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You'll find over 425 of my favorite recipes here, including ideas for Quick meals, Cooking for 2, Feasting on Leftovers, and cooking with 5 Ingredients or Less. I'm adding new posts regularly; you can subscribe by email or RSS feed if you'd like to receive the latest recipes. Bon appétit!

8 Days in Louisiana

May 4, 2018

By Kath Dedon

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(Print the list of our favorite New Orleans and Louisiana places)

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This is a long post about our recent trip to Louisiana. I wrote it primarily for Bob and myself so we can relive the trip when we read it. All of the things mentioned are restaurants and places that we truly enjoyed, so if you have vacation plans in Louisiana you may find it helpful. If you’re only interested in the recipes on the blog, I promise I’ll be back with a new one soon!

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Bob moved to Seattle from New Orleans in May, 1980. He had lived there for 2 years, long enough to make many life-long friends. I also have 3 first cousins who live in Louisiana with their families. Bob and I got married in 1983, and we now have a lot of favorite people to visit when we go to Louisiana.

We have traveled to Louisiana several times, but we hadn’t been there since 2007 which was before I started this blog. That year we visited New Orleans in early May to go to Jazz Fest with friends from Seattle. Our plan was to have BBQ Shrimp for lunch at Pascal’s Manale on Friday before heading to Jazz Fest. While we were there it started to rain. It rained, and it RAINED! New Orleans had 4.2 inches of rain that afternoon! As we were finishing our lunch, we watched the street fill with water and the TV in the restaurant was showing live video of the rain and mud at Jazz Fest. We ordered another bottle of wine and decided to wait until Saturday to go to Jazz Fest.

 

Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral, 2005

March 2005 photo of St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square

 

2018

We couldn’t believe that it’s been 11 years since we had been to New Orleans. We were long overdue.

We planned this trip around the Festival International de Louisiane in Lafayette. One of my cousins, Maggie, lives in Lafayette with her family. She has long told us that we need to go to this special music festival. We had been to New Orleans Jazz Fest several times, but this was the year to go to the Festival in Lafayette.

On Monday, April 23, we flew to New Orleans. We stayed with our good friends, John and Ann, at their beautiful home near Magazine Street. They really enjoy being able to walk to all of the shops and restaurants that are so close to them. It was so great to see them and we were really glad they were in town. They have grandchildren in Boston and Atlanta, so they are often out of town. 😉

When we flew in, John and Ann met us at Meg’s house and the five of us went out for dinner. Dinner was at Brisbi’s. We feasted on raw oysters and Basin Debris Fries (“slow roasted beef debris over cheese fries topped with horseradish cream”) for appetizers and then ordered dinner. I enjoyed their wedge salad with fried shrimp. The  food and service were both great. We were enjoying catching up with each other so much that we didn’t realize that the restaurant had closed. When we left, every other table was empty and the chairs had been put up. We were never once rushed to leave! Amazing!

On Tuesday, Bob and I went to Audubon Park and the zoo. We love the Louisiana Swamp exhibit where they not only exhibit local wildlife, but they also post recipes for many of them. It’s an education about the culture of the Cajun people who live in Southern Louisiana.

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Spanish moss on some, but not all, of the oak trees in Audubon Park

Audubon park, oak tree with Spanish moss

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As seen in the Louisiana Swamp Exhibit at the Audubon Zoo

At Audubon zoo

 

Other meal highlights in New Orleans included lunch at Guys Po-Boys, where we had fried shrimp po-boys, and a steak dinner at the classic Crescent City Steaks.

On Wednesday morning we went to the National World War II Museum, which is most definitely a must-see museum in New Orleans. It’s rated by Trip Advisor as the #1 museum in New Orleans, the #2 museum in the US, and the #2 museum in the world!

We couldn’t believe how much it has grown since we were last there over 11 years ago. When we first visited, the Museum was housed in just one building, the Louisiana Memorial Pavilion. Today there are 5 buildings on 6 acres and there are new buildings planned for the future.

We didn’t have much time before we had to leave for Covington. Our friend, Meg, who works at the Museum, told us that the first thing to do is to see the movie, Beyond All Boundaries, which is narrated by the Executive Producer, Tom Hanks. It is really excellent and gives you a great perspective on what the world was like at the time. The rest of the exhibits are more meaningful after having seen the movie. We left after the movie but decided we had to go back when we returned to New Orleans in five days.

