I look forward to sharing wonderful meals with everybody in 2018. If you have any suggestions for improving this website, I would love to hear from you!
I lost my mom to cancer in the fall of 2015, had my first baby in the spring of 2016, built a small garage apartment for our family’s living arrangements until we can build our dream house, fired 6 contractors, finished building my temporary home myself while 8 months pregnant, had my second baby in the spring of 2017, and have just been struggling to catch up with life for the remainder of the year. Hoping 2018 brings about a lot of positive changes, including the ability to get the remainder of the down payment needed to begin construction on my forever home.
In learning to adjust to my new normal, I have struggled with adapting to a TINY kitchen, a ninja toddler, a second baby, my husband’s new job that takes him away from us 50% of the time, and life in general has just kicked my ass.
Since November, I have finally found a happy balance and have started cooking real food again. I’ve got a legitimate work from home job to supplement our income to help make our dream home a reality that much sooner.
My goal for 2018 is to give you, my awesome readers, at least 4 new recipes a month, posts filled with helpful kitchen tips and advice, and some product reviews as I slowly upgrade and replace much of my 10 year old kitchen utensils.
Best wishes to all for 2018!
It has been a very rough year. Moving states, incompetent contractors who don’t understand the concept of using multiple nails to hold walls together, and my mother being diagnosed with stage 4 bladder cancer and her numerous radical surgeries, appointments, and procedures that have followed. Now I am in the position as an only child to do all I can to help her out.
In the midst of all that insanity, somebody threw out a cute little black lab-like puppy that my husband JUST HAD TO HAVE. Let me tell you. That PUPPY is not a puppy. It is a 1 year old, full grown dog with more energy than the Energizer Bunny. The vet said she is a boxer-lab mix. But somebody small and ridiculously hyper has sneaked its way into the mix. And let’s not mention that the dog thinks my precious kitty cats are play toys for her.
In case that hasn’t been enough of a whirlwind, I am currently 13 weeks pregnant with my first child.
I really hope that I can get back to regularly experimenting in the kitchen and posting all my delicious discoveries with you!
Being the awesome person that I am, I decided to make him catfish tonight. To try to find a recipe where it actually tastes good, I asked the wonderful people on Cast Iron Cooking for suggestions.
Catfish Court-Bouillon was mentioned several times, so I gave it and decided to make it tonight for dinner.
For a hater of catfish, this dish was actually really good. I think it would be better with the addition of other types of seafood as well, especially some shrimp. While I didn’t include them in the recipe, tossing in a few cleaned shrimp would be a good addition to this recipe as well.
Creole Catfish Court-Bouillon
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 tbsp. minced garlic
8 oz. tomato sauce
1/2 cup dry red wine
5 cup fish stock or water
2 cup diced tomatoes (or 1 can)
1 tbsp. sguar
1 tbsp. salt
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
4 tsp. cajun seasoning
black pepper to taste
4 cat fish fillets, cleaned
In a large Dutch oven over medium, stir together butter and flour, cooking until browned and resembling melted milk chocolate.
Add in remaining ingredients, except catfish. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Add catfish. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until catfish is cooked.
Serve over rice.
Tea is a staple in my world. I drink anywhere from 2 to 5 cups a day. I never gave it a second thought until reading an article on 100 Days of Real Food. Which lead me to Food Babe. Which lead me to an article on The Atlantic. Which sent me off to do some real research.
Arguments can be made that 100 Days of Real Food and Food Babe simply read as promotional for certain types of tea. One thing lacking is real sources being sited for their articles. So I did a lot of research. Most of it through Google Scholar (links to REAL scientific studies).
Here is what it boils down to…
Teas are touted around the world as being good for you. You read countless articles about how tea is rich in anti-oxidants and may contain cancer-fighting properties. Tea can provide a magnitude of benefits….stress relief, a pick-me-up for an energy boost, calming to help you sleep. But what is really in your cup?
You can search online and find countless studies about what is really in the tea we drink. It is all fairly simple though.
The Tea Bag
I’ve found that most tea bags contain things I have no interest in putting in boiling water. (I am in no way saying that these are safe/unsafe, just that I personally will avoid using them.)
Many tea bags contain epichlorohydrin. The EPA states “Epichlorhydrin is used for making glycerine and as a monomer/building block for making plastics and other polymers, some of which are used as coagulant aids in water treatment. It is also used in the paper and drug industries as an insect fumigant.” The CDC lists it as a “potential carcinogen” as well as “reproductive effects” and that it targets the “eyes, skin, respiratory system, kidneys, liver, reproductive system.” Read more about the uses of epichlorohydrin.
Most brands use what I call a “traditional tea bag.” These bags made from wood, that sounds safe enough, right? Unfortunately, it is highly processed and bleached, then chemically treated to neutralize the bleach.
Another popular tea bag, marketed towards the health/eco conscience is listed as “corn-based” or “biodegradable.” A better alternative to chemical laced, plastic, or bleached; however I am anti-GMO, so these bags are a no-go for me as well.
The final type of tea bag that is common among popular US brands of tea is the mesh pyramid, that brags about the design being ideal for steeping the best cup of tea. I am not going to argue the shape of the tea bag being ideal. I am however going to argue that these “mesh teabags” are made of plastic material.
Like most produce, tea is treated with a vast majority of pesticides to prevent bugs from ruining the crops. Unlike the produce you buy, you cannot wash your tea after purchasing it at the store.
Here is an article about Celestial Seasonings Tea. The study found that 91% VIOLATED US standards for pesticides. The FDA already allows a certain percentage of pesticides, insects/pests, and other less-than-desirable things to slip into our food supply. So not only are their teas full of legally allowed pesticides, they have gone and exceeded that limit. They’ve also had two prior warnings from the FDA. For me this brand is a definite to avoid.
