Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bean and Ham Soup

This must be one of the yummiest soups out there. It's one I grew up on, and over the years it's gotten better and better. I made this on Halloween (It's tradition to eat soup on Halloween at my house). Just a word of advice, don't wait to buy beans during the week of Halloween. Apparently everyone makes chili or something with beans that week. The store was completely out of Great Northern White Beans. I used what I had left at home then used two cans of Navy Beans, which didn't make much of a difference.

Bean and Ham Soup

6 cans of Great Northern White Beans, drained and rinsed
One Ham Shank (or Ham Hock) Note: Shanks have more meat than hocks
One onion, chopped
Sprinkle of Garlic Powder
Water (about 2 cups worth)
1/2 can of Evaporated Milk

If you choose, you can make this with dried beans instead of canned. Just cover beans in water in slow cooker overnight. They will soak up all the water, so be sure to use lots of water.
Chop one onion and add to slow cooker along with beans, water and ham. Sprinkle garlic powder over beans and ham. Don't use too much. You can always add some later.
Cook slowly all day. Before it's time to eat, remove ham shank and place on cutting board. Seperate the meat from the bone and fat. Shred meat and replace in slow cooker. Having a dog comes in handy with what's left over ;)
Stir in evaporated milk then serve. Makes around 8 servings.

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Mindy's White Bean Chicken Chili

Now I need to give credit for this recipe where it's due, and that would be to my friend Mindy Mae. She gave this recipe to me years ago and it's become a staple in our house since. I've made slight adjustments to fit my own tastes, but it's essentially the same.
Thanks Mindy :)

Mindy's White Bean Chicken Chili

1 pound Chicken
6 cans of Great Northern White Beans or four cups dried beans (make adjustment if using dried)
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 small cans of diced green chilis
1 onion chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
salt and pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

I like to make this in a slow cooker, but it can be made in a pot in less than 45 min.

In a slow cooker . . .
add bite size pieces of raw chicken, cans of beans (beans only, no liquid), broth, chilis, onion, garlic, salt and pepper, and cayenne at low heat and cook all day (or at least 4 hours). If you are using dried beans, let them sit in a bowl of water over night then drain extra water and add same ingredients.
Once cooked and just before serving, add sour cream and whipping cream and stir until creamy and well combined. If you are making this for children, you may want to decrease the amount of cayenne or omit it entirely.

In pan over stove . . .
Over medium heat add a small amount of olive oil into pan and add onion. Cook onion for five minutes, then add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add chicken and cook for another five min. Then add beans (without liquid), broth, chilis, salt and pepper, and cayenne. Simmer for 30 minute. Before serving add sour cream and whipping cream and stir until creamy.

Note: If you add the liquid from the canned beans, it will be too runny. You want it a tad thick.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What I eat

When I talk about my low glycemic diet with friends, they all have the same question with the same bewildered look on their face . . . What can you even eat?

I eat a lot of things. It's not all veggies. Sure my lunches have changed from eating peanut butter and jam sandwiches to Caprese, which might very well be the best thing on the planet, but I'm happy making the change. Seriously though, caprese is good stuff. It's fresh and all natural. Sometimes I eat the Caprese with just mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and basil. Sometimes I eat it will a slice of artisan bread. Most artisan breads don't have sugar or honey in it, so it's safe for those who are cutting back on sugar.
Mmmm look at it. How can you not love this stuff?

I also eat a lot of avocados on artisan toast. It has always been a longtime treat. When I don't have bread handy I make guacamole by mixing my homemade fresh salsa, a sprinkle of garlic powder, and avocados. My homemade salsa recipe comes from my good friend Annette. Click here to get the best salsa recipe you'll ever taste. The only difference between her recipe and mine, is I omit the sugar and I use tepin chiles vs a jalapeno. Tepin chiles look like small orange peas, and they are dry. I usually use two tepin chiles for the whole batch for a mild salsa. The chiles can be found at any Latino market.
For dinner I sometimes make the traditional spaghetti using whole wheat pasta and homemade marinara sauce. When I make my marinara sauce I don't ever measure, so I'll describe my recipe the best I can. I use low salt tomato sauce and paste, however much you need for your family. Then I add seasonings, which include garlic powder, onion powder, salt free Italian seasonings, and a little extra basil (I love basil). My secret ingredient that always makes a difference is 1/8 tsp (or less) of cayenne seasoning. Then of course I serve it with some kind of steamed veggie.