We left the WWII Museum to drive across Lake Pontchartrain on the causeway to visit my cousin, Marty and his wife, Mary Thomas in Covington. It was so great to spend some time with them. Their beautiful home has a park-like backyard and you can walk down to the East Fork Little Bogue Falaya with its white sand beach. We had lunch at the Money Hill Golf Course. Dinner that night was a fantastic Spicy Shrimp Creole that Marty and Mary Thomas made. They said it was adapted from a recipe in Donald Link’s Real Cajun, a cookbook that is a favorite of theirs. (I just got it and I’m looking forward to exploring its recipes.)

 

Bob and Marty and I walked down to the East Fork Little Bogue Falaya

Marty and Bob - East Fork Little Bogue Falaya

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Marty and Mary Thomas’ peaceful backyard

Peaceful backyard

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Lunch the next day was at Acme Oyster House in Covington. We had both raw and chargrilled oysters. Both were delicious, but the chargrilled ones (“sizzling, chargrilled oysters saturated in an herb butter sauce, topped with a special blend of cheese.”) were especially good. I had the Fried Oyster Salad. Bob ordered, and ate, an oyster po-boy, gumbo, and red beans and rice. He didn’t want to miss out on any Louisiana delicacies.

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Acme Oyster House in Covington

 

My fried oyster salad with balsamic vinaigrette

Fried Oyster Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette at Acme Oyster House

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Bob enjoyed his oyster po-boy, gumbo, and red beans and rice!

Bob's Oyster Po-Boy, Seafood Gumbo, and Red Beans and Rice

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That afternoon we cruised a bit of the Tchefuncte River on a 32-foot Grand Banks power boat with some friends of Marty and Mary Thomas. It was just a beautiful afternoon. We sipped wine and enjoyed cheese, salami, and pate.

 

Cruising down the Tchefuncte River near Madisonville, LA

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After docking the boat we headed for dinner at Crabby Shack in nearby Madisonville. I tried a grilled fish that was new to me, Sheepshead. It was delicious served over a salad with remoulade dressing. Bob had crawfish and a small hot sausage po-boy. I tasted the crawfish and they were great. The po-boy featured sausage patties instead of links. Bob really enjoyed it! My big surprise was when I tasted Marty’s fried catfish. I didn’t think I liked catfish, but here it was fresh, thinly sliced, battered lightly, and fried. It was delicious!

We hit the road on Friday to travel to Lafayette. On the way we stopped in Baton Rouge to see our friends, Julia and Stewart & Becky. It was great to see them. We had lunch with Stewart and Becky at Heads & Tails. I had their Shrimp Remoulade Salad. Bob ordered the Fried Oyster BLT. It was a like a club sandwich with 3 slices of bread. The fried oysters were on one side and the BLT was on the other. The waitress said you just have to squish it down to get it in your mouth. Bob removed the middle slice of bread to reduce it a bit.

Bob’s Fried Oyster BLT

Bob's triple decker Fried Oyster BLT at Heads & Tails Seafood in Baton Rouge

 

My Shrimp Remoulade Salad, with the Remoulade Sauce on the side

Shrimp Remoulade Salad with the Remoulade sauce on the side

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We got to Maggie and Rick’s house in Lafayette at about 5:00. Rick was already at the Festival International de Louisiane, so we took an Uber with Maggie to the Festival grounds to meet him.

Bob expected the Festival to be a lot like Jazz Fest, but it’s really quite different. As their website says, it’s “a non-profit organization that produces the largest international music and arts festival in the United States with a special emphasis on the connection between Acadiana and the Francophone world”. There were musicians from all over the world performing on 5 different stages. We saw musicians from Gambia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Quebec, Ireland, Jamaica, Iran, New Brunswick, Haiti, and Louisiana.

