1: Line two cookie sheets with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray
2: In a small sauce pan, melt together butter, sugar and water over medium heat.  Stir constantly, occasionally scraping down the sides with a water moistened pastry brush.
3: Continue to cook until it reaches hard ball stage-  302 Degrees on a candy thermometer- approximately 15 minutes- but seriously- use the candy thermometer.
4: Once it reaches 302 degrees, remove from heat.  quickly stir in the coarsely chopped almonds, salt and vanilla
5: Pour this mixture onto one of the prepared cookie sheets.  Spread into a thin layer
6: Quickly put half of the chocolate chips onto the mixture and spread with a spatula.  The heat will melt the chips.
7: Put the cookie sheet in the freezer for at least 15 minutes, until the chocolate is set- but no more than 20 minutes
8: Remove the sheet from the freezer, invert onto the second prpared sheet and peel the aluminum foil from the sheet
9: Melt in the microwave the other half of the choc chips
10: Spread the melted chocolate over the toffee, and quickly sprinkle the finely chopped almonds on top of the chocolate
11: return to the freezer for 15- 20 minutes.
12: Remove from freezer break into shards and enjoy

Monday, October 17, 2011

A word about breakfast

I love breakfast-- eggs, some sort of pork product, potatoes or tortillas.   Throw some beans and chile and I am a happy camper.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

You asked for it- You got it= Tequila Lime Chile Chicken- and a Baseball Rant

Hey Y'All-
OK- here's the deal, last night the Phillies had a play off game- and a friend was visiting from Chicago and staying with another friend of mine who is a HUGE GINORMOUS SUPER PHILLIES fan.  We wanted to hang with our friend from Chicago & we had to watch the game- the only answer was to go to our  HUGE GINORMOUS SUPER FAN friends house, order a few Pizza's drink some beer and watch the Phillies have their Asses handed to them by the Cardinal's.  Stupid Cardinal's- and hey, Phillies- Learn to hit the damn ball...and run- during a have 6 months- I believe in  you !! Halladay is not the team, nor is Howard-- Ruiz- call me- you are kind of cute---and not arrogant... and you know I can cook like your Madre...
What?? He can come for dinner when the Dude is home.... But I Digress....

Anyhoodle- In the midst of all the friend from Chicago, the LAST Phillies Game of the Season (URGHHH HURUMPHH BOOO HISSS Stupid Cardinals) I was asked to lead a tour at my favorite market-  The Reading Terminal Market on Saturday and The Dude reminded me that he was going to be leaving for a week on Sunday and we just came back from a month (almost) away and he might, possibly, like a home- cooked meal before he leaves.

What is a girl to do-- Feed the Dude, do a tour- or Watch a Game????
Duh-Duah- Dahhh- Brined Chicken
I posted a pic of the finished product on Facebook and a couple people asked for the recipe 

Here's the recipe- it is best if you let the chicken brine for at least 18 hours- or up to 48 hours


4 to 6 Chicken Leg quarters (legs and thighs, connected, on the bone with skin)
8-10 Cloves Garlic
3/4 cup Kosher Salt
3/4 Cup Sugar or Honey
2 TBSP Each- Mustard Seed, Cumin, Chile Powder, Black Pepper Corns, Chipolte Chile Powder, Mexican or standard Oregano, garlic powder, onion powder
1 Tsp Dried  Dill
2 Limes, Washed, sliced with peel in tact
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup tequila
3 Chile Pods- pref. New Mexican
4 to 6 cups warm water
      In a large bowl mix all ingredients except for chicken and limes until sugar and salt dissolve- the hotter the water the faster this happens.  Add the chicken and lime slices to the bowl, cover securely and refrigerate for 18-48 hours.

To Roast:
Preheat oven to 525 Deg FSlice a  a LARGE Spanish or White onion into thick slices (5-6 slices)
Peel and cut into thirds 4 large carrots
4 Celery stalks cut into thirds
6 peeled garlic cloves
2- 3 Chile Pods
1 lime- sliced

Spray a large roasting pan with non stick cooking spray
place the above mentioned veggies on the bottom of the pan
Arrange the chicken pieces on the veggies
Discard the brine

 Carefully pour in half of the following mixture

3/4 cup Tequilla
1 Cup Dry white wine
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp chile powder
1 tbsp Sea Salt
1 Tbsp Garlic

Put the pan in the oven and let roast for 30 minutes

After 30 minutes, decrease the temp to 325 and pour the remained of the tequila mixture into the roasting pan. roast for 50 minutes

Pull the pan from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes
Arrange chicken on & Veggies on a platter- pour the juices into a seperate bowl- serve.
  You can serve with a salad or potatos-

you can also grill the chicken after brining and just roast the veggies with sauce wrapped in foil until carrots are tender.

Questions-- let me know...