Thursday, March 31, 2011

KITCHEN KREATION: (Healthier version) Southern-Smothered Cabbage


I have been having the most insane craving for smothered cabbage lately. So a couple of nights ago, I decided to try a healthier version. The hubby and I are on this new eating plan where I am strictly limiting our carbs, sugar and salt intake and amping up our water, protein, fruits, & vegetables. So far so good. Hubby just told me this morning that he thinks he can get used to this new way of eating. I'm sure he can since he's been losing like crazy. I think the current tally is hubby: negative 7 pounds, me: negative 4. Dang it! (Readers, y'all will quickly learn that I am one of the most competitive people I know. I blame it on the type A personality that I have in abundance! LOL)

For me, since I am such a carbaholic, limiting the amount of carbs per day to just once per day has been the hardest thing for me. I am really liking how we are eating more fruits and veggies though so of course that is always a good thing. I am also discovering my insane love of fresh mango. Who knew mangoes were so doggoned delicious??? I'm sitting here salivating like one of Pavlov's dogs just thinking about them. Yumm!!!

So anyway, back to the cabbage. LOL!
I switched my standard pork polish sausage for turkey polish sausage, severely reduced the salt amount & added some Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb seasoning. I also switched out the butter for "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" and in a much smaller amount considering the amount of cabbage that was in my skillet. All in all, I have to say it turned out pretty good. It wasn't as insanely fattening as my normal cabbage, nor was it as seasoned as I'm used to, but like hubby said, I think I can get used to it. So anyway, here is the new recipe. Hope you enjoy!

INGREDIENTS
3-4 lb. cabbage
1 package Louis Rich Turkey Polish Sausage
1/2 cup chopped onion (more or less based on your preference)
1 clove minced garlic
1 Tbsp "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" Light
1/2 tsp Tony Cachere's Creole Seasoning (more or less to taste, based on your preference)
2-3 tsp Mrs. Dash seasoning - Garlic & Herb (again, according to your taste)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
Butter flavored cooking spray
1/2 cup water


DIRECTIONS
  1. Chop cabbage into smaller strips, rinse, & drain.
  2. Chop turkey polish sausage into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Heat large skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
  4. Spray skillet with cooking spray.
  5. When heated, saute onion until tender.
  6. Add garlic, saute until fragrant, stirring frequently to avoid burning the garlic.
  7. Add turkey polish sausage to mixture. May want to add more cooking spray since it will not produce any oil like the regular polish sausage.
  8. When turkey polish sausage has cooked, add cabbage to skillet. Stir well to mix.
  9. Add water to skillet.
  10. Cover skillet with lid and turn heat down to low.
  11. Allow to "smother" for 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure you are not scorching the bottom pieces and so the top pieces are touched by the yummy garlic, onion, and meat mixture.
  12. When cabbage is tender, add "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter", Tony Cachere's Creole Seasoning, Mrs. Dash seasoning, black and red pepper. Stir well.
  13. Return lid to skillet and allow to steam for 5-10 more minutes. Cabbage should be tender. Be sure to keep checking. You want your cabbage tender, not mushy. Adjust time according to your preference.
  14. Enjoy!

Friday, March 25, 2011

TGIF Music Blast: Chester Gregory - If U Only



Introducing Chester Gregory's new single, "If U Only" available for free download here. It is such a soulful song that anyone who has ever been in a relationship that didn't work out can relate to. This song has great lyrics and a great message behind the music and Chester Gregory's falsetto is downright ridiculous! Dang!

I first heard about Chester Gregory when the hubby flew me on a romantic get-away weekend trip to Nashville, TN. I wanted to see DreamGirls the musical and we had missed them when they came through Kansas City. The musical was absolutely fantastic but the person who stole every single scene that he was in was Chester Gregory who starred as Jimmy "Thunderbird" Early. He has such an amazing voice and his stage presence is phenomenal. I'm not sure if they are still touring at this time, but if you have not caught the show, you have GOT to go see it.