 

On Friday night we saw Mydy Rabycad, a group from the Czech Republic

Mydy Rabycad from the Czech Republic

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Unlike Jazz Fest, the Festival is free, and it is strongly supported by the Lafayette community. 2600 people volunteer in various roles to make it all happen. The food and drinks are reasonably priced ($4 beers). The food was really good! Over the course of 3 days we enjoyed shrimp po-boys, pulled pork, crab cakes, jambalaya, and grilled gator. My favorite meal in Lafayette, though, was Maggie’s homemade crawfish pie that we had for dinner Sunday night. It was fabulous!

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Bob and Kath making the “Y” in Lafayette at the Festival

Making the Y in Lafayette.jpg

 

Besides music, The Festival features many artists and they are quite good. 

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Alligators represented in art at The Festival

Alligators painted on a screen.jpg

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Bob doing his best alligator imitation

Bob making his best alligator face

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We even bought a couple of pieces and had them shipped to Seattle.

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Our mask by Calvin Walton 

Mask by Calvin Walton

 

Our flying fish sculpture by Mitch Landry

Fling fish sculpture by Mitch Landry.jpg

 

On Saturday we enjoyed 6 different musical performances.

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Frigg, from Finland

Frigg on stage.jpg

 

Socks in the Frying Pan, from Ireland, as seen from our shaded seats

Socks in the Frying Pan from Ireland.jpg

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The Festival is indeed free, but you can buy a “Bons Temps Pass” and Maggie and Rick treated us to that perk. You wear a wrist band each day, and it entitles you to front row viewing right in front of the stages, shaded seating with chairs, and private air-conditioned restroom trailers which were kept spotlessly clean throughout the festival. It was very nice to have that pass. (Thank you, Maggie and Rick!)

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We had the Bons Temps Pass

Festival pass

Pass benefits

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On Sunday, before the Festival opened at noon, we went to Mass at The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. In honor of the Festival, the Mass was in French and the choir was Les Jeunes Chanteurs d’Acadie from New Brunswick, Canada. The acoustics in the Cathedral are wonderful and the music was just beautiful. We saw the choir again later in the day at the Festival.

 

Inside the Cathedral

The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist

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VERY large oak tree at the Cathedral

Oak at St. John's

About the St. John's oak.jpg

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After Mass we enjoyed another afternoon of great music at The Festival!

On Monday, April 30, we returned to New Orleans via US 90 so we could stop at Avery Island to tour the Tabasco factory. I had purchased tickets for the self-guided tour online. I don’t know if it’s necessary to purchase tickets in advance, but it seemed like a good idea. The tour is very well done. Each area is numbered so you know where to go next. There are brief videos at each section that describe what you’re seeing.

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Barrels of Tabasco

Barrels of Tabasco.jpg

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Caps being put on the bottles

Putting the caps on Tabasco.jpg

 

Bob actually did not plan his outfit to match the Tabasco bottles. The Original Tabasco Sauce is his very favorite hot sauce.

Bob at the Tabasco Sauce Factory

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The Tabasco Gift Shop had an amazing assortment of all things Tabasco! They provide pretzel sticks to use for tasting the different flavors of the sauce. One product that was new to us was Tabasco Sriracha sauce. We loved that one. We didn’t want to carry it home; I trusted that I would be able to order it online. Sure enough, I found Tabasco Sriracha on Amazon. It’s being delivered today.

After our tour, we continued on US 90 through the Acadiana Region of Louisiana toward New Orleans. We were driving along and Bob mentioned a great seafood place, Spahr’s, which he had visited near Des Allemands about 40 years ago. He said they had a giant stuffed turtle.

Not long after our conversation we drove past Spahr’s on the highway! We were ready for lunch so Bob pulled off the highway and we drove back to the restaurant. Bob looked around for the turtle, but it wasn’t there. He asked about it and was told that the restaurant he remembered had burned due to a kitchen fire. They opened another restaurant in Thibodaux and then rebuilt at the original location in 2006.

The stuffed turtle may have been lost, but they had a photo of a huge turtle right by our table. Spahr’s is known for their Wild Caught Des Allemands Catfish” so, naturally, that’s what we had. I had a half order of their “original” Catfish Chips with French fries. Bob had the Monday special, Catfish Chips with red beans and rice. The catfish was fantastic! I can no longer say that I don’t like catfish. I’m just picky about the source of the catfish and how it’s prepared!

