Zucchini Pizza

I have not posted about zucchini pizza boats and that makes me sad. I posted a photo of the boats on my Facebook once and wrote, “When you bout that healthy life but pizza is life.” Seriously, if I could never eat some form of pizza again I might just die. And the best part about eating different versions of pizza is the fact that you start to realize that it isn’t (always) about the bread, it’s about the toppings. So you can eat the cauliflower crust or these boats and still love them and feel like you’re eating pizza.

But this blog is not just about the recipe. The main idea of this post is to boast about how proud I am about this particular meal today for lunch. The first thing… look at the size of this zucchini!!!

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That’s a trenta cup! It was my daughter’s idea to take this next one…. a fun perspective photo.

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And guess where I got this beauty! MY GARDEN! It’s the first harvested crop from this years’ garden! I am beyond excited! I cannot wait to taste this thing. And just to add to my excitement, this meal will be enough to feed both my husband and I. I alone usually eat at least 1 and a half zucchinis because the store-bought ones are so small.

So here’s what I do. You’ll need a couple zucchini’s cut in half, olive oil, pizza or spaghetti sauce, mozzarella cheese, mini pepperonis, s&p and garlic. You can always add other pizza things but these are my go-to.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut the zucchinis in half and scoop out the insides. I cut the insides a bit so that I scoop square-ish pieces out. You don’t have to get all the middle out, just make a little divot like a boat. Put the insides in a fry pan and add some olive oil with a bit of s&p and garlic. Cook on medium. While that’s cooking, put your boats on a foil-lined cookie sheet, sprinkle with s&p and garlic, and put them in the oven while it’s heating up. You’re just cooking these a little so they are beginning to get soft. Stir your pan full of zucchini pieces until they start to get soft. Add about a cup of sauce and stir. Once everything is heated, remove the boats from the oven. Pour your pan contents into each boat. Top with mini ronis and cheese.

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I also added fresh basil from the garden!!

Bake for about 15-20 minutes. Then broil for about 3 minutes just to really crisp up the cheese. ENJOY!!

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Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Lately, I have had a lot of people ask me for my cauliflower pizza crust recipe. I blogged it a long time ago in my Facebook Notes but I have since made adjustments and perfected it so I thought I would share again. Here goes…

Ingredients:
2 large heads of cauliflower (this will make a square the size of a cookie sheet)
2 large eggs
Italian seasonings
Olive Oil
4 cups mozzarella cheese
Pizza toppings of choice
Cookie sheet
Large mixing bowl

Directions:
-Pre-cook any raw toppings like chicken. Set aside.
-Preheat oven to 450.
-Rice cauliflower and place in a large glass bowl. *To rice the cauliflower either pulse chunks in a food processor, or grate chunks on a cheese grater. I prefer the grater. The end result should look like rice. It’s okay if you have a few bigger pieces.
-Place riced cauliflower in the microwave on high for 6 minutes. DO NOT add any water.
-Once cauliflower is cooked, add eggs, Italian seasonings, and 2 cups (or 2 handfuls) of cheese, and stir until mixed.
-Coat cookie sheet with olive oil
-Pour cauliflower mixture onto the cookie sheet and flatten out.
-Cook crust for approx 15 minutes. Crust will be firm in the middle. Edges may look slightly burned and that’s okay.
-Once crust is done, let sit for 10 minutes while you prep the toppings. Turn oven off.
-Add desired toppings to crust (this includes the other 2 cups of mozzarella cheese)
-BROIL pizza for approx 3 minutes or until cheese is brown and bubbly.
-Cut and serve with a fork.

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I have used this same recipe to make “breadsticks” to dip into marinara or to have as a side with spaghetti, or spaghetti squash if you want to go super low carb.

I have also used this same basic recipe to make cauliflower “tortillas”. You just change the seasonings to Mexican style, add lime juice, and cilantro, skip the cheese, and flip mid way through the baking. I haven’t quite mastered those yet but I haven’t made them as many times as the pizza crust.

Enjoy!!