It was so good that I absolutely don't have any words to describe it. I think I only could have liked it more if the cast from the movie (Beyonce AND Jennifer Hudson) were in a stage production of the show. So anyway, enjoy the new video which premiered on VH1 this week. I'm excited to hear more from this wonderful artist. Take a listen & enjoy!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

KITCHEN KREATION: Key Lime Pie Cupcakes


So, I was in the mood to fix something in honor of St. Patrick's Day for the hubby and his crew on the job and I decided to find a recipe for Key Lime Pie cupcakes. I wanted something green and pretty, sweet and tart. I found this recipe online at allrecipes.com and adapted it a little bit to make it my own. I think next time I might leave the orange juice out of it so that it can be just a little bit more tart and the batter won't be quite as soupy. For my first try though, this came out to be a really delicious and moist cupcake. The designated kitchen lab rats all gave them two thumbs up and raved about how good they were.

Sorry for the not-so good picture this time. I forgot to take pictures of the pretty ones before he took them to his friends, so here are some pictures of the ones that stayed at home with us because they didn't make the cut for public consumption. LOL!
Hope you enjoy!
  • 1 box Lemon Supreme Cake Mix
  • 1 box Lime Flavored Gelatin (3 oz)
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 10 oz. of PHILADELPHIA Original Cooking Crème (Original flavor)
  • Green sugar crystals (optional)

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese
  • 2 Tbsp butter – melted
  • 4 Tbsp milk
  • 2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla flavoring
  • 4 oz Cool Whip (½ of 8 oz container)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, add in the first 8 ingredients.

3. Mix until all of the ingredients are combined.

4. Line cupcake pans with cupcake baking papers.

5. Spoon the batter into the cupcake baking papers (about 3/4 full)

6. Place the cupcakes into the oven for 23-25 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

7. When cupcakes are done, remove them from the pan and place them on a baking sheet.

8. Allow cupcakes to completely cool.

9. Garnish with Cream Cheese Frosting and green sugar crystals.

10. Enjoy!

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, here is an Irish blessing for you:
"May love & laughter light your days, & warm your heart and home.
May good & faithful friends be yours, wherever you may roam.
May peace & plenty bless your world, with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons, bring the best to you and yours."
Hope you have a wonderful day!

Friday, March 11, 2011

MUSIC BLAST: Walter Hawkins - Thank You Lord (for all you've done)



Thank God it's Friday, family!
I woke up this morning to hear about an 8.9 earthquake and resulting tsunami to hit the pacific coast, specifically along northeastern Japan and Tokyo all the way down to Hawaii. A Yahoo news posting stated, "The magnitude-8.9 offshore quake unleashed a 23-foot (seven-meter) tsunami and was followed by more than 50 aftershocks for hours, many of them of more than magnitude 6.0." It also stated that, "A tsunami warning was extended to a number of areas in the Pacific, Southeast Asian and Latin American nations, including Japan, Russia, Indonesia, New Zealand and Chile." There have been hundreds of people to die and even more are missing and unaccounted for at this time. The pictures being shown online and on the news are terrifying.

So, after praying for the people stricken by this horrible disaster, this song popped in my mind. We can't take anything for granted and we really must be appreciative of all of our blessings, the big and the small. I thank You, Lord, because it could have been me and if it had not been for Your grace and mercy and Your hedge of protection around me, I don't know where I would be. So, I thank You for keeping me and protecting me and my family, friends, and extended family and friends. I'm grateful that my husband's parents who live in Okinawa, Japan are safe and were not affected by the earthquake or the tsunami.