 

Spahrs Seafood Restaurant on Hwy 90 just west of Des Allemandes.jpg

 

Really delicious catfish!

Catfish chips at Spahrs

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When we got back to New Orleans we went back to the WWII Museum. The first thing we did was to go to the interactive Final Mission: USS Tang Experience. It’s a submarine experience that places visitors aboard the most successful submarine in WWII for its fifth and final war patrol. Each person is given a card with a picture of one of the men on the submarine and your assigned station. I was 28-year-old Pete Narowanski from Baltimore, MD. I was assigned to station 13, the Torpedo Data Computer. The presentation is very moving and it gives you a feeling for what it would have been like to have been on that mission.

That night we had dinner at Juan’s Flying Burrito at the Uptown location (5538 Magazine Street), not to be confused with their Lower Garden District location at 2018 Magazine Street. Our friend, Meg, joined us as did my New Orleans cousin, Maureen, and her family. Maureen and Steve’s college-aged daughters were home for a brief visit before heading off for internships. It was wonderful to have the chance to see the whole family!

To celebrate crawfish season, Juan’s featured Crawfish Enchiladas and that’s exactly what Bob and I enjoyed. We may have some great Mexican restaurants at home, but none of them serve crawfish enchiladas!

We had a full day on May 1, our last day in New Orleans. We met our friends, Berkley and Susan, for breakfast at Riccobono’s Panola Street Café. I was excited to see liver and onions on the breakfast menu, so that’s what I had with grits. Bob chose eggs, bacon, and a biscuit that he declared to be really good. Susan had to leave early to teach a ceramics class, and we learned from Berkley that she is quite the accomplished artist. Besides teaching classes, her ceramics are featured in the gift shop at the New Orleans Museum of Art!

 

Riccobono’s Panola Street Cafe

Riccobono's Panola Street Cafe.jpg

 

My liver and onions with grits! 🙂

Liver and Onions and grits at Riccobono's Panola Street Cafe.jpg

 

After breakfast we drove out to the art museum to see Susan’s art. It is truly beautiful. As Susan says on her website, “The Shop carries a range of my work from tiny boxes and pitchers to floral bowls and large curious animals.” It was fun to see these creations made by our talented friend.

 

New Orleans Museum of Art

New Orleans Art Museum.jpg

 

Ceramics by Susan Bergman

By Susan Bergman.jpg

Ceramics by Susan Bergman.jpg

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We met our friends, Victor and Bunny, for lunch at Mandina’s, “New Orleans’ favorite restaurant for Italian and seafood home-style cooking for more than eight decades.” They were featuring soft shell crab, so I had fried soft shell crab with French fries. Fantastic! And it was wonderful to see Victor and Bunny. It had been too long.

 

Soft Shell Crab at Mandina’s

Softshell crab at Mandina's.jpg

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After lunch we still had some time before our evening flight home, so we drove out to the Southern Yacht Club to see its new building. We had visited the old clubhouse prior to Hurricane Katrina. The clubhouse was flooded, but it was a fire after the storm that destroyed it. With online coverage of the destruction in New Orleans, we watched live videos of the building fully engulfed in flames. It was surrounded by flood waters and it was impossible for fire fighters to reach it.

We visited New Orleans in 2006, 8 months after Katrina. We went out to SYC and they were back in business, but they were operating out of trailers. There were still boats under water at the destroyed docks, including a sailboat that Bob had raced on in the late ‘70s. Most of their trophies and memorabilia had been lost. We took a burgee from our SYC (Seattle Yacht Club) to help them rebuild their collection. When we visited the new building on Tuesday, they had a fine collection of burgees displayed in the bar, including one from the Seattle Yacht Club. Perhaps it is the one we gave them.

 

Some of the burgees in the bar at the Southern Yacht Club, including one from the Seattle Yacht Club

Burgees at SYC

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After touring the yacht club we headed out to the airport for our flight home. It was a fabulous 8-day vacation in Louisiana. Amazingly, we visited for 8 days without ever going to the French Quarter. That was a first! The best part of this trip was seeing our Louisiana family and friends. We can’t let another 11 years go by before we see them again.

