Friday, December 28, 2012

12 Days of Meyer - Day 8: Meyer Sponge Pudding



Light as a feather on top with a sweet tart sauce underneath.
This is an old standby that gets the Meyer twist.

Meyer Lemon Sponge Pudding Cake

4 Eggs Separated
1/3 Cup Fresh Squeezed Meyer Lemon Juice
2 Tsp. of Meyer Lemon Zest
1 Tbs. of Butter
1 1/2 Cups of Sugar
1/2 Cup of Sifted Flour
1/2 Tsp. of Salt
1 1/2 Cups of Milk

Preheat oven to 350. 

With a wire whisk attachment on your mixer,  beat the egg whites to a stiff peak, then set aside.  In a bowl, mix the egg yolks, lemon juice, zest, butter and sugar, then add the flour, salt and milk slowly to the mixture. After it is mixed, fold in the egg whites until incorporated. Pour batter into a deep dish or 8x8 pan. Place a pan of hot water in the oven and place the pan with the cake batter in that pan to create a water bath. Bake for 45 minutes. The cake will separate while baking creating a sponge cake on top and a lemon sauce on the bottom. 



Thursday, December 27, 2012

12 Days of Meyer - Day 7: Chicken Piccata



For a quick weeknight dinner throw this dish together. No reason why Meyers can't find themselves in a delicious savory dish. I'm jus' sayin'!

I used this recipe by Giada De Laurentis of the Food Network.


Chicken Piccata

Ingredients
  • 2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Directions
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate. Melt 2 more tablespoons butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner. Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.

Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock and capers. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Check for seasoning. Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

12 Days of Meyer - Day 6: Meyer Hummus


Being on a low glycemic diet these days pushes me to make better snack choices. I have always loved hummus but when I realized that homemade tastes much better then the store bought, as well as being cheaper, then why not, right? This recipe is not traditional as I leave out the tahini, but you can certainly add some if you like.



Meyer Lemon Hummus

(Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups of Hummus)

In your blender, blend the following until a paste is made, fine or coarse - your preference.

1 1/2 cups of cooked Garbanzo Beans (chick peas). I like to cook my own but you can use canned.
Zest of 1 Meyer Lemon
1/3 cup fresh juice of a Meyer Lemon
1/3 cup good extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of fresh garlic
1 tsp of salt (more if you prefer)
Black pepper (to taste)

Place in a dish and serve with pita wedges or raw veggies.


Friday, December 21, 2012

12 Days Of Meyer - Day 5: All Purpose Household Cleaner



All-purpose cleaning solution: combine lemon juice, vinegar and water in a spray bottle. You can use this for all of your counter tops or shower/tub cleaning. It does a decent job on windows too.


Cut a lemon in half and sprinkle baking soda on the cut section. Use the lemon to scrub dishes, surfaces, and stains. I cleaned my whole stove-top with one lemon half and 1/4 cup of baking soda.

To make furniture polish, mix one part lemon juice and two parts olive oil.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

12 Days of Meyer - Day 4: Meyer Thyme Butter



Compound butters can be the perfect finish to top off a grilled steak or fish filet. They are easy to make and will keep in the fridge for several weeks. In a bowl, take one stick of softened butter, zest of a whole lemon and 1 teaspoon of the juice. Add in some fresh thyme (to your liking) and stir it all up. Remove butter from bowl and spoon onto parchment paper or plastic wrap. Roll into a log, using the edge of a baking sheet to form a tight log. Chill for 2 hours before serving. Or, you can keep in a bowl and use right away. I like to spread some on sprouted toast alongside hard-boiled eggs for breakfast.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

12 Days of Meyer - Day 3: Meyer Muffins



Ingredients
2 Cups unbleached flour
1/2 Cup sugar, plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Cup butter
1/2 Cup fresh lemon juice
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons of Meyer lemon zest
12 Thin 1/4 inch slices of Meyer lemons

Streusel Topping
4 Tablespoons of softened butter
1/3 Cup of sugar
1/3 Cup of flour

In a separate bowl, combine the above and with your fingertips mix until incorporated and crumbly. Set aside.



Directions
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tins (or line with papers). Combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, zest and salt; blend well. Melt butter and cool. Stir in lemon juice and eggs. Stir egg mixture into dry ingredients and blend until well moistened. Spoon into greased muffin tins, sprinkle top of batter with 2 tablespoons streusel topping. Place one lemon slice on top of each muffin.