Cheese with Cheese and a Side of Cheese

The other day my husband posted a video (click it) to my Facebook page. There is a restaurant in NY that serves tacos in shells made of cheese. We are a family who loves cheese so this seemed right up our alley. I commented, “Why the f*** have we not done this before?” We decided to try this last weekend. I bought the ingredients (cheese) and went to work.

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Cheese in pan.

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Annnnndd it’s melting. And it’s getting greasy!

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Flipped it!

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And it became a shell. Time to fill it and eat it!

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Annnddd here’s my review…

I DON’T recommend this. I looooooovvveee cheese but this was too much.

In the video you see a lady pull the shell apart and it’s still stringy and melty. My first mistake was cooking the cheese too long. I think my second mistake was having too much time lapse between making the shell and filling and eating it. The shell hardened way too much as it sat there. And my third mistake was thinking that a cheese shell would taste like cheese and not a hard greasy weird shell. Fourth mistake was thinking this much cheese would be a good idea. My daughter took one bite and gave up. I took two bites and gave up. My husband muscled through it and finished his; good job, sweetie.

In conclusion, if I ever go to this restaurant where they have perfected this recipe, I will most definitely try it and probably love it. But I will not be trying to make these at home again. Good luck to anyone who does. I’d love to hear a good review of a homemade cheese shell.

Super Delicious Pumpkin Cookies

Have you ever eaten one of the pumpkin scones from Starbucks? They are soft and the frosting is amazeballs! This cookie is as close as you are going to get to making your own! And you can make them year-round, not just that one week during late September when they first start selling the PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte for the non-Starbucks peeps) and all the scones sell out so you have to be the first person in the door. Yeah, they’re that good!!

I came across this recipe because one of the times I was making a pumpkin pie I had left over pumpkin and I didn’t want it to go to waste. I am that person that only buys what I need when I need it for baking, so I also had to find a recipe that didn’t require baking powder (that one thing you either don’t have or you have an expired can) or some other “one-time use” ingredient. This one was perfect and the cookies are perfect so it worked out perfectly. 🙂 If you buy a large can of pumpkin that is enough for 2 pies, you will still have a bit left over after the cookies. It works out well.

Here’s what they look like right before they enter your mouth….

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I’m not going to list the ingredients and everything here because it would just be plagiarizing, but I will show you photos and give you a couple tips before I give you the website. Or you can scroll past all this and just get to the link. I won’t be mad. 😉

Tip 1: Follow the instructions. Easy right? Not for everyone.

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Tip 2: Cook them until you think they are not quite done. Does that make sense? I put mine in the oven for 10 minutes, look at them to make sure they’re still snuggled up on the baking sheet and didn’t run off, then I turn the timer on for 3 more minutes. When they come out they are still soft and almost look uncooked in the middle. And I immediately put them on a cooling rack so they don’t cook any longer.

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The buttercream recipe is pretty freaking fantastic too! So follow those directions too. But these cookies are also 100% delicious without the icing.

Tip 3: If you cook too many (we are a family of 3 and we also had brownies and pie the last time I cooked these so yes, there is such thing as too many cookies) you can totally freeze them for later. I just took some out of the freezer today and they were still amazeballs after defrosting. They didn’t get soggy or weird or anything.

Okay, here’s the link. Betty Crocker Pumpkin Cookies

Enjoy!!!!

Chrissy’s Pumpkin Pie…From Scratch

First, I should let you know that even though I live a pretty healthy lifestyle, I don’t skimp on dessert. When I make desserts I use sugar and flour and shortening! You have to treat yourself and enjoy dessert. That’s how I live. Now, get your pie pants on and let’s make some pie!!!!

My dad has always been the pie maker in our family. I am not sure how he got started but for as long as I can remember, when holidays came around it was always my dad with the apron on. Once I got married and left the nest I started making pies. I’ll follow a recipe for various pies but pumpkin pie is my specialty. It’s mine! If I happen to be home around fall or the holidays I am the pumpkin pie maker.