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Slow Cooker Creamy Lentil Soup

April 13, 2018

By Kath Dedon

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After returning from a ski trip to Whistler, we invited the out-of-town ski friends who were in Seattle on Tuesday night for a soup dinner at our house. I decided to make Instant Pot Chicken Soup, so I borrowed Laura and Byron’s Instant Pot so I could make 2 pots of soup. Our guests included 6 good friends from New York and Michigan. I knew that some local friends and Laura and Byron were coming, but I didn’t really know for sure how many to expect. I wanted to have plenty of soup.

I learned that another friend from Maine was in town and there was a possibility that she would be joining us. Mary Kate is a vegetarian so I made this Slow Cooker Creamy Lentil Soup to have available for her and anyone else who might show up and prefer a vegetarian option. We had plenty of soup! (As it turned out, Mary Kate couldn’t make it. We did get to see her the next night at Carrie and Rhett’s house.)

I ate the Slow Cooker Creamy Lentil Soup, and a few other people tried it as well. It was really a great lentil soup! It’s vegan and gluten free. It gets its “creamy” texture from a can of drained chickpeas blended with water and a bit of olive oil and lemon juice.

The recipe is from Cooking Light’s web site. Their recipe called for “green lentils”. Apparently, there are lentils known as “French green lentils” that look very similar to the common “regular” brown lentils sold at most grocery stores. I used French “lentilles du Puy because I had just enough in my cupboard. They are darker than green or brown lentils. I like the way they hold their shape even after slow cooking for hours.

Slow Cooker Creamy Lentil Soup is a vegan soup that can be enjoyed by all. I don’t think anyone will miss the meat whenever I serve it. It’s a keeper that I’m glad to add to my repertoire.

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Slow Cooker Creamy Lentil Soup

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Slow Cooker Creamy Lentil Soup

(Adapted from a Cooking Light recipe)

 

(print the recipe)

 

My Vitamix worked really well when I blended the chickpeas. If you don’t have a powerful blender but do have a food processor, I’m sure you could use that. It probably won’t be quite as creamy, but it will still work and taste delicious.

 

Serves 5 (about 1½ cups each)

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A bit of oil for the slow cooker

4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth (I actually used 2 teaspoons of Better Than Bouillon Vegan Certified No Chicken Base and 4 cups of water.)

1 cup uncooked green lentils  (I used French “lentilles du Puy)

1 cup chopped yellow onion

¾ cup chopped carrots

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt (or ½ – ¾ teaspoon table salt)

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

5 thyme sprigs

4 garlic cloves, minced

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1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

¾ cup water

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

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2 cups thinly sliced lacinato kale

½ teaspoon sherry or red wine vinegar

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  1. Put a small amount of oil in the slow cooker and rub it around the interior with a paper towel.
  2. Put the broth, lentils, onion, carrots, cumin, salt, pepper, thyme, and garlic in the slow cooker. Cook on Low for 7 hours.
  3. Put the chickpeas, water, olive oil, and lemon juice in a blender and blend until it is smooth.
  4. Add the chickpea mixture and the kale to the slow cooker. Cook on Low for 30 additional minutes.
  5. Stir in the vinegar and serve.

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Slow Cooker Creamy Lentil Soup - Copy

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Fennel, Pear, Celery, and Hazelnut Salad

March 17, 2018

By Kath Dedon

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About 3 weeks ago I had a great dinner with Laura and Byron while Bob was away on a ski trip. Byron’s beef roast was amazing! He had seasoned the roast and then put it in a sous vide bath. He then refrigerated it before finishing it in the oven. Really, really good!

Laura made a salad that I just loved! It was the Fennel, Pear, Celery, and Hazelnut Salad from Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant & Unfussy New Favorites. I have the book and made a mental note to make the salad soon.

I was amused that Deb wrote that her family calls it the “Haters’ Salad”. She explained that many people have strong feelings about fennel, celery, and even pears. She made the salad anyway because she loves all of them.

Bob hates fruit in salads. So I was sure that he wouldn’t like it, but I loved it so much I made it anyway. It turns out he liked it! When I was surprised that he liked it so much, he said that his serving had only had one slice of pear. 😉

All of the ingredients in this salad just work very well together. There’s the crunch of the fennel and celery, the tender sweet slices of pear, the tasty toasted hazelnuts and the salty Pecorino Romano. The lemon juice and olive oil dressing is perfect. The salad holds up pretty well, so it can be made a bit ahead of time. I enjoyed leftover salad for breakfast the next day!