Bake 15-20 minutes until lightly browned, but do not over bake!

Monday, December 17, 2012

12 Days of Meyer - Day 2: Meyer Water



What? You think lemon water is lemon water? I beg to differ. The beauty of Meyer lemons is that they have a unique flavor all their own. Meyers have hints of mild citrus with a slight tang and a touch of floral. Because they are so mild they provide a whole new flavor in recipes. And water is no exception. So if you need to boost your immune system and quench your thirst, try marinating some Meyer slices overnight in a pitcher in the fridge. You never know - you might just forget all about those sugary sodas... I'm jus' sayin'!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

12 Days of Meyer - Day 1: Preserved Meyer Lemons


After being a guest blogger on the 12 Days of Cookies series on Local Savour, it got me thinking about how great it would be to do my own "12 Days" theme. However, what to do it on? I thought that cookies, desserts, crafts and such had all been done. What's a grits girl to do?


Before I had a chance to figure out a theme, a freeze warning came across the news which meant there was early harvesting to be had. By harvesting, I mean that our beautiful Meyer lemon tree that was over-loaded with fruit had to be picked so that the freeze would not ruin them.  So my sweet husband started picking.  I made room on the kitchen table and bowl after bowl and basket after basket were handed to me. After the first round of 400 (yep that's what I said, 400) he called it a night as darkness set in. The next day he picked over 100 more.  We left another 100 or more on the tree because they were not quite ripe enough, setting up a small heat lamp and wrapping the tree in Christmas lights with the hope it would make a difference.

500 lemons, could a girl be any more blessed?  My tequila guy will be taking his share of these pretty yellow globes for our annual batch of Limoncello.  I will juice as many as my freezer will hold.  I will barter with some of my lovely food-blogger friends.  Some will be given as gifts to neighbors. Then I will feel satisfied knowing that this sweet little tree that is perhaps 20 years old and traveled with us from California, has fully blessed us. With that blessing, I feel it only right and respectful to do a 12 Days of Meyer series, I'm jus' sayin'!


Day 1: Preserved Meyer Lemons
Recipe can be found on this post - http://girlgonegrits.blogspot.com/2010/01/lemon-twist.html

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sweet Lemon I'm in love.


I was just recently asked to guest blog on a lovely blogger friend's site. It's always such an honor to be asked to do this. Elizabeth is one of those absolutely amazing ladies who you would definitely like to have over for tea. In fact, I hope this year to spend more time getting to know her even more. If you get a chance, go check out her blog LocalSavour and read her 12 Days of Christmas Cookies series. Each cookie is as unique as the guest bloggers that are sharing. Below is my submission.


During the holidays my daughter and I love to sip tea. It’s always been a favorite pastime and when it’s super crazy during the holidays, tea is the perfect thing to slow us down and allow us to savor all of the holiday joy instead of pulling our hair out trying to get to the next event. Of course, this experience is more than just enjoying a pot of hot tea. There are also the wonderful treats that tend to be served with it. One of my favorites is shortbread, which is also always on our Christmas cookie list. Its delicate crunch and slightly sweet flavor is perfect for gift giving, cookie swaps, Santa’s plate or a hot steaming cup of tea. Another treat in our house, or I should say in our garden this time of year, is fruit from our bountiful Meyer lemon tree. Most of the lemons are set a side for the traditional limoncello that we make every year. However, our tree is usually quite plentiful so we have enough for many other lemon treats. This shortbread highlights the Meyer lemon without being too sweet or too tart. The lavender is a pleasant surprise that brings perfect balance. After all, isn’t balance what we are all trying to achieve this time of year? I’m jus’ sayin’!



Meyer Lemon Shortbread with a Meyer Lemon Lavender Drizzle

•   1 ½ Cups of Butter
•   1 Cup of Coconut Sugar
•   3 Tbsp of Fresh Meyer Lemon Juice
•   The Zest of 1 Meyer Lemon (about 1 Tbsp)
•   3 ½ Cups of Flour
•   ¼ Tsp of Kosher Salt

Mix the Butter and the sugar together until combined. Add the zest, juice, flour and salt. Beat until combined. Dough should be able to pull together to make 2 balls of dough. Flatten each ball into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350.

Roll one disk out to ¼ of an inch thick. Cut into desired shapes. I did rectangles and triangles. You could also use a cookie cutter. Place each cookie onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Allow room between each cookie. Prick with a fork a couple times on top of each cookie to allow even rising. Bake 10-12 minutes (depending on your oven). Watch the edges and remove from oven when golden. Do not over-brown your shortbread. Cool on a rack.

