I had the pleasure of attending a French Croissant Workshop last week. It was the first step in crossing off a goal on my life bucket list: make chocolate croissants from scratch. To find out how Gina’s adventure READ MORE.
Anita Stafford: Chocolate Kiss Bundt Cake
At holiday time I am often desperate for help in the kitchen. If you stop by to visit while I’m cooking, you may find yourself wearing an apron, and I’m not picky about age or gender. I handed the recipe for this chocolate bundt cake to an eleven-year-old boy. I was up to my neck preparing casseroles, and I was running out of time to finish the baking. He had never baked a cake before, and he did an amazing job. He’s my official sous chef now. His cake was the centerpiece for the dessert table. I think it has everything that makes a cake perfect. It’s easy, it’s pretty, and it’s chocolate. For the recipe READ MORE
Keisha McKinney: Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice
The weather got cool this week. The afternoon sun is perfection. My yard is covered with leaves and the colors they are a changing. All that means is when I’m on Pinterest and I see anything pumpkin, my eyeballs turn to hearts and I get all googly eyed!!!
Such was the case last week when I ran across a new pumpkin bread recipe from the Domestic Rebel. Baby cravings have me eating all kinds of weird things at odd times, but in the middle of the afternoon I decided it was time to make a treat we could eat after dinner that night….. so I did. READ MORE
Lydia Sartain: Beyond Easy Pumpkin De-Lite
I get it, half of you are like enough already lady, we get it. YOU LOVE pumpkin, while the other half is stoked every time they see the work pumpkin in a title. Well I will try to tame my pumpkin wand after this recipe! MAYBE….READ MORE
Mel Lockcuff and Debbie Arnold: Published on Key Ingredients
Once upon a time, Mom would chop up a head of iceberg, throw on some mayo and call it a salad. Maybe toss in a chopped tomato for a special occasion. Salad was always a bridesmaid, never a bride. Seen, but not heard. In the chorus, not the star. You get the idea – boring!
I did not think I would fall into the continued excitement over the “Sweet Potato Brownies”, in fact I laughed with a good friend about how they sound more like “Frownies, fake brownies”. The truth is the recipe has been around for a while but for some reason just now caught everyone’s attention on social media and Pinterest. I decided I needed to try them for myself and see if they were worth all the fuss. READ MORE
What causes that beckoning aroma after a rain? What causes the alluring fragrance of fresh-plowed soil? What causes the enticing earthy spice in beets?
Geosmin! (Say: GEE oze min.)
Geosmin is a bicyclic alcohol, responsible for transforming common things such as rain, into perfume.
You wouldn’t think it would also create the muddy taste that sometimes occurs in catfish, but it does.
Don’t worry! It won’t harm you any more than tipping up your face and catching Spring raindrops on your tongue.
But mostly, we don’t exactly prefer it in our catfish, do we?
They say to avoid it in fish we should hook them during cool weather, remove any dark-colored flesh, soak the rest in milk or vinegar, and several other tactics.
Scientists predict the vinegar actually could work, because geosmin breaks down when exposed to acid. But wouldn’t the fish taste pickled? And doesn’t milk include acid? I vote for milk!
However, once that part is over you know you must dredge catfish in cornmeal or coat it in a heavy batter; deep fry it in peanut oil; also fry breaded onion rings, French fries, and hush puppies (which are blobs of cornmeal mush stuff left over from breading or battering things). Then you can sit down and eat all that greasy food, most of which is heavily loaded with carbohydrates, a bad mix for many diets, these days.
I wanted something different. (I’m from the north, y’all!)
Since in our family, we all like to eat fish and don’t even mind enjoying a bit of catfish on occasion, I decided to invent a recipe for frying catfish that would be more health-giving for us. I love inventing recipes! I decided to pan fry on a lower heat and to use a health-friendlier oil, plus a breading that is low in carbohydrates.
The first task was to pick the breading ingredients. After considering coconut flour, almond flour, soy flour, flax meal, and whole wheat, I decided to go with whole almond flour. I reasoned that if we did not like something that mild, we certainly would not appreciate all the rest, and definitely not a mixture.
After that, I had to decide upon an oil. The first time I made this dish, I used olive; the second time I tried coconut oil. I suppose I’ll make this many times, to decide finally, but right now I’m leaning toward olive oil.
Then, to replace the carb-high potatoes and corn, I wanted to try marrow squash, also known as “spaghetti squash”. We’d enjoyed it merely buttered, and a few times supporting various Italian sauces. This would be an enormous departure from the traditional Southern experience, but a food adventure I was ready to try.
Finally, to round it off, I chose good ol’ low-glycemic, vitamin-loaded sweet potatoes. Boiled and buttered, they are one of our favorite go-to sides.
I had to buy the squash. Although it is easy enough to grow in Arkansas, and keeps quite well in a cool dark place, the deer have attacked our gardens with great gusto the last couple of years. I’m happy for their dietary enrichment, but I’m about to join our neighbor down the highway, who has fenced his garden with ten-foot chain link topped with razor wire.