When I left home, I took my dad’s pie crust recipe with me. I’ve never bought pre-made crust, ever. I used to make the crust and then just buy the already done pumpkin pie filling (the one that has all the spices and you just add an egg and evaporated milk) but one day I decided to try using an actual pumpkin. I have been racking my brain the last couple days trying to figure out how long ago it was that I used an actual pumpkin for the first time. I am going to say the first time was about 8 years ago. I don’t think I ever did it before my daughter was born but I cannot remember. I may have. Ugh. Getting off track. Since that first time, whenever it was, I have not bought pumpkin filling for a pie. I have made my pumpkin pies completely from scratch every time. Okay, I may buy a can of pumpkin if actual pumpkins aren’t around anymore, but only plain pumpkin, and then I add all my own stuff. Annnnnyyyway…let’s get to the baking shall we?!

This is actually the earliest in the fall season I have ever made a pie. I guess I can blame it on Lowes for having a great deal on pumpkins already. I spent at least 5 minutes picking up every single pumpkin to find the heaviest one. I am always going to get my money’s worth. $2.98 each is a super deal! They are usually that much per pound. So, home I went to “murder a pumpkin” (it’s what I say every year). But first, lemme take a selfie.

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Okay, let’s really get going now. First let’s start with cooking your pumpkin. If you bought a can of pumpkin, skip down to the crust recipe.

Cut your pumpkin in half. It’s not an easy task. I usually start about 2 inches under the stem and work one side until the bottom. Then I do the same on the other side. Once you have a cut on both sides you can pull the pumpkin apart. The stem will just break off onto one side. Next, scoop out all the seeds and as much of the stringy stuff as you can. Pretend you’re carving a pumpkin but you want the inside to be super clean. Once done, put your two halves face up on a baking sheet, cover with a foil tent, and put them in a 350-375 degree oven.

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Now, go do something with your time because it’s going to take at least an hour and a half to bake if not longer. At this point, I went and did yoga, took a shower, and cooked myself lunch. I checked the pumpkin after an hour and reset the timer for 30 minutes. I did this twice, so it was approximately 2 hours for the pumpkin to bake and get soft.

Once soft, I poked mine with a fork a bunch of times, let it cool for a bit just so that you don’t burn your hands when you’re scooping out all the pumpkin. You might see some liquid in the pumpkin halves as well letting you know they are done. Once cool enough, scoop out all the pumpkin. As you can see, I try to get every little spec out. Place in a bowl and set aside. Time for crust!!

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I turned my oven off now just to give it a break.

Items you will need for the crust and filling…
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Ingredients for Crust:
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup shortening
3 tbs butter
1/3 cup water
1 egg white (beaten until foamy)

Directions:
Put flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Cut butter and shortening into flour and salt. (See photo for cutting utensil) Your dough will be very chunky (see photo). Stir in water and egg white. Your dough ball will form now. Flour your work space and hands, and roll your dough. I like to put wax paper down and tape it to the counter; easy clean up.

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Place your flattened crust in your pie pan and set it aside.

But wait…do you have extra pie crust? Yes you do. What do you do with that? Make crust cookies, duh. Turn your oven back on to 425 (for the pie). Roll out your remaining dough and use a cookie cutter to make some shapes. Place those on a baking sheet, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or pumpkin pie spice, and throw em in the oven. I didn’t even wait for the temperature to get all the way to 425 (it was already pretty warm from the pumpkin). I cooked the cookies for about 6 minutes. Now you have a snack while your pie cooks. GENIUS!! Side note: my Christmas cookies are usually pie crust cookies. They are that good!!

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Time for the pumpkin filling. You will need:
1 1/2 cups cooked pumpkin
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
12oz evaporated milk (usually 1 can)
1 tbsp of pumpkin pie spice (a tbsp is really a lot. I’ve added more before and it’s too spicy. Stick with this much)

Measure out your cooked pumpkin before you start adding the ingredients. I had almost 3 cups. I put the extra in a bowl and put it in the fridge for later. That blog is coming later so stay tuned.