Drizzle Lemon Glaze on top of cookie, then sprinkle edible lavender on top before glaze sets.

Meyer Lemon Glaze
In a small bowl, combine the following (except for the Lavender)
1 Cup of Icing Sugar (Powdered Sugar)
3 Tbsp of Fresh Meyer Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp of Meyer Lemon Zest
2 Tbsp of Culinary (Edible) Lavender for Garnish

Stir like crazy. If it seems like there’s not enough juice, keep stirring - it will come together. When it is a thick drizzle, you can spread on cooled shortbread. Or fill a small zip-lock bag, snip the corner and pipe a drizzle on top of each cookie.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Chocolate Caliente



I remember the first time I had Mexican hot chocolate. It was at my dear friend Martha's home when she asked me to stir the pot of chocolate that was on her stove. I took the whisk to the pot of creamy delicious dark elixir and as I stirred, I could smell the cinnamon and chocolate dancing together. After taking a sip of what I'd been stirring, I realized right then that I had been missing out on a truly unique cultural experience. Martha also liked to add coffee to her cocoa to make a delicious Mexican Mocha. Over the years, Martha taught me so much about her heritage and the art of Mexican cuisine and I am forever grateful for the time she spent with me, planting the seeds in me to learn more. Now that sugar is not my first go-to option, I have to change things up a bit - or should I say "spice" things up a bit. It's a challenge at times, but thanks to these memories, I have somewhere to start... I'm jus' sayin'!


Because I am now following a low glycemic lifestyle, I am constantly trying to take my favorite recipes and revamp them to work within my dietary framework. I searched the internet for a recipe for chocolate and came across this delightful recipe from "Chocolate Covered Katie". (If you have never seen her blog, I highly recommend it. She has lots of low-glycemic recipes for some favorite and traditional dishes and treats.) I added some flavors to this one to recreate that Mexican-flavored chocolate and because I can't have Stevia, I opted to use agave instead. It made for a softer, more "ganache" texture. When I made a batch using Stevia, however, it had much more of a crisp snap to it.

Low Glycemic Mexican Haute Chocolate Bars
Adapted from: Three-Ingredient Chocolate Bars: Chocolate Covered Katie

In a bowl combine the following:

  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 4 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil (melted)
  • 1/4 cup agave syrup
  • 1 pinch of chipotle powder (depending on taste you can add more)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon





Pour into molds. I used a recycled plastic apricot container I got from Costco for the Stevia chocolate. For the agave, I used some vintage tart molds I sprayed with cooking spray. You could use any plastic candy molds.




Chocolate Drops made with Stevia




When I melted it to make my Mexican Haute Chocolate, I used 4 oz of the agave chocolate bar and 6 oz of Coconut Almond Milk. I brought it to a simmer and whisked it vigorously. I then poured them into mugs to serve.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Side x Side Thankfulness


It's time for the big, all-you-can-eat, comfort food bash. Whatcha bringing to the table?  Some of y'all have your standby's that you grew up with.  Others will make dishes based on diets and allergies.  Whether this is your first time putting on the big dinner and you feel confident trying all new recipes or you're making the traditional dishes again this year, the Thanksgiving meal has become more than simply a turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce.

This year for our dinner we will have the best of both worlds - "combined comfort" is what I'm calling it. We will start with the usual deep-fried turkey that my guy cooks up and I'll make his favorite roasted garlic chorizo dressing. But the rest will be a challenge, as I plan to create sides and desserts that have all the flavor and pizazz that the family has come to expect, yet also be low glycemic/low fat to fit into my dietary regiment. I am not about to give up on the feeling of comfort that my all-time favorite holiday meal brings me, but at the same time, I don't plan on adding any extra pounds to the scale either!  I've worked too hard to get this far... I'm jus' sayin'!

Here's a few of the recipes I'll be making...




Roasted Green Beans and Mushrooms
(In place of the Green Bean/Cream of Mushroom Soup Casserole)

Preheat oven to 350
In a large zip-lock bag, place 4 cups of snipped green beans and 2 cups of mushrooms (cleaned and quartered). Pour 4 tbs. of good balsamic vinegar and 2 tbs. of olive oil into the bag. Shake to cover all. Spread out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle a pinch of Kosher salt and 1 tsp. of Herbs de Provence over the top. Bake for 15 minutes or until roasted to your liking.