Natural Flavors-sounds good right? WRONG. This is one of those tricky things that makes something sound better than it is. Natural Flavors imply anything in natural that can be broken down to taste like what you want. That means the flavor could come from a rock that has been chemically treated. If you have to add “natural flavoring” to something and can’t come out and list what it is, you probably want to avoid it.
Artificial Flavors-artificial…enough said.
Soy Lecithin-soy based products. It mostly comes from soy bean oil that is chemically extracted. Again, not something I want in my tea.
What to Look For
Tea Bags: organic bag, non-GMO
Tea: organic, non-GMO
My personal recommendation is to buy a good quality stainless steel tea infuser and buy any brand of organic tea. If you buy tea already in a tea bag, just cut it open and pour the contents of the teabag into the tea ball and steep your tea that way. I prefer a mesh tea infuser just because it helps keep even the finest pieces of tea secure. Or if you’re a Keurig lover, just use a mesh reusable filter.
Numi Teas-with prices varying from 27¢ to 89¢ per tea bag, it can become costly if you are an avid tea drinker. However Numi Teas are organic and have a non-GMO, organic tea bag.
Traditional Medicinals Tea– a more cost effiecent brand, averaging between 20¢ and 30¢ per tea bag. However there is a limited variety of flavors to choose from. I have found that Traditional Medicinals tends to brew a very flavorful, almost exceedingly strong cup of tea for my taste.
Rishi Tea – another quality brand, with greatly varying prices based on what type of tea you buy. However Rishi Tea is loose leaf tea, so a tea infuser is required. Or if you prefer, they also manufacture their own tea bags that you can fill yourself.
I have never been one to participate in the “thankful posts” on Facebook because I am thankful for the things in my life every day, but today I am thankful for all my readers and hoping that you are all able to spend the day with those you love and hold dear! I am enjoying the first Thanksgiving in several years that I have the opportunity to travel to see my family.
While I will be busy helping my mom in the kitchen to prepare the traditional foods, here are a few great recipes you’ll want to check out!
Cranberry Apple Crisp – A delicious Thanksgiving breakfast or a light dessert.
Crepes with Cranberry Apple Compote – Another great idea for a Thanksgiving Breakfast.
See what people across the USA are cooking up for Thanksgiving – Traditional foods from every state.
Make a cornucopia for your Thanksgiving table.
Cajun Shrimp & Quinoa Bake
2 cups cooked quinoa (about 1 cup uncooked)
2-3 large tomatoes, diced (you could sub. 1 can diced with juice)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 lb shrimp, peeled & deveined
3 tsp. cajun seasoning
1 tsp. olive oil
1/4 cup Monterrey jack cheese, shredded
In a large, oven-safe skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add shrimp and sprinkle with 1 tsp. cajun seasoning. Cook, tossing frequently, until shrimp has turned opaque, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove shrimp from skillet.
Preheat oven to 350.
Add tomatoes, garlic, remaining cajun seasoning, and cooked quinoa to the skillet. Cook over medium heat until heated through and any juice from the tomatoes is absorbed or evaporated. Remove from heat.
Arrange shrimp on top of quinoa. Sprinkle cheese on the top and place in oven for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted.
Today is National Pancake Day! How are you going to celebrate it?
I have created a little chalkboard art to celebrate. Feel free to download, print, and use for personal use. Check out my other creations (logo free) on Etsy.
I’m going to be making some simple, traditional style Blueberry Pancakes. You should definitely try out one of these delicious recipes for your celebration today!
Traditional, quick & easy pancakes made on the griddle or in a skillet.
- Brown Sugar Oatmeal – add raisins and you’ll swear you’re eating a cookie.
- Strawbery Rhubarb – perfect for summer
- Whole Wheat Blueberry -healthier twist on the traditional American pancake
- Red Velvet – because you should definitely have something that tastes like cake for breakfast!
- Dark Chocolate Raspberry – you could also use white chocolate 😉
- Apricot Walnut -let’s celebrate the end of summer!
- Chai Spiced -a great fall pancake
- Jam – made with your favorite jam to flavor the batter
Oven Pancakes, a few twists on the traditional German/Dutch Baby Pancake that rises to great heights in your oven.
The latest item that I was sent home with was an Ambrosia Cheese Ball from Giant Eagle. I have to admit that the cheese ball was insanely delicious spread on graham crackers. I have searched the internet looking for the recipe but have come up empty handed for a copy cat recipe.
I told my mom about this and her solution was trying to buy me like a dozen of them. I’m not sure how she thought I could possible eat so many at one time. Yes they are delicious, but really?! I swear my mom is greatly lacking in common sense some times.
After talking her out of buying a ton of them, she said that she’d ask for the ingredients for what goes into them. She found a nice, older lady at the local store who very willingly slipped her the recipe. Yippee!
Ambrosia Cheese Ball
3 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
8 oz. butter cheese, softened
1 8 oz. can of crushed pineapple, well drained
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. light brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
3 maraschino cherries for garnish
Thoroughly mix cream cheese, butter cheese, pineapple, sugars, vanilla, coconut, and dried cherries. Shape into 3 balls. Roll each in pecans (if desired) and place a maraschino cherry in the center of each. (Depending on the brand, you may need to warm the butter cheese to make it mixable.)
Refrigerate for up to 1 week. Allow to come to room temperature before serving. Serve with graham crackers.
Although there are multitude of subtle flavors in this soup, the fresh carrot taste is what shined. Paired with some creme fraiche and pita bread, it was a perfect end of summer meal.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon table salt, plus more if needed2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used chicken)
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and dried on paper towels
1 generous tablespoon (15 ml or so) olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin