Saturday, March 29, 2014

Weekend Real Talk: Diabetes

Hey, guys.

I know this is a cooking and food blog, and I know this post has little to do with food, but could you bare with me for a post, and read about something that is very close to me?  You might learn something!

Please?  There's a picture of my cat involved!

Good.  Thanks for sticking around.  (Even if it is just for the cat.)

As you may or may not know, I have Type 1 diabetes.  A lot of people don't really know what that is, not really.  Most people have heard of diabetes, but I'm going to go ahead and guess that if you don't know someone with Type 1, or if you don't have it yourself, when you think of the word "diabetes," you're probably thinking of Type 2 diabetes.

I'm not here to explain the difference between the two (although if you have questions, I really do love answering those questions from people who know that they don't know, and they want to educate themselves.  I also wrote a post for a website back in 2012 about living with diabetes, and the ignorant things people sometimes say to me about it, and if you're interested, it's here.)

That's not the point of this post, though.

There's a blog I follow, and the writer did a post about sweets on Thursday.  The post started off like this, copy-pasted exactly:

"I have a sweet tooth, a really big sweet tooth.  If I went to the doctor and he told me I was diabetic, I would scream.  And my expression would be like this.
Can I live without sweets, yes I can.  Do I want to live without sweets, absolutely not?"
 I don't know what this person's expression would be like, because they didn't include a picture or anything, but I assume the intent was that the expression would be something like this:



Which, incidentally, was my face after reading that intro.

The post, if you wondered, was a list of the blogger's favorite sweets.  Cool.

But I have had it, absolutely had it with people using diabetes as either a punchline or as a Worst Case Scenario.

If you've followed this blog for any period of time, you know I don't shy away from sweets or carbs.  I love them.  I, too, have a monumental sweet tooth.

I've been a Type 1 diabetic for almost 25 years, and for those 25 years, I've been eating. . .pretty much what I feel like eating.

There's a caveat here.  Would my blood sugar levels be under tighter control if I completely gave up carbs and sweets, and all those lovely things?  Absolutely, it would.  My point is, though, there's nothing saying I can't have these things.  There's no Diabetes Rule saying, "Once you're diagnosed as diabetic, you can no longer eat ANY SWEETS EVER AGAIN."  That's simply not true.

It's one of those Diabetes Myths that are floating around.  It's along the same lines as "If you eat that, you'll get diabetes."  Come on, people.

Diabetes, Type 1 or Type 2 or gestational or LADA or whatever, is a serious disease.  Every type of diabetes is different, but why would any of them give you a license to mock it or say "At least I don't have that!"?

If you want to know, my experience with Type 1 sometimes borders on the terrifying.  There are days when my blood sugar has been so out of wack and crazy that literally the last thing that crosses my mind when I go to sleep is, "I hope I wake up in the morning."  That's not funny.  No part of that is funny.

I actually did leave a comment for this blogger, letting them know that their use of diabetes as a Worst Case Scenario was not only vaguely offensive, but also wildly incorrect.

The blog entry makes light of something serious.  I can't really even begin to convey to you guys how it makes me feel when I see misinformation being blatantly spread like that.  Diabetes doesn't mean you can't eat sugar, just like the cause of Type 2 diabetes isn't always bad eating habits and lack of exercise.  (Sometimes it is, but not always.)

One other nugget of information I have is that, if you wonder, Type 1 diabetes is an Autoimmune disorder, which, in a nutshell, means that when I was 4 years old, my body saw the insulin-making cells in my pancreas and, for whatever reason, launched an attack on them, killing them off and making them not useful in the least.  That's Type 1.

I didn't make this post to shame anyone or to whine or to do anything like that.  I just want people to understand that diabetes. of any type, is not a Worst Case Scenario, and it should never, ever be used as a punchline.  Diabetes seems to be the only other disease besides AIDS that, for some reason, people think it's OK to joke about.  It's not.  It's also not the Worst Thing That Can Happen To You.

Please be aware of people around you, and if you don't know how something works, or what it's like, or anything like that, don't let your ignorance show.  Ask questions.  Do some research.  Maybe you'll come across someone some day that you can either share that information with, or that you can use your knowledge to have an intelligent conversation with.

Thanks for listening, everyone.  And I'll be back with more deliciousness on Monday.  Maybe it'll even be something with carbs.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Soup Mix Gourmet: Broccoli Cheese Soup



Every now and again, I make a recipe that I just don't know how I feel about it.  This recipe is one of those.

It wasn't bad.  It was actually pretty tasty.  But I'm not crazy about the consistency.  The amount of milk the recipe calls for (1/2 cup) is nowhere near enough.  If I would have stuck with the 1/2 cup, it would have been like eating paste.  Since I don't (generally) eat paste, that wouldn't have done at all.