I whole-heartedly recommend Deb’s latest cookbook, Smitten Kitchen Every Day. I’m looking forward to trying many more recipes in it. And do give this Fennel, Pear, Celery, and Hazelnut Salad a try.

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Fennel, Pear, Celery, and Hazelnut Salad

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Fennel, Pear, Celery, and Hazelnut Salad

(Adapted from Deb Perelman’s recipe in Smitten Kitchen Every Day)

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(print the recipe)

 

Serves 3 – 4

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1 medium (about 1 pound) fennel bulb, thinly sliced, with some fronds saved for garnish

2 large celery stalks

¾ medium pear (red D’Anjou is especially pretty), halved, cored, and thinly sliced

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

½ cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned, and cooled

½-ounce piece of Pecorino Romano cheese, shaved (That’s what I had and used. You could use Parmesan as Deb did.)

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  1. Toss the fennel, celery and pear together in a bowl.
  2. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, and a generous amount of salt and pepper and toss.
  3. Add the hazelnuts and cheese; toss and serve garnished with the fennel fronds.

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Fennel, Pear, Celery, & Hazelnut Salad

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Easy Taco Pie

March 15, 2018

By Kath Dedon

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Yesterday was Pi Day (3.14). Do you make a pie for Pi Day? I have often made a pie to celebrate the day. Yesterday, though, I didn’t feel like making a dessert pie. So I made Easy Taco Pie for dinner!

I’ve made this Easy Taco Pie twice now, and we love it! The recipe is in Carolyn Ketchum’s excellent cookbook, The Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen. It’s a recipe that she also published on her blog, alldayidreamaboutfood.com, in 2014. It’s so good; it definitely deserves all of the coverage. It’s a great example of the easy family-friendly recipes that Carolyn shares on her blog and in her first book. (If you’re in the market for a new low-carb cookbook, don’t hesitate to buy The Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen. Most of the recipes are brand-new and have not been published on her blog.)

I almost pulled out my 6-inch pie plate to make half of the recipe, but I’m glad I didn’t. The leftovers reheat beautifully.

Easy Taco Pie turned out to be a great way to celebrate Pi Day!

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I topped mine with a bit of sour cream and chopped tomatoes and avocado.

Easy Taco Pie with Sour Cream, tomato, and avocado

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Easy Taco Pie

(Adapted from Carolyn Ketchum’s recipe on her blog, alldayidreamaboutfood.com, and in The Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen)

 

(print the recipe)

 

Serves 6 – 8

 

1 tablespoon butter or oil to grease the pie plate

1 pound ground beef

3 tablespoons taco seasoning

6 large eggs

1 cup heavy cream

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground pepper

1 cup (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese (I used Tillamook Sharp Cheddar.)

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and butter or oil a pie plate. (I used my larger Pyrex 9½-inch pie plate.)
  2. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until it is done.

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Ground beef

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3. Stir in the taco seasoning and cook a minute or two.

4. Put the beef in the prepared pie plate.

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Beef in pie plate.jpg

 

5..Whisk the eggs.

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Whisked eggs

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6. Add the cream, garlic, salt, and pepper to the eggs and whisk again.

7. Pour the egg/cream mixture over the ground beef.

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Eggs and cream added

 

8. Spread the cheese over the top.

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Sharp cheddar added

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9. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the center is set.

10. Let the pie sit for 5 minutes before cutting it into servings.

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Easy Taco Pie

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11. Serve, garnished with your favorite taco toppings.

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Easy Taco Pie with Sour Cream, tomato, and avocado - Copy

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Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Taco Meat

March 14, 2018

By Kath Dedon

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We really enjoyed Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Taco Meat last Sunday. It’s a great recipe to make when you’re home for the day. The recipe, from Elise Bauer on her Simply Recipes blog, recommends cooking the chicken thighs on high for 3 hours or on low for 6 hours. It’s not the best recipe to leave for 8 – 10 hours while you’re at work. I find chicken does better with shorter cook times.