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Mix everything except the evaporated milk together. Slowly add the evaporated milk, mix, and pour into your pie crust. Those neat red things are silicone crust covers. If you don’t have those, make thin strips of foil to place around and over your crust.

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Place pie in oven for 15 minutes on 425. Turn the temperature down to 325 and continue cooking for another 50-60 minutes. Do the fork test in the middle. Viola!

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Later, enjoy a slice with your friends or family.

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We usually don’t share our pie; at least not the first one of the season. But I have shared before and this is what people say about it.

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If you used this recipe for the whole pie, or just the crust or filling, I’d love to hear how you liked it! Comment below. Happy Fall!!

Chrissy’s Banana Bread

I feel like I can officially call this MY bread because I didn’t follow a specific recipe and I added things that were not in a recipe.

This past Friday night my husband was gone and I felt like baking. I had 3 really ripe bananas so I thought about trying banana bread. I had never made it before so I called my bff because it just so happened she planned to make banana bread too. She text me a recipe. I headed to my cupboard to see if I had all the right ingredients. I did, but I also had some almond flour and thought maybe I’d try that rather than white flour. So I text my other bff for advice. BFF 1 is more of a “follow the recipe” type where BFF2 is a “throw it together and see what happens” type. I told her that I was going to make banana bread with almond flour and she sent me a Paleo recipe. She also let me know that almond flour is heavier than regular flour and I should add extra baking soda or baking powder. So…I took what I learned from both recipes and BFFs and came up with my own concoction.

Besides the almond flour variation, I was also just looking around to see what I had in the spice department to add. I didn’t have chocolate chips or nuts, but I did have honey, baking cocoa, and cinnamon. I was already using sugar so I nixed the honey but stuck with the cocoa and cinnamon. One recipe called for 1 egg, the other for 2. I just went for it! I created my own.

Here is my bread on it’s way into the oven. It’s in a Corningware dish because I don’t have a loaf pan (obviously not a bread making girl). The cocoa made it very dark.

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My house smelled soooooooooo good all evening and into the next morning. I feel like I may make banana bread more often just to recreate this smell. OMG!

And then, voila! Soooo delicious!!

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What’s funny is how my husband’s and my minds played tricks on us as we were reaching for bites. I saw brown and knew it was bread so my mind when to gingerbread. My husband saw brown and thought brownies. He loved the bread but kept saying, “Nope. Still not brownies.” (I should make him some brownies)

Here’s my recipe:

Ingredients:
3 ripe bananas
1/3 cup melted butter (I use old fashioned salted butter)
2 cups almond flour
1 tbsp baking soda
Pinch of salt (Yes, I added salt even with salted butter. I like salt. I used one twist of my pink himalayan salt)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp baking cocoa

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Some ingredients are gluten free and/or organic but this is not a requirement for this recipe. It’s just what I have in my house.

Preheat oven to 350
Grease baking pan
**Side Note: A friend of mine taught me this fun trick. Save the wrappers from your sticks of butter. When you need to butter or grease a pan, rub the wrapper on your pan. The left over butter is the perfect amount. This is what I did and it’s the best thing ever.

In a large bowl, mash bananas using a fork until they are nice and mushy. Add melted butter and stir. Add all other ingredients except the almond flour and stir. Slowly add the almond flour and stir. No need to get aggressive, just casually mix everything together.

Pour into your baking dish and put it in the oven. I set my timer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes the middle was still jello-y so I set the timer for another 15 minutes. I checked the middle with a fork and the middle was clean.

I couldn’t wait until the morning to taste it, so I cut a small piece out the corner to test. Soooo moist and yummy! By Sunday morning the bread was gone but it was just as moist a couple days later. It was really spectacular. I will make this again for sure.

Variations I suggest…Don’t add sugar. I think the bananas are sweet enough that you really don’t need the sugar. The first recipe I saw said 1 whole cup. I only added 1/2 but I bet I didn’t need it. Maybe next time I will omit the sugar and add the honey instead. Obviously adding nuts and chocolate chips is a good idea.