I kept adding milk to it until it reached a less glue-like consistency.  I also needed to add more Tabasco than the recipe called for, and. . .I just don't know.

I would recommend trying this, and tweaking it in your own way.  Definitely have extra milk on hand, unless you enjoy eating paste.  (Which. . .no judgment here.  You do you.)


Broccoli Cheese Soup
Serves 4-6
From The Soup Mix Gourmet


Ingredients




2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups cooked broccoli
1 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp. pepper, plus more to taste
2 cans Campbell's Cream of Celery Soup
10 shakes Tabasco sauce (even this much won't make it spicy.  Trust.)
At least 1 1/2 cups milk, plus more for consistency
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened. 

Add the broccoli and season with the measured salt and pepper.  Cook for about 3 minutes.

Add the soup, Tabasco, and milk, and bring soup to a boil.  Turn the heat down to low and add both cheeses.  Stir until melted.  Add milk as needed, and salt and pepper to taste.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Soup Mix Gourmet: Old-Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese




I wasn't convinced that "old-fashioned" included a can of cheddar cheese soup, but the recipe said "The introduction of Campbell's Cheddar Cheese Soup helped to put macaroni and cheese on the culinary map," and that sounds like it could be true, so now I don't know what to believe.

It never would have occurred to me to put onions in macaroni and cheese, but man. . .it was weirdly good!

This recipe is super-simple, and great with a green salad.  You don't even have to add the onions if you don't want to!  The only thing about it was, there were no spices in the recipe, so I would recommend having salt, pepper, and maybe cayenne pepper on standby.


Old-Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 4-6
From The Soup Mix Gourmet


Ingredients



1 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup chopped onion (I love cooked onions, so I used the whole thing. Whatever you want!)
1 can Campbell's Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup
1/2 cup milk
3 cups cooked macaroni
Salt, pepper, cayenne pepper to taste (Optional)

Melt the butter in a large pan over medium heat.

Cook the onion until it is softened.

Stir in the soup, then add the milk, gradually and while stirring.  Mix in the cooked macaroni and cook until heated through.


Add whatever seasonings you want.  And. . .done!

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Soup Mix Gourmet: Friday Night Bistro Chicken


What I need to learn is professional food styling.  I know there's a way to make even ugly food look good (McDonald's does it!), but most of the time when I'm taking pictures of ugly food, it just. . .looks like ugly food.

Don't let these pictures deter you.  This chicken is SO good, and it's easy to make.

This week's cookbook is The Soup Mix Gourmet.  I really like and tend toward recipes that use fresher ingredients than a can of soup, but you know?  Sometimes, you just want to be able to throw a bunch of stuff and a can of soup in a pan, and have dinner all ready.  And that's OK.

I only made two pieces, because it's still just me I'm cooking for, but I'm including the recipe for the full amount.  The leftovers are awesome.  Also, did you guys know that Campbell's makes a canned French Onion Soup?  I had no idea! 

You may want to have some French bread or something on hand to dip in the sauce.  Just trust me on this one.


Friday Night Bistro Chicken
Serves 6 (or 3 if everyone has 2 pieces!)
Ingredients

2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil 
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt
Pepper
1/2 cup chopped shallots (regular onions are fine, too)
One 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes.  Keep the juices.
1 1/2 tsp. thyme
1 can Campbell's Condensed French Onion Soup
1 cup grated Swiss cheese (or 6 slices)
French bread, for dipping (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
In a large skillet, melt the butter and olive oil together over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle salt and pepper over the chicken to taste (I mean, don't taste it, but you know what I mean).  Pan-fry the chicken until it's golden-brown on the outside, but you don't have to cook it all the way through.
Remove chicken from the skillet and place in your baking dish.  Add shallots to the skillet, and cook until softened.  Add the tomatoes (with juice) and thyme and cook for 3 minutes or so.  Add the soup and cook for another 3 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.



Cover the chicken with cheese and pour the sauce over it.  Bake until the cheese is melted and the chicken is cooked to at least 160°F, which will take about 20 minutes.

 



Friday, March 21, 2014

Practical Paleo: Nutty Bacon Bark


Saved the best for last!  I've heard a lot of people say they're weary of Paleo because they'd have to cut everything good out of their diets.

Clearly, this is not so.

The recipe calls for sea salt, and I imagine the thicker bits of salt might make for a better contrast for these, but the kosher salt I used worked just fine.


Nutty Bacon Bark


Ingredients



1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tsp. bacon grease (or coconut oil)
1/4 cup hazelnuts (toasted, if you'd like)
4 strips cooked bacon, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or regular!)