The “secret” ingredient is a 6-ounce can of pineapple juice. Elise says the juice adds a very subtle sweetness and makes the chicken extra-tender and easy to shred. You won’t taste the pineapple.

The recipe is super-easy. It took about 10 minutes to do the prep work. I started the slow cooker at noon and the chicken was ready to shred at 6:00. I used my new Cave Tools Metal Meat Claws to shred the meat right in the slow cooker. They made it incredibly easy! I can’t wait to try them out the next time I have a big family-size pork roast to shred!

Elise recommends making tacos garnished with shredded cabbage, radish slices, avocado and cilantro. Click here to see to see her beautiful photo of the finished tacos.

I decided to make taco salads instead. I just put a handful of shredded cabbage on each plate and topped it with some of the shredded chicken. Radishes, diced avocado and cilantro were the perfect garnishes. It was the perfect dinner on a beautiful, sunny and warm spring day!

Next time you have a day at home and want an easy meal for dinner, consider this Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Taco Meat. Your house will smell terrific all afternoon and when it’s time to eat it will be simple to put together tacos or salads.

 

Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Taco Meat

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Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Taco Meat

(Adapted from Elise Bauer’s recipe on Simply Recipes)

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(print the recipe)

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Serves 6 – 8

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Spice rub:

2 Tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1½ teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled in your hands

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon allspice

¼ teaspoon cayenne

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2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (do not remove excess fat)

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Sauce:

6 ounces (3/4 cup) pineapple juice

2 Tablespoons tomato paste

1 heaping teaspoon chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (optional – I added it because I had some leftover in the refrigerator.)

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For serving:

Shredded cabbage

Sliced radishes

Diced avocado

Cilantro

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  1. Whisk the spice rub ingredients together in a large bowl.

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Spices

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Whisked spices

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2. Add the chicken thighs to the bowl and cover them on all sides with the rub.

3. Put the chicken thighs in the slow cooker and add the rest of the rub in the bowl to the slow cooker.

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Chicken thighs in slow cooker

 

4. Stir the tomato paste (and chipotle chile, if using) into the pineapple juice. Pour the sauce over the chicken.

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Pineapple juice, tomato paste, and chipotle chile stirred together

Sauce

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Sauce added

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5. Cook on low for 6 hours (or on high for 3 hours).

6. Shred the chicken right in the slow cooker with meat shredders or a couple of forks.

7. Serve over shredded cabbage, garnished with radishes, avocado, and cilantro.

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I’m really glad I bought these amazing meat shredders!

Cave Tools Metal Meat Claws

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Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Taco Meat - Copy

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Instant Pot Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

March 10, 2018

By Kath Dedon

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Instant Pot Chicken and Wild Rice Soup is not exactly “instant”, but it’s super easy and really good. The gluten-free, dairy-free recipe is from Ashley Singh Thomas’ blog, myheartbeets.com.

Ashley cooks a small potato with the soup and then blends it with ½ cup of coconut milk to make a creamy base to blend into the finished soup. I decided to skip the potato and stir a can of coconut milk into the soup. It turned out great! Do hop over to Ashley’s blog to see how she uses the potato if you’d like to try her version. (And to see her photos which are much superior to mine!)

Start to finish, it took about one hour and 45 or 50 minutes to make the soup. But only 30 minutes of that time was “hands on”. The time breaks down like this: 30 minutes prep time (chopping, slicing, mincing, measuring), 19 minutes to get up to pressure, 30 minutes cooking at pressure, and 30 minutes Natural Pressure Release (NPR). Once you seal the pot and start the pot, the Instant Pot does all the work.

We enjoyed the Instant Pot Chicken and Wild Rice Soup so much that I’m sure I’ll be making it again. It’s a perfect soup for warming up on a cold night. And all that “hands off” time gives you a chance to make a salad, or maybe even biscuits or cornbread to go with it. Or you could just enjoy a glass of wine and a good book while your Instant Pot cooks your soup.