If spaghetti doesn't satisfy the demands of the hungry booger pickers, I fix balsamic chicken, tacos, or curry. My kids love the curry the best. Over the next few months I hope to add more of my favorite recipes to this blog, so tune in often.

As for snacks, I find whatever I can that is low glycemic. My favorite treat I've found is Larabars. Click here to see their site. I've only ever tried apple, cherry, and peanut butter. You can buy a box of them at costco. What I love about them is they have very few ingredients. The peanut butter one has three ingredients; dates, peanuts, sea salt. Oh, it's so good. The cherry has dates, almonds, and unsweetened cherries. As a bonus they are gluten free, dairy free, soy free, non-GMO, vegan and kosher. If you haven't had one, try them. I'd choose them over any granola or protein bar out there.

So, these are just a few examples of what I eat. Going out to eat is a whole different ball game. There are times it becomes extremely discouraging. I'm limited to where I can eat. I try to stick with Mexican grill, Thia or Japanese restaurants. They seem to be the safest.

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Beef and Veggie Stew

There are a gazillion soups out there to make, and let's face it, beef and vegitable stew has fallen off the grid. Besides minstroni, beef and veggie stew is my favorite. It reminds me of my childhood. So, in an effort to revive a much beloved comfort food, I give you my recipe of the savory goodness.

Beef and Veggie Stew
1 package stew meat
2 tablespoons olive oil, canola oil, or avocado oil
around 8 to 10 carrots peeled and chopped to bite size
4 medium size potatoes (I use red and I leave a bit of the skin on)
1 medium size onion chopped
4 tsp chopped garlic
1 bay leave
1 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 dried basil
6 bouillon cubes
salt and pepper to taste
enough water to cover veggies and meat in slow cooker
2/3 cup water
4 tablespoons flour

First, add meat and oil into a hot pan over medium high heat. Cook for five minutes until all sides have 'browned' (Insides will still be uncooked). Add meat and chopped veggies into slow cooker. Add water then all other ingredients minus thickener. Cook all day long on a low setting or for at least four hours on high. Once cooked and tender, mix 2/3 cup water and flour together until nicely blended (if you have difficulty getting the lumps disolved, just strain the mixture). Pour thickener into slow cooker and stir. You want it to be slightly thick, not as thick as gravy, but not thin like soup.
It makes enough for a family of six.

In the picture above I made homemade bread that I substituted the sugar with stevia powder. If you're eating a low glycemic diet like I am, then you can find breads without sugar or honey in the bakery department of the grocery store. All the specialty breads they bake fresh daily are sugar free (at least it is at the store where I shop, you might want to check). The recipe I used came from a company that makes bread from start to finish in one hour. If you're interested in receiving this recipe you'll have to contact a consultant who works for the company at
I have made their bread for a few years now and have loved both the white and wheat recipes. They are moist and last longer than other homemade breads out there.

Whatever bread you use to soak up the last drops of deliciousness, you won't be disapointed in the stew. I hope you enjoy it!