If you happen to try my recipe, leave me a comment and let me know how you liked it! Happy Cooking!

Butter Blog

One of the cool, fun, and interesting things about clean eating is learning WHERE your food comes from and HOW it’s made. Just this weekend we “harvested” a duck for dinner. We now know where the food came from (a friend with a farm), what it ate (whatever it could get by foraging in the open yard), how it was slaughtered (I won’t go into details but we did this ourselves), and how it had to be prepared to be cooked and served. We did EVERYTHING!! That’s pretty neat. But this blog isn’t about the duck.

One of the things we eat a lot of is butter. But what exactly is butter? Once you know, it won’t seem bad like some people have made it out to be. We used to eat margarine and then we found out that it’s made with oil and sometimes things that resemble plastic. Did you know that someone invented margarine as a food to help fatten up turkeys? First, key word INVENTED. We really shouldn’t be eating things that are invented. Second, if it was used to FATTEN up anything I don’t want it. So a while ago we switched to real butter. If I buy butter I get salted butter and it’s only ingredients are cream and salt. But how does the cream become butter? And why add salt? That’s why I’m here! I’m going to take you step by step through the super fun (and kind of exhausting) process of making your own butter (it’s only exhausting on your arm muscles but hey, workout and make butter. Win win!!)

I’ll answer the why add salt question first. Have you ever eaten unsalted butter? It’s gross. That’s why you add salt. End of story.

When we started eating clean and learning about where food comes we decided to try to make our own butter. We just googled it and tried it. This blog is basically that except I’ll go into better detail with photos.

First you need heavy cream, not whipping cream. What’s the difference? Heavy cream is, you guessed it, heavier. It has about 35% milk fat while the whipping cream has only about 30%.  Heavy cream, a mason jar, salt, paper towels, a plastic container, and your muscles!  Let’s do it!

Take your cream out of the fridge about an hour before you are going to start. The outside of the container won’t be cold to the touch. Not warm, but not cold. Okay, it’s ready.

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Start by adding your cream to your mason jar. Fill it only about half way because the cream is going to get thicker and it needs room to expand.

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Tighten the lid and start shaking. You’re going to shake about 2 minutes or until your cream is solid and it feels like you can’t shake it anymore.

From the outside it will look like this…

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If you open the lid it will look like this…

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Put the lid back on and continue shaking. This is really the worst part because it will feel like you are shaking a solid and that you are making no progress. I promise, you’re doing it right. About another 2 minutes later the solid will feel like it is moving again. See the difference?

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Keep shaking until there is liquid in the jar again. There will be a little ball of butter and buttermilk.

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Once you hear the liquid, shake for maybe 15 more seconds. Don’t overdo it.

Now, open your jar and rinse the butter. Pour out the buttermilk (or save it for pancakes or something. I can’t tell you about that because I’ve never done it) and rinse the butter with cold water, swishing it around, until the water runs clear. It’s totally normal for little pieces of butter to come out into the sink. (Like the little piece floating on the top in the next photo).

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Once the water is clear, pour it out and put the butter into a couple paper towels and squeeze out all the water. Use more paper towels if you need to.

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When it feels dry, plop it down into the plastic container. Cover it and start back at the top until you’re out of cream. This pint of cream took me 4 repeats. I was beat when I was done, lol. Usually my husband is making butter with me so the work is split. I did this alone and I had jello arms when I was done. The very first time we did it, my daughter helped too but wimped out at the shaking the solid step. But I definitely recommend this as a family project.

Once you are done and have balls of butter, use a spoon and mush it up.

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If there is any excess water, soak it up with another napkin. You don’t want any liquid. The liquid is not BAD, but if it sits in there too long it will make your butter rotten (think milk sitting on something it doesn’t belong on).

Add your salt, a couple turns of the the grinder, mix it up, and put it in the fridge. Or make some toast and try it out. MMMMM!!!!!!

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ENJOY!!!

 

 

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