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Spicy Tomatoes and Okra

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Okay. I’m sorry that this is totally a crappy picture. I was too hungry to worry about trying to get anything decent. I promise you the picture doesn’t do this side dish justice. 

My inspiration was seafood gumbo and some frozen okra we had. I was trying to think of something to do with it, besides boiling which is a little plain, and frying, which is pretty unhealthy. 

This was a delicious side dish for the tasty salmon Justin cooked for dinner tonight.The two went together nicely, and I ended up mixing them and eating it as one dish. 

What you need:

  • Bag of frozen okra
  • Can of diced tomatoes
  • Onion, chopped
  • Bell pepper, chopped
  • Cajun seasoning (or you can make your own. I found a recipe here)
  • 1-2 chicken bouillon cubes (optional)

Pour the tomatoes, undrained, in a saucepan. Add your chopped onion and pepper and bring it to a soft boil. 

Once it’s simmering, add the okra and season it to your own taste. I used a pretty generous amount here. But as always, I did a lot of taste testing to make sure it was good. 

Let it simmer for 15-20 minutes until your vegetables are all tender. 

If it needs some extra flavor, add a bouillon cube or two. 

 

Super easy. Super flavorful. This makes a great side dish to any dinner. 

 

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

No Bake Strawberries and Cream Bar (topped with chocolate)

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This is a pretty unusual thing for me to make. I don’t do a lot of desserts. The hubby doesn’t eat many, therefore leaving me to consume an entire cake, or batch of brownies, or some other ridiculously large amount of dessert. I also have learned over the years, that baking is not really my thing. I guess that’s where this idea came in, since you don’t have to bake it. Originally I planned to do a layer of chocolate, but that didn’t turn out because I didn’t grease the dish, and it stuck to the bottom pretty bad. (See, desserts are NOT my thing.) Anyways, I had to improvise. Lucky for me, we had some Hershey bars laying around.

(Have I mentioned my husband works for The Hershey Company? We are all about some Hershey products in our house.)

The chocolate on top turned out pretty tasty, although it probably would have been better if I had some chocolate chips. I could have mixed them right in with the strawberries and cream layer, or sprinkled them right on top. Lesson learned.

What you need:

  • 1/2 lb fresh strawberries, pureed
  • 4 oz softened cream cheese
  • Tub of cool whip
  • Sugar (optional for sweetening strawberries)
  • Crumbled chocolate bare/chocolate chips

Puree the strawberries using a blender or food processor. You may want to add some sugar to them, depending on how sweet the strawberries are. I added about 1/4 cup probably. I didn’t exactly measure, just poured and tasted until it tasted right to me. 

Combine the puree, cream cheese, and about half the tub of whipped cream. Using an electric mixer, mix thoroughly. I did a lot of taste testing here too. I added and mixed ingredients until it tasted good to me, not overly sweet since I intended to add chocolate to it. 

Spread the strawberry cream mixture into a dish that will fit in your freezer. 

Spread a layer of cool whip on top of the strawberry cream layer. 

Let it freeze for a couple hours. Once it’s frozen/hardened, top with chocolate of your choice and enjoy.

And yes, I will most likely be eating this entire dessert by myself. Sad, I know. Justin has no idea what he is missing out on. 

 

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

The Best Crockpot Chili – EVER

 

Okay, so maybe this isn’t the best chili EVER, but it’s the best chili I have ever made. It is the perfect combination of sweet and spicy. Plus it’s made with a beef rump roast rather than ground beef. The beef is so tender and full of flavor, and basically shreds itself if you leave it in the crockpot long enough. We had to break the whole low carbs thing tonight, because this chili is best served on a tortilla. It’s also really good on potatoes, and is pretty darn good by itself too though.

Now, I have to confess, that I did pull the chili out of the crockpot for the last little bit of the cooking process, to help boil down some of the liquid. If you don’t want extra dishes to clean, I’m sure you could just skim the extra liquid off the top though.

What you need:

  • 2-3 lb rump roast
  • Can of tomato sauce
  • Can of diced tomatoes
  • Can of beef broth (lower sodium)
  • Can of chicken broth (lower sodium)
  • 1-2 onions
  • Chili powder
  • Brown sugar
For the chili seasoning
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  • 4 tbs chili powder
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbs onion powder
  • 2 tbs garlic powder
  • 1 tbs white pepper
  • 1 tbs of cumin
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground oregano
  • 1 tsp basil