Melt the chocolate chips, along with whatever grease you use, in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Remove and stir.  Continue microwaving in 10-second intervals, stirring after each, until chocolate is completely melted.

Spread the chocolate on parchment paper (or, if you're me without parchment paper, aluminum foil!) on a cookie sheet and set aside to cool.


When the chocolate has begun to set, but has not hardened completely, sprinkle the rest of the ingredients evenly over the top.  Allow to cool completely.  I put mine in the fridge to speed up the process.  (Also, I live in Southern California, so it was warm, and I could have been waiting a long time.)

Chop roughly before eating.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Practical Paleo: BrocCauli Chowder with Bacon



This chowder is hideous, I'm not going to lie.  However, it's tasty, and that makes up for a lot, right?

I don't have too much to say about this soup, honestly.  It's ugly, and it's good, and even though it's mostly only vegetables, I had it for dinner, and I was really full afterward.  Also, bacon.


BrocCauli Chowder with Bacon
Serves 4-ish


Ingredients


4 cups broccoli, chopped and steamed
4 cups cauliflower, chopped and steamed
2 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
4 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped


Using a blender (immersion or regular), liquefy the broccoli with half the broth until smooth.  Then, do the same with the cauliflower -- liquefy it with the other half of the broth.

Combine the soup purees in a pot over medium heat.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring to combine.  You can add more broth, 1/4 cup at a time, if the chowder is too thick.  (I ended up adding another half cup.)

Garnish with bacon.



P.S.  Totally cheated on Paleo and added cheese.



So good.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Practical Paleo: Italian Style Stuffed Peppers


I've heard a lot about the Paleo diet (pulling from Wikipedia here, it's a diet that "consists mainly of fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, eggs, vegetables, fruit, fungi, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, potatoes, refined salt, refined sugar, and processed oils") but it's not something I think I could ever do with any consistency, mostly because it takes out dairy products, and cheese is a mainstay in my day-to-day.

This week's cookbook, Practical Paleo, is actually more than a cookbook.  It gives a comprehensive breakdown of what Paleo is and isn't, and it also has meal plans set up for people with all kinds of ailments to let them know what foods will help and hinder their lives.  (There were two lists that applied to me -- Blood Sugar Regulation and Autoimmune Disorders.  They were pretty similar.)

Anyway, I won't go on about it (and I'm not going to switch over to Paleo any time soon), but it's something I would recommend looking into.  If nothing else, it gives some insight into food and what it does to us as people.

Italian Style Stuffed Peppers
Makes 3 or 4 meal-sized servings

Ingredients


2 red bell peppers, halved and cleaned
1 Tbsp. bacon grease or coconut oil (I used coconut oil.)
1/2 onion, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1 lb. ground beef

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Heat the oil (or grease) in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Saute the onions, adding salt and pepper to taste, until the onions are translucent.  Add the tomatoes and garlic and simmer for two minutes.

Add the meat to the pan and cook until done.  Add more salt and pepper if you'd like.

Place the peppers in your baking pan and spoon the mixture into each one.



Bake for 15-20 minutes.



Sorry for the ugly picture.



Friday, March 14, 2014

The Homemade Pantry: Chicken Nuggets


I haven't made a ton of recipes that I've posted on this blog that I would call life-altering.  I mean, I've made a bunch of great stuff, but few things that I went, "Wow.  Wow, wow, wow."

This, however, is a Wow Recipe.

It's super easy to go to the store, buy a box of chicken nuggets, and heat them up for dinner.  Or, even easier, to run to McDonald's and get a big old box of them.  (I'd say "for the kids," but I'm not even going to lie about how much I love chicken nuggets.)

These are actually really easy to make, and they're really good, and it's incredibly satisfying to eat a chicken nugget that. . .well, a chicken nugget that you're aware of what's in it.

A couple notes: first of all, I used Italian seasoned breadcrumbs (which I highly recommend), but you can use any kind. . .regular, homemade, whatever.

Also, you'll notice in the ingredient picture, I've included creole seasoning.  You don't have to include creole seasoning (it's not in the original recipe), but I tend to put this in everything, and just happened to include it in this picture.  It gave the chicken nuggets a nice spice. 

I'm so excited for you guys to try these.  Please, please try them!

Chicken Nuggets
Makes 30-40 nuggets



Ingredients



1 1/2 lbs. chicken breasts (or, in this case, breast tenders)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
1 tsp. salt
Oil (for the pan)
2 tsp. creole seasoning or cayenne pepper (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°F and oil your baking pan.

Cut chicken into pieces.