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Updates and stuff

Some of my readers have been asking how things are going with my writing, and since I'm currently sick and tired of editing, I suppose I'll post what's goin' on.
At the moment have 8 and 3/4 manuscripts completed and several started. I've restricted myself on writing over the last month, as I need to finish edits on some to prepare to send into publishers. The problem I run into is all I want to do is write. I have so many ideas piling up that I can't keep up. Knowing my writing will go nowhere without editing and sending them in, I force myself to edit. As you can tell from my posts, I'm not the best at grammar, so it takes me longer than most writers.
The book I'm currently working on is particularly hard to edit. There is a great amount of research when writing anything from another time period. Thanks to fellow writers, they have directed me to where I need to go to get things right. The challenge I face with this book is the time change and difference in characters. It is a time travel Regency (1808 England to be exact), so I have a character from the modern age interacting with those from the nineteenth century. Getting the language right is imperative for my readers.
So, I will edit until my brain is shriveled to the size of a pea.
Writing isn't the only thing that sucks up my time. I have children, which of course takes the most time of all, but when I'm not doing my mommy duties or writing, I draw. Last week I finished a book cover for a fellow writer. It will be the 5th in an Owen Family Saga called, "Gone For A Soldier" by Marsha Ward. She's currently writing said book and is unclear when the release date will be. Once she's done with her book cover reveal I'll post the artwork here on my blog and the link to where you can purchase the book.
As for other art projects, I have a few lining up. We'll see how they come about. I'll keep you all updated.
Last month I had the privilege to attend a few book release parties. One being Julianne Donaldson's "Blackmoore". I was tickled pink to see my artwork in her book. Thanks again Julie! Click here for a look at her book.
Over the last three months I've pushed myself to getting healthier and it's been working. I've gone off sugar, even so far as cutting out some breads that contain sugar and also dressings. There are times when I go out to eat and nothing on the menu will satisfy and I don't want to be stuck eating carrots and celery, so I cave and eat something that contains the smallest amount of sugar or honey possible. So far I've felt and seen improvements. I feel better and went down two sizes in pants. The biggest reward is how I feel and the fact that I haven't been sick in months (knock on wood).
Now that fall is upon us I've got the itch for baking and cooking. It always happens to me at this time of year. I love to bake, and all my favorite things I used to bake have sugar in them. Booooo! :(. As you can see on my previous posts I'm experimenting with some of my usual recipes and trying some new ones as well. The apple pie was mostly a success. I've been able to make my own bread by substituting stevia in place of sugar.
This week I started making my traditional chocolate suckers for the trick-or-treaters in my neighborhood. If I can scrounge up enough time in the day I might make some chocolate eyeballs. I haven't decided what I will fill them with yet. Coconut is always a popular choice. I will also try to make myself some chocolates from sugar free chocolate I mentioned in a previous post. I'm crossing my fingers that they melt well enough.
Well, that about sums up what I've been doing. I'd love to hear from you and know what you think of my recipes. Try them out and comment. :) Pin It

Monday, October 14, 2013

Easy Chicken Wrap

Here is a simple thing to make for dinner or lunch. When you can't figure out what to have for dinner and you've got the following ingredients on hand then it will make your life a little easier.

Easy Chicken Wraps
Flour Tortillas (use uncooked flour tortillas. It takes two minutes to cook)
Cooked chicken strips
Italian seasoning
Sour cream

In a pan warm chicken strips with a sprinkle of Italian seasoning to taste. In a small bowl mix sour cream and Italian seasoning until it's to your liking. This is what I use in place of ranch dressing.
Wrap the chicken, a small handful of cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and lettuce in tortilla. Enjoy!


My kids love these and it's easy enough for them to help you in the kitchen.

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sugar Free Apple Pie

I told you all in one of my previous posts that I was starting a new adventure of baking and cooking with no sugar, and it has been an adventure. There are recipes that don't turn out as perfectly as I would have liked. This apple pie is one of them.
Don't get me wrong, it was delicious. In fact it was better than most apple pies because it wasn't too sweet. I could taste more apple than sugar. The problem was in the crust. It didn't look pretty.
I know it sounds stupid, but I like my food to look pretty. With that said, I would change only one thing . . . I would refrigerate my crust dough before rolling it out. Yep, that's it.

Sugar Free Apple Pie

6 large Ganny Smith apples, peeled and sliced.
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tsp stevia powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tablespoon flour

2 cups flour
3/4 cup coconut oil
3 tablespoons water

First, make your crust by cutting coconut oil into flour, then add water and continue cutting until well blended. It should look like this . . .

Next, peel and slice apples and put in large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. In a small bowl or measuring cup mix together flour, stevia, and cinnamon then sprinkle over apples and mix until apples are well coated.

After refrigerating dough for 30 min, split dough into two and roll one half between wax paper, rolling out the edges. If you notice in the picture below that there is a lump in the middle. You should roll it out until eventually it's flat and three inches bigger than your pie pan. Carefully flip it over into pie dish.
Add apples to pie dish . . .
And roll out the other half of your pie crust and place on top. I recommend, once you've rolled it out, to remove one side of wax paper, replace it, then flip it over and remove the other side. It's easier to get the crust off once you've already peeled it off. I hope that makes sense. Once you have it on top, pinch the sides together and tuck inside the dish, then sprinkle with milk and a pinch or two of stevia powder. Bake at 375 for 50 min to 1 hour.
My attempt on this didn't work as planned, as it was too warm in my house and the coconut oil was on the verge of melting. I believe it will be easier if it was a wee bit cold. My pie ended up looking like an old quilt that has been patched far too many times.
Here is the tasty result . . .
I found that the coconut oil made the crust flakier than using shortening. Not having the sugar makes the apples stand out even more. I loved this pie, even if it was a little homely looking. ;)