Let today be a day of prayer for those in need and a day to give thanks for our blessings.
Thank God it's Friday!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

KITCHEN KREATION: Low Carb Spaghetti with Homemade Sauce


I haven't posted a recipe in a while, but tonight I had the insane craving for some spaghetti. The hubby and I have been watching what we're eating lately and I thought that since we were on such a great trend, I would find a recipe on a way to make this a healthier alternative.
Enter the wonders of spaghetti squash...
(Ahhhhh)
Now, I did not grow up eating any kind of squash, so tonight is most definitely an experiment for me. On the menu will be spaghetti squash smothered with homemade spaghetti sauce. We will be having sauteed chicken as well made in a chicken parmesan style. I wasn't in the mood to go to the grocery store so we will have to make due with whatever ingredients are already in the pantry and the refrigerator.
For the spaghetti squash recipe and cooking directions, I remembered seeing a video from Monique at DivasCanCook for a "Vegetable Garden Spaghetti Made With Spaghetti Squash". She always makes everything look so incredibly delicious, so I thought, hey, it looks healthy and it looks good. We'll give it a try.
For the actual spaghetti sauce recipe, I scoured different Youtube videos in search of some direction. I watched a video by Giada from her Everyday Italian show simply titled, "Simple Tomato Sauce". I watched Chef Umberto from Everyone's Italian with his video titled, "Classic Marinara Sauce". I also watched Nicko's video for "Easy Spaghetti Sauce" and Jack's video for "How to Make Spaghetti Sauce" but both of them make their spaghetti sauce with red wine and meat in it. Since I want my sauce to go with other things and not just be a ready-made sauce for spaghetti, I decided to leave the meat out and add lots of good veggies to it. I also don't particularly like red wine, so I definitely didn't want to add it to my spaghetti sauce. As a result, the recipe I came up with is an insane combination with additions and deletions from all four videos to make my own very special "Kitchen Kreation". I'll let you know at the end of the post how it came out...


28 oz. canned Tomato Puree
28 oz. canned Crushed Tomatoes
6 oz. can Tomato Paste
6.5 oz. can Mushrooms (can use fresh if you like)
1 package McCormick Italian Spaghetti seasoning
2 cloves minced garlic
1 cup chopped onions
1 chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped bell peppers
1 cup water
2 tsp Italian Seasoning
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp olive oil

  1. Heat pot on medium heat. When pot is warmed, add olive oil to pot.
  2. Add onions, celery, and bell peppers to pot. Saute until tender.
  3. Add minced garlic to pot, saute until tender and fragrant (approx 1-2 minutes).
  4. Add carrots and mushrooms to pot. Stir well.
  5. Add tomato puree, crushed tomatoes, and tomato paste to pot.
  6. Add water and all seasonings (Italian Spaghetti seasoning, Italian seasoning, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, & bay leaf).
  7. Stir well until well incorporated. Heat to boiling.
  8. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
The spaghetti squash itself was pretty easy to make. Like I said, I followed Monique's video since I had no idea how to make a spaghetti squash. I wasn't sure if we were going to like it or not, so I did not buy a big squash. Here are the preparation steps.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Take a big knife and cut the squash in half lengthwise.
  3. Take a spoon and remove the seeds and stringy stuff in the middle of the squash until it is completely cleaned out.
  4. Then, place both halves of the squash in a casserole dish with approximately 3/4 cup water poured around the squash in the dish.
  5. Place the dish in the oven and allow to bake for 1 hour.
  6. After done, remove the squash from the oven and allow to cool.
  7. Take a fork and "rake" the squash into a clean dish to form the spaghetti strands.
  8. Pour spaghetti sauce over squash and enjoy.
Ok, taste test is complete. This turned out to be a really good meal. We also had salad, garlic bread (made with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter on sandwich thins), and sauteed chicken to go with it. Who knew eating healthy could be this good? This low-carb alternative to pasta will definitely be on the menu again. Try it, I think you'll like it. Now, I will say that it doesn't taste like pasta, but it looks like pasta and is an awesome alternative to pasta. It also tastes really great with tomato sauce. I think it has it's own taste. So, if you don't go into the meal thinking that it is going to taste just like pasta, I think you will be very pleasantly surprised.
Enjoy!

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