Coconut Pumpkin Panna Cotta
(Gives you a Pumpkin Pie fix without the guilt)

3 cups canned coconut milk
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (organic suggested)
1/2 cup coconut sugar (may use more if not sweet enough to your taste)
2 tsp. of vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 packets powdered gelatin (about 4 1/2 tsp.)
6 tbsp. (90ml) cold water
*Chopped dates and coconut to garnish

In a small bowl bloom the gelatin in the 6 tbsp. of water. Set aside.

In a large heavy pot, combine the milk, pumpkin, sugar and spices. Whisk with a wire whisk to combine them all. Taste to see if it is sweet enough - add more sugar or agave syrup as necessary. Bring to a simmer. When slight bubbles start to form on the outside of liquid, take off of heat. Stir in vanilla. Gently incorporate the "bloomed" gelatin and whisk until melted, making sure you have no lumps. Pour liquid into desired molds. Depending on your mold size you may have anywhere from 6-8 servings. Chill at least 4 hours before inverting on a plate and garnishing with chopped dates and coconut.



This next dish came to me this week from my friend Jette. She knows I am following a stricter diet and healthier lifestyle these days and thought I would be interested in this particular chef. His name is Chef Alain Braux. He is an amazing holistic nutritionist that really knows his stuff. He is a trained French chef that specializes in making gluten-free desserts from scratch. He is the Author of How to Lower Your Cholesterol with French Gourmet FoodLiving Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food and Healthy French Cuisine for Less Than $10/Day.

I decided to try out his French pasta dish. I chose a quinoa pasta that was pretty bland. However, the sauce is so packed with flavor that the pasta was merely a vessel to hold the rich and flavorful sauce. Because the dish was so easy to make, I could see this as a delicious and easy alternative side to have on Thanksgiving Day. I also thought it would be a super quick dish to whip-up to have with some of that leftover turkey. Either way, I highly recommend you check out his site and try this tasty dish.

Provencal-Style Macaroni
By Chef Alain Braux
(This is a nice change from macaroni and cheese, and a lot healthier)

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cooking Time: 15 min.
This recipe is gluten-free. Can be made CF

INGREDIENTS
12 oz gluten-free macaroni
3 qt water
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 lb ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded or 1 can (28 oz) organic crushed tomatoes with basil
1 tbsp. Herbes de Provence blend
Sea salt and Pepper to taste
Parmesan or alternative cheese to sprinkle

PROCEDURE
1. In a large pot, cook your pasta al dente. Drain and rinse.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a pot. Sauté the onions and garlic with the salt until light brown. Add the crushed tomatoes with basil and the Herbes de Provence. Cook for 15 minutes until the flavors are well blended.
3. Add to pasta. Toss gently. Serve. Sprinkle with parmesan or alternative cheese.



Spicy Cranberry Walnut Compote

3 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup of dried cranberries
1 large orange (juice and zest)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1/4 tsp. chipotle powder
1/2 cup of coconut sugar
1/3 cup of water
1 tsp. vanilla (I used Mexican vanilla)

Combine all of the above (except for the vanilla) into a pan. Bring to a boil. As soon as the berries start to pop, lower heat to simmer. Simmer for 6 minutes until a thick consistency (to your liking) is made. Take off heat and add the vanilla. Store in mason jars or a beautiful serving bowl in your fridge until you are ready for your Thanksgiving meal. I plan on serving some of mine on a whole grain cracker with a smear of Laughing Cow cheese as an appetizer.






I know that salad is probably the last side you want on Thanksgiving when you have so many other sides to choose from. Try taking persimmons, those beautiful orange globes now in the super market's produce section, and add them to your spinach salad. My plan is to eat a larger portion of salad so that I only have room for a small piece of pie later. Learning all these tactics from Transitions has made these life changes for better living so much easier. Here's wishing y'all a very blessed Thanksgiving.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Welcome Autumn



Our little Catahoula "Gypsy"


Even empty chairs in the corner get spruced up for Fall


Our mantle is adorned with a Lance Carter original
You can find more of his amazing photos here.



By just adding some artificial leaves, you can gussy up those window treatments in a flash


My kitchen table


Our front porch

In the Garden. Everything is in Full Bloom. Our Giant Meyer Lemon Tree
Very soon, these beautiful yellow globes will become Limoncello