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There are times when I post things in such a short time limit that I forget things that needed to be added to recipes or things that I would have liked to say. The post just previous is such an example. I had forgotten to include how I make the gravy. I really can't believe I'd forget something that's vital to a roast dinner.
As always, I blame my forgetfulness on being a writer. My mind is always preoccupied with characters.

So, take a look below at the slow cooker roast recipe. Once the dinner is fully cooked and falling apart with tenderness then remove the roast onto a platter and spoon out onions and carrots into a bowl. What you have left is all the succulent juices that will soon be the gravy.
There are two ways of making gravy; first is with flour. Mix two round tablespoons of flour with a cup of warm water until nicely blended (You can strain the mixture if you see any chunks).
Second is the most common way I make gravy. In one cup of cool water I add around 3 to 4 tablespoons of corn starch and stir until blended.
While you mix either the flour mixture or the cornstarch mixture, you should have your roast juice simmering in a large sauce pan over medium high heat. When the juice is bubbling, pour the mixture (Corn or flour) into pan with juices and stir. If you've poured all the mixture in and it is still not to desired thickness, mix a little more and add until satisfied.

I hope you will all forgive my forgetfulness, but I do have to warn you, it will happen again.

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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Easy Sunday Roast

This recipe has seen many Sunday dinners at our table. It's one of the easiest things to make.
First you need a nice, big piece of beef roast. Place it in a slow cooker and add about a cup and a half of water. Sprinkle salt and pepper over meat. Add beef bullion (if you use cubes add around eight. If you use the soft stuff you refrigerate then add two big spoon fulls).
Add about 3 tsp chopped garlic, then add around 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce over meat.
Cut up onion to bite size pieces and carrots--how ever much you like.
 Cover and let cook on a low setting all day or a higher setting if you need to eat sooner. It needs to slow cook for at least 4 hours before it's tender enough to enjoy.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Oatmeal Marble Cookies

I have to first apologize to those who have begged for this recipe and have not yet received it. I'm sorry. It might have been years ago that you asked for this, but with a memory like mine I forget who asks. One of the reasons I've held back on sharing this recipe is because I don't measure, which makes it difficult to share.
I've been told several times over how mouth watering these cookies are. I'd have to agree. This is the number one best cookie recipe I've ever come up with. Number two would be my peanut butter chocolate chip cookie, but that's for another day.
This recipe can go many different ways. I add only chocolate chips for the simple chocolate chip recipes. I add raisins and pecans for the worlds best raisin oatmeal cookies. You can add white chocolate chips, pecans, and craisins for something a little different. Chopped up candy bars are great as well. The sky is the limit.
So, here is my super secret oatmeal chocolate chip/raisin/candy bar/whatever you want cookie recipe.

If you wish to share this on any other sight, please add a link back to my blog. Thanks.

Christine's Oatmeal Marble Cookies
1 pound soft butter (I use salt free butter)
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
around 4 cups oatmeal
2 cups nuts
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 cups white chocolate chunks
2 cups milk chocolate chips or chunks.

Preheat oven to 350. Whip together butter and white sugar, then add brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until creamy. In separate bowl stir together flour, salt, and soda. Add flour mixture into sugar mixture and mix until well blended. I don't measure the oatmeal, I add until it looks right. You want you cookie dough moist and sticky, but thick enough for a dough. It should stick to a spoon. If you put too much flour or oats in, just add a tablespoon of milk.
Next, add nuts then split your dough in half and put one in a separate bowl. In one portion, mix the cocoa powder in until well blended, then add the white chocolate in and mix. In the other portion add milk chocolate chips or chunks and mix. Take a small scoop of dough from each portion and roll together and place on stone baking pan (stone creates the best results). Bake for 7-10 minutes.

There you go. My super secret best recipe is out. Again, I ask, if you'd like to share anywhere, link back to this sight. Thanks, and enjoy!
Now I'll go cry while you all make this, as I can't have any. :(

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