(These measurements are just estimations of a baseline. I usually start with something similar to this, and taste test the chili from there. That way you know for sure it is seasoned to your taste.)
Chop the onions coarsely and place them in the crockpot. Pour equal parts chicken and beef broth over top of the onions. You don’t need much, just enough to coat the onions.
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Cut the bottom layer of fat off the beef and cut into 2-3 inch pieces. Put it in the crockpot and sprinkle with a little bit of chili powder and brown sugar. Pour the can of tomato sauce over the beef and onions, turn your crock pot on high and walk away.
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I cooked mine for about 6-7 hours, but I am pretty sure that the meat was tender and ready to shred long before that. I was just busy, and didn’t have time to get to it prior to that.
Once the meat is cooked, pour the contents of the crockpot into a sauce pot and bring it to a boil. This will help reduce down some of the liquid. Mine had waaaay more than it needed.
If your beef hasn’t already shredded on it’s own here, you should be able to shred it very easily. I literally just stirred it with a spoon, and it all broke apart.
Once the chili is boiling, make your spice mix and add it to the pot.
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Add the can of diced tomatoes and let it simmer until it is the consistency that you want it. This is where you might want to start tasting it and see if you want to add anything more to it. I usually do.
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Once you reach your desired consistency, your chili is ready to serve and eat. Like I mentioned above, this is so so so good on tortillas with a little bit of cheese. This was the first time I ever made this in the crockpot, and I was so nervous about it. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I was REALLY pleased with the way it turned out. I hope everyone enjoys it as much as we did.
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Posted by on July 13, 2012 in Beef

 

Sweet and Spicy BBQ Zucchini Chips

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A couple weeks ago, I saw a recipe on Pinterest for baked zucchini chips, and WOW, these were amazing. They were a perfect replacement for potato chips when you’re craving a salty snack, and of course, way lower in calories. I think I have made these at least five times since I found it. Ten million thanks to the blogger who posted this recipe. You can find it here. You are a hero in the Herron household.

I have been experimenting with different ways to flavor these and have found my favorite. We love spicy BBQ chips in this house. We can pretty easily down an entire bag in one or two sittings. So that was my inspiration for this. I think they turned out really good, but it could easily be changed to appeal to different tastes. I’m sure if you google “zucchini chips”, you could find thousands of different ideas.

So, after making and enjoying these zucchini chips many many times, my BRILLIANT husband had the genius idea of trying them in the dehydrator. He just made beef jerky a couple weeks ago, so I guess he had dehydrating on the mind. If you’re not an appliance junkie (like my husband), this can easily be done in the oven. I will tell how it’s done, or you can click on the link above.

What you need

  • Zucchini
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Brown sugar
  • Season salt 
Slice your zucchini as thin as you can possibly get it. This is a lot easier if you use a mandolin. It helps keep the slices a uniform size, therefore allowing them to cook consistently. It also makes the process considerably faster.
I am pretty sure my mandolin cost about $15 at Walmart, so it was no significant investment, but most definitely a worthy one.
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See? Nice thin, even slices. It would have taken me forever to cut them like that on my own.
Next lay the zucchini slices in the dehydrator and season them with the spices listed above, or those of your choice. Make sure you go light on the spices, especially the cayenne. The zucchini really shrinks up a lot once it dries out, and will get very concentrated. If you put too much cayenne, you will be drinking a lot of milk along with your chips.
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Turn your dehydrator on to 135 degrees and walk away.
I only did two layers, which was 2 zucchini worth when I made it this time. It took 2.5-3 hours. I started checking it after the first hour or so because I really wasn’t too sure how long it would take.
You will know it’s done when it looks like the picture below. The zucchini slices will be nice and crisp, just like a real chip. There’s no harm in taste testing along the way too. They still taste pretty good, even when they’re not done yet.
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This was slightly easier, and tasted slightly better than cooking them in the oven. The best part was, I didn’t have to have my oven on for almost 2 hours when it is 100+ degrees outside. They came out a little bit crisper than they do when I make them in the oven. It’s also nice to use the dehydrator because you can make more at a time. I can only ever seem to fit one zucchini worth of chips in my oven.
If you want to use your oven, it’s pretty much the same steps….
Preheat the oven to 225
Slice, coat with cooking spray, and season.
Bake for 45 minutes, flip, and bake for another 30 minutes or so.
In the oven, I found the closer the chips are to the bottom, the better they turn out.
I did not use cooking spray on half of the dehydrated zucchini and both halves turned out exactly the same. I had no issues with sticking, so I don’t think it’s necessary if you are taking that route.
And yeah, I ate two zucchini worth by myself in one sitting. Don’t judge, they were delicious. Just make sure you make a lot.
 
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Posted by on July 11, 2012 in Side Dishes

 
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Apparently the other day, Justin and I were both craving Italian. I sent him to the store to get dinner. I was thinking that I wanted spaghetti or lasagna, or something like that, but left him in charge. He came home with tomato sauce, squash, zucchini, and ground turkey (to make meatballs). I guess we were on the same page. (Already, and we have only been married 3 years!)

Anyways, I made meatballs, and they didn’t turn out very good. They were a little bit dry and bland. Since we had enough ingredients to do everything for a second night, I figured I would try again. Round two was so much better than round one.

I don’t really know that these are that different than any other meatball recipe you can find out there, but here it is anyway.