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IP Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

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Instant Pot Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

(Adapted from Ashley Singh Thomas’ recipe on myheartbeets.com)

 

(print the recipe)

 

Makes 4 – 5 servings

 

1½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces

½ large onion, diced

1 cup chopped carrots (2-3 medium)

1 cup chopped celery (2 large stalks)

1 (8-ounce) package sliced mushrooms

2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 large cloves)

1 Serrano pepper, minced (I did not take the seeds out and it was not too hot.)

3 teaspoons fresh thyme plus extra sprigs for garnish (The garnish is optional.)

2 teaspoons minced fresh sage

2 teaspoons salt (I used sea salt)

½ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 cup uncooked wild rice

4 cups chicken broth (I used Swanson chicken stock.)

 

Add later:

1 (13.66-ounce) can coconut milk (not lite)

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  1. Rinse the wild rice in a fine-mesh strainer and drain.
  2. Put all of the ingredients except the coconut milk in the Instant Pot.

 

.ready to add the chicken broth and seal the pot

Ingredients

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3. Seal the pot, setting the Pressure Release to Sealing.

4. Select Manual, High Pressure, for 30 minutes.

5. When the 30 minutes of cooking are done, do nothing and just let the pressure release naturally. It will take about 30 minutes for the pressure to release and the valve to drop back down.

6. Once the pressure has released, open the pot, and stir in the coconut milk. Garnish with thyme sprigs, if using, and serve.

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Instant Pot Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

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IP Chicken and Wild Rice Soup - Copy

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Better-Than-Mounds Chocolate Coconut Candies

March 4, 2018

By Kath Dedon

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With only 5 ingredients you can make these delicious sugar-free Better-Than-Mounds Chocolate Coconut Candies!

The recipe is from Carolyn Ketchum’s excellent blog, All Day I Dream About Food. And let me tell you, she does dream up some wonderful recipes for people who are watching their carbs. (I like her blog so much that I bought her book, The Everyday Ketogenic Cookbook, which I love!)

To accommodate food preferences and sensitivities in our family, I am constantly on the lookout for tasty treats that are low carb, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and almond-free. These Better-Than-Mounds Chocolate Coconut Candies fit the bill perfectly!

I had never used coconut butter before. It remains solid at room temperature. The contents of the jar I purchased had separated. Because it was hard, it wasn’t possible to just stir it back together like you would with peanut butter. I microwaved it on Reheat (80%) for 30 seconds and then stirred it a bit. I repeated this process 2 or 3 times more until I could easily blend the coconut butter together. Problem solved!

Carolyn’s recipe makes 20 candies, but I found I could make 24. I served them at a gathering of friends and family a couple of nights ago and had just 2 left for photos. I’m sure I’ll be making Better-Than-Mounds Chocolate Coconut Candies again. They would make a great Easter treat!

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Two candies left

 

Better-Than-Mounds Chocolate Coconut Candies

(Adapted from Carolyn Ketchum’s recipe on alldayidreamaboutfood.com)

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(print the recipe)

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Notes:

Carolyn recommends, and I used, parchment mini cupcake liners. They are truly non-stick.

If you can’t find Lily’s chocolate bars, go to Carolyn’s recipe to see how you can make the chocolate topping.

If you have Swerve granulated sugar, just give it a spin in a mini food processor or blender to make it “powdered”.

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Makes about 24 candies

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Just 5 ingredients needed

Ingredients

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Coconut Candies

½ cup coconut butter

½ cup coconut oil

½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

3 tbsp. Swerve Confectioners Sweetener

 

Chocolate Topping

1 (2.8 – 3 oz.) sugar-free dark chocolate, like Lily’s

 

  1. Line 2 mini muffin pans with paper liners. (Parchment liners are recommended.)
  2. Melt the coconut butter and coconut oil in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until blended together. Remove from heat and stir in the coconut and the sweetener.
  3. Spoon about a tablespoon of the coconut mixture into each muffin cup. Freeze for 30 minutes.
  4. For the chocolate topping, break the chocolate bar into a Pyrex measuring cup. Microwave on Reheat (80%) for 15 – 20 seconds. Stir and repeat until it is melted.
  5. Spoon a bit of chocolate topping over each candy. There’s no need to refrigerate the candies. They will keep at room temperature for up to a week.

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Better-Than-Mounds Chocolate Coconut Candies

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Low Carb Chocolate Coconut Candies - Copy

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