I kid you not. The critters are thick around here.
But back to the kitchen!
Steaming a marrow squash is easy enough to do if you own a steamer. Just quarter, remove the seeds and excess membrane, and place it in the steamer over boiling water to simmer for about 20 minutes, or until fork-tender.
The difficult part is opening it before cooking, and that can be a mildly dangerous task if you don’t know how. I use a large knife that is recently sharpened, and watching out for my fingers, I aim for the center, chopping the squash once with the sharp edge of the knife. It usually cuts about ½” deep into the fruit. At that point, I can lift the knife, which is jammed hard into the squash, and the squash lifts with it. Taking care to keep fingers in safe places, I raise the knife, heavy with the squash, about four inches and then bang the squash, with the knife in it, down hard on the cutting board. I may have to repeat, but this works well. Once you have it in halves, clean out the seeds and loose fibers. Then quartering it is surprisingly easy.
I like to multi-task when I’m cooking, so I usually start the squash steaming before I work on the other parts of the recipe. That way the squash can have time to cool for handling, and then be warmed again before serving.
Another word of caution, this time about releasing the “spaghetti” from the cooked squash shell: It must be cooled, first. There are very few ways to handle a piece of food that is boiling hot. Potholders, I found, will soak through and can scald you. I’ve used tongs before, but that’s awkward. It really is best to let the squash cool on a plate, flesh-side up, about ten minutes, shred it out of the shell, and then reheat the “spaghetti”.
If you have more of the squash than you need, for this meal, it is delicious when reheated, with or without a chopped green onion and some pepper, in a buttered pan with a lid. Add a bit of cream and shredded cheddar cheese at the last minute, and it makes another lovely, and very quick, side for low-carb enjoyment.
The recipe shown here includes four catfish filets. It was a lot for two people to eat, really, but I was hoping for left-overs.
Katharine Trauger: Low-carb Pan-fried Catfish Over Marrow Squash
"4 large (aproximately 4 ounce) catfish filets
2 cups milk
1 marrow squash (spaghetti squash)
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup olive oil or cooking oil of choice
1 egg, beaten
4, ¼” slices of onion
Salt to taste
1/2 cup additional almond flour, if needed
½ cup Chardonnay, Chablis, or white Zinfandel "
Thaw (or soak) filets in milk for 4 hours in refrigerator.
Wash squash. Cut in half. Scoop out seeds and loose membrane. Cut into quarters or eighths. Steam 20 minutes or until flesh separates easily. Allow to cool ten minutes or to handling temperature. Remove flesh and arrange on ovenproof platter and keep in 150 degree oven.
Remove fish from milk. Rinse and drain.
Mix almond flour and pepper in shallow dish such as a pie plate.
Heat oil in non-stick skillet to “splatter” temperature.
Coat one filet in egg, then in almond flour/pepper mix.
Place one onion slice in oil in pan and top with one coated filet.
Repeat for each filet/onion slice.
Fry filets on onion slices, uncovered, for about 7 minutes. Turn filets with onion slices, allowing onion to rest on filet. Salt lightly
Fry until filet separates easily.
Remove filets to top the squash on platter. Return platter to warm oven.
Pour most of hot oil into heat-proof container to cool, being careful to keep as much pan residue in pan as possible. Try to retain only about two tablespoons of oil in pan.
Return pan to heat, bringing to medium-high temperature. Stir in remaining almond flour left from breading filets, and stir constantly to brown slightly. If no flour is remaining, stir in 1/2 cup additional almond flour and brown. Immediately de-glaze pan with wine, continuing stirring until slightly thickened.
Pour sauce over filets and squash. Serve immediately.
Multitasking Note: If you desire to serve the sweet potato as a side with this dish, peel, slice, and boil 1/2 potato for each serving, while steaming squash, then keep warm in ovenproof dish with lid, in warm oven with squash.
Katharine Trauger is a retired educator and a women’s counselor. She has spent 25 years managing a home and school for children who would otherwise have been homeless, and has worked 15 years as contributor and/or columnist for several small professional magazines, with over 60 published articles. She blogs about the rising popularity of “being at home” from a sun room on a wooded hilltop in the Deep South at: Home’s Cool! and The Conquering Mom and tweets at Katharine Trauger (@KathaTrau). She is currently working on a self-help book entitled: Yes, It Hurts, But . . .
There is such a thing called season fatigue. It happens when one season is ending and another begins. Let’s be honest, the fatigue sets in about a month before the new season actually begins. You know that itchy feeling you get when you are ready for fall?
You are done with mowing the grass, washing bug splatters off the windshield, and you find yourself wearing a sweater to work because the weatherman said that it will be in the low 80s today. Think about that. If it is springtime and the weatherman says low 80s, the shorts and tank are donned faster than you can say Off! mosquito spray.
As we tiptoe into the cooler waters of fall, there are a few areas of summer we may still want to hold on to and linger a while before we let them go. The slowing down of summertime we enjoy such as eating outside, grilling, nibbling on smaller plates and chilling over longer conversations.