In a bowl, mix the mayo and lemon juice together.  Combine the breadcrumbs and spices in another bowl.

Set up your ingredients in a line, like so:


Take each piece of chicken and dip it into the mayo mixture, and then dip into the breadcrumb mixture.  Place on pan.  Once all your chicken is all covered, refrigerate the tray for 20 minutes.


Remove the chicken from the fridge and bake for 12 minutes.  Remove from the oven, flip chicken, and bake for another 12 minutes.

Remove from the oven and enjoy.  Because these are amazing.  (Especially dipped in honey!)


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Homemade Pantry: Tomato Sauce



I had wanted to own this book forever.  The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making is exactly that. . .recipes for things like baking mixes, crackers, canned goods, stuff like that.

This tomato sauce smelled really great while I was cooking it, so I was pretty excited to try it out, and I wasn't even a little disappointed.  The only thing about this, though, is that I found it wasn't as good the next day.  It was OK, but I wasn't a huge fan, so I'd recommend that you just make enough for your meal.

I deviated from the recipe a little, because I like the sauce to be chunky, but there are several ways you can do this.

Tomato Sauce
Makes 3 1/2 cups
From The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making


Ingredients




1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes, with juice
1 onion, peeled and halved, but not chopped further
4 garlic cloves, peeled, but not chopped further
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
2 tsp. dried oregano

Combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and butter in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes.  Stir occasionally to keep the bottom from scorching, and also to break up the tomatoes.




Remove the onions and all but one clove of garlic.  If you like the sauce chunky, chop up half the onion (or the whole thing if you'd like!) to put back in.

Before adding the onion back in, use an immersion blender to smooth out the sauce and the garlic clove still in the sauce.  Add the onion back in.

If you want the sauce to be super smooth, blend it, and then put it through a food mill.  (I don't know what a food mill is, actually, but that's what the recipe says!)

Friday, March 7, 2014

100th Post! Hungry Girl: 200 Under 200: Strawberry S'mores Bars



It's my 100th blog post!  Sarah Cooks the Books hit the 1-year mark back in September, but this is the official 100th post I've made.  (I can't say it's the 100th recipe, because I've had a lot of "Sorry I've been gone, guys!" and "Look what I ate in California!" posts, so maybe I should go and count how many actual recipes I've posted.  Or maybe I don't want to know.

To celebrate, I've got a dessert recipe for you!  I don't do desserts too often, for no real reason other than I just don't, but in this case, I thought it was time for some sweets. 

It's also time for a cat in a sombrero.


Party cat!

(She likes me.  I swear she likes me.)

I did that thing I do where I take a recipe, decide I could do it better, and make it into something awesome.  In this case, these:


The original recipe in the book was for "Gimme Gimme S'mores Sandwiches," but I had strawberries in the fridge, and thought, what better to add to chocolate than strawberries?

It was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

I also bumped up the ingredient amounts, because the recipe was for one serving.  What the what?  I don't even understand why you'd only want one serving of this.

I want to thank everyone who reads, who stops by, who comments. . .I appreciate everyone who is a part of my cookbook project here.  Here's to 100 more!


Strawberry S'mores Bars
Makes 7


Ingredients



7 sheets of graham crackers (Yes, I know there are only 4 in the picture.)
1 cup Cool Whip, thawed
2 large strawberries, chopped
1/4 cup miniature marshmallows
2 Tbsp. chocolate chips


Stir together Cool Whip, marshmallows, chocolate chips, and strawberries.

Break your graham cracker sheets in half and set 7 of the pieces on a plate.  Top with the Cool Whip mixture.


Top with the other 7 pieces of graham cracker.  Push them down enough to stick, but don't smoosh out all your filling.


Freeze until solid, an hour and a half or so.  Save any leftovers in a sealed container.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Hungry Girl: 200 Under 200: It's All Greek To Me Scramble



I want to apologize in advance for the following photos.  They're. . .not great?  The food itself was so tasty, but it's ugly, and, as it turns out, my blood sugar was 48 when I took the ingredient picture.  (If you're not familiar with Type 1 diabetes, just suffice it to say that's not good, and the picture's a pretty good indicator of how I was feeling.)

Here's my issue with this recipe.  I know the whole Hungry Girl thing is low-calorie/low-fat foods and all that, but. . .you can just use normal eggs for this!  I don't know why it didn't occur to me earlier, but I was measuring everything out for this recipe, and I thought, ". . .why am I using fake eggs?  I had real eggs in the fridge, and didn't have to buy this fake stuff."

That being said, you can use real eggs or fake eggs.  Even with the fake eggs, this was really good.

Additionally, the recipe called for 6 grape tomatoes, but I didn't want to buy a whole thing