What you need:

  • 1 lb of ground turkey
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup of seasoned bread crumbs
  • A splash of tomato sauce
  • Oregano, basil, fennel, and parsly to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons of minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions

Preheat your oven to 375
Combine all ingredients and mix.
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As far as the seasonings go, I put A LOT. More than you would think appropriate. And the tomato sauce helped with the dryness from the previous night. I would have also loved to add some red wine (cooking or regular), but for some reason I didn’t have any. Next time, I guess.
Shape your mixture into meatballs (not too big, or they will take forever to cook).
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Cook for 25 minutes
Mine looked like this when they came out
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All that parmesan cheese was oozing out of them. SO yummy!
I served this with our veggie meaty marinara, just replaced the ground beef with meatballs instead. It was a fun different spin on something we already know and love.
 
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Posted by on July 10, 2012 in Turkey

 

Tomato and Pesto Chicken Veggie Bake

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It has been a LONG time since I have blogged anything. We have been on vacation and eating terrible. Now we’re back at home, a couple pounds heavier, and back to our own kitchen. It sucks, I know, but that’s life.

Tonight’s dinner started with the idea of making baked pesto chicken and expanded from there. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to make to go along with the chicken, so I tried to think of some vegetables that would go good with pesto. I originally planned to add zucchini to this too, but once I was making everything, I chickened out. I thought it might taste a little odd, so I opted to keep it out. Luckily, that means I have some extra zucchini laying around. I guess have to think of something fun to do with that.

I didn’t take any pictures while making this today. It was pretty quick and easy though. No lengthy descriptions needed.

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup of pesto sauce
  • Can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 medium red bell peppers
  • 1 cup of mushrooms
  • 1-2 lbs of chicken breast
  • Salt, pepper, and oregano to taste

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Cut the chicken into 1-2 inch pieces.
Chop the bell pepper and mushrooms.
Combine all the ingredients (pesto, canned tomatoes, mushrooms, bell pepper, chicken, salt, pepper, and oregano) in a baking dish and mix thoroughly.
Cover and cook for 50 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and the veggies are tender.
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I was afraid of this being dry, but it definitely was not. We will most likely be making this again soon, because we really enjoyed it.
Also, I am sure this would be really tasty if you added mozzarella or parmesan cheese to it, but I didn’t because I was trying to keep the calories down. Next time though…. Maybe
 
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Posted by on July 9, 2012 in Casseroles, Chicken

 

SUCCESSFUL Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Recipes for low carb cauliflower pizza crusts have been blowing up pinterest lately. When I first saw this, I was SO excited about it. I LOVE pizza, however I DON’T love the carbs in it. So we tried it, a few times, and it never exactly turned out right It always tasted great, but it stuck to the pan really bad. So after some trial and error and A LOT of research, my amazingly smart husband finally got it right. And this pizza turned out amazing. It tasted like a homemade thin crust pizza, only better. It was so delicious, we are having the same thing again tomorrow night.

So, if you made this and experienced that same problems we did, or if it’s your first attempt, I hope this can shed some light on how to make a delicious, healthier, low carb pizza.

What you need:

  • 2 cups uncooked frozen califlower (you can use fresh, but frozen was much easier and tasted just the same)
  • 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese (I used fat free)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of basil
  • 1/2 garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of fennel 
  • Pizza toppings of your choice (including cheese, the cheese listed above goes into the dough)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees

Put the cauliflower in a microwavable bowl and microwave for 10 minutes (8 minutes if cauliflower is thawed).
Put the cauliflower in the food processor and pulse until it is the consistency of rice. Make sure you do not over pulse it here. If it’s too shredded, the dough can be more difficult to spread. It should look like this….

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Once the cauliflower is “riced”, wrap it in a paper towel for a couple minutes. This will help pull some of the moisture out of it, and make it cook a little nicer.

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Combine the cauliflower in a bowl with the cheese, egg, and spices listed above. Mix thoroughly until the cheese is melted.

Spread a piece of parchment paper on a pizza pan and really coat it with some cooking spray. We learned the hard way that these are probably the most important steps. You CANNOT use aluminum foil or wax paper. It will stick… BAD… and you will lose a lot of that tasty deliciousness.

To spread your dough on the pizza pan, start on the outside with “blobs” of the dough mixture working your way in. Make the dough as thin as you can physically get it. It should be almost translucent.

This makes a very thin crust pizza. About as thin as a potato chip. So if you’re a fan of the deep dish, I’m sorry this is not for you.

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If you have extra of the dough mixture, don’t worry about it, and don’t try to use it all. We had a little bit of leftover too, and made some extra little mini pizzas out of it. They were also delicious.

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Bake your dough at 450 for 15-20 minutes. You will know it’s ready to come out of the oven when it looks very crisp and just on the verge of burning. You should be able to lift the edge of the pizza with a spatula. It may take slightly longer than 20 minutes depending on your oven and how thin the crust is. If you pull it out too soon, the pizza will be pretty messy and hard to eat like a normal pizza.

Once you pull the cooked crust out of the oven, turn your oven to Broil.

Last but not least, add your sauce, cheese and toppings to the pizza. Place under the broiler for 2-4 minutes, or until your cheese is melted. Make sure to go light on the sauce here, because it may soften up your crust.

Cut your pizza up, and enjoy. Hopefully your pizza will turn out as ours did.
 
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Posted by on June 24, 2012 in Uncategorized