For today’s foodie Friday, I got to thinking. What would be better than to share a dinner idea that has us transitioning from summer to fall? The ingredients really can be anything but should follow along this format:
GRILLING + SUMMER STAPLE + FALL INGREDENT = #summer2fall
It’s that simple really. I can’t wait to hear what combinations you come up with or dream up. By all means, comment before you actually make dinner. Just be sure to come back and share a photo or two. We’re in this together.
How does a grilled tostada with grilled sweet potatoes and grilled chicken sound, to get you started?
When I was a kid, my mom made runny, undercooked, boring scrambled eggs. I decided to take matters in my own hands and learned how to 1) make dry scrambled eggs and 2) kicked it up a notch and learned how to make cheese omelets. Never again did I have runny, undercooked, boring scrambled eggs. Thanks mom!
What is your favorite international cuisine?
slow food from France and Italy
I like the country rustic fare from just about anywhere: fresh fish plucked from the sea, lightly but perfectly seasoned, wine with brie and fruit and long conversations, and whole chicken simmered in broth with garlic. I can appreciate fancy food yet I fall in love with simplicity that is delicious.
What is always in your refrigerator at home?
good, grass-fed butter
whole whipping cream
large curd cottage cheese
whole milk plain yogurt
minced garlic in a jar (what, you didn’t think I always mince my own garlic, did you?)
What is your go-to ingredients that you use time and time again?
When you’re not cooking, what are your favorite pastimes?
kayaking, fishing or just hanging out in the lake, remodeling, landscaping, going for drives with my husband and hanging out with family.
What else would you like us to know about you? I need a clutter-free zone to function properly.
Arkansas Women Blogger member Lyndi Fultz writes about living and eating well from her life in beautiful Northwest Arkansas at nwafoodie. Much of her blogging inspiration comes from this gem of a place, which she refers to as the proverbial land of milk-and-honey. Read more related to cooking, entertaining, gadget suggestions, ingredient explorations, local finds, local restaurant treasures, kitchen tour spotlights, and always with a healthy and simplistic approach.
My sister has a husband who is willing to try almost any kind of food – lucky her! Or, maybe it’s lucky him, since she is one of the best cooks I know. She is not afraid to experiment, loves to create her own recipes, and she makes bread from scratch too. I’m a little jealous of her kitchen skillz. Or, more accurately, the time and inclination she has to spend in the kitchen. Feel free to join me in directing some long-distance envious thoughts to the Pacific Northwest…
When she does make amazing food, she usually sends me a text with a picture of said food, and I always vow to pull out a notebook and start creating meal plans and utilizing the dozen or so cookbooks collecting dust in my kitchen. And I do that once, maybe twice, before falling back into the same old rut.
But once in a while I throw some things together in a crock pot that are deserving of accolades and the recording of the process and ingredients. This recipe is a result of one of those times. Don’t let the color throw you off, this concoction is savory and delicious and freezes brilliantly, making it a great make-ahead option.
On top of this soup being delicious, it is super simple and inexpensive to make. So, let’s get to the serious business. And feel free to share photos on social media when you make it yourself – you deserve to be on the receiving end of envious thoughts just as much as my sister.
Creamy Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Parsnips
1 clove garlic, riced or smashed and finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon curry powder
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon allspice
2 cups vegetable broth (chicken broth can be substituted, if desired)
Soak the lentils as directed on the package, preparing for cooking. (I used yellow lentils, but any color is fine.)
Drain the lentils and put them into a slow cooker with all of the remaining ingredients.
Cook on your slow cooker’s low setting for six to eight hours, until lentils and other veggies are soft and mashable.
Ladle soup into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth – it should only take a few seconds. Be sure to put the lid on the blender, even if it’s making a weird noise. Trust me on this. Depending on the size of your blender, you might have to do this step in a couple of batches.
Serve your soup in a lovely handmade or vintage bowl, sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese, and enjoy it with some crusty bread.
If you prefer your vegetables with a little more protein, add some sausage to the mix, but it is thick and savory enough to satisfy most folks without.
By Laurie Marshall
Arkansas Women Bloggers http://arkansaswomenbloggers.com/
In addition to her love for a perfectly turned phrase, Laurie Marshall has a passion for reusing and repurposing, and may get a little too excited about power tools and the wall of paint chips at her local home improvement store. She graduated from the BA program in Creative Writing at the University of Arkansas in 2007 at the ripe old age of 39, and after spending six years working at a desk job (that she loved!), she took the leap and began her freelancing career. Her work has been published on VisitRogersArkansas.com, TasteArkansas.com, NWAMedia.com, and in AY Magazine and Do South, among others. @LaurieMMarshall
Laurie lives in Northwest Arkansas where her mother was a majorette in the high school band and her grandmother inspired her love for homemade and handmade. She is spoiled by the availability of locally-grown foods in her community. Being the decision-maker for dinner every night wears her out, but, thanks to Food Network, she still enjoys experimenting with new flavors and concoctions. She prides herself on the fact that no one has gotten ill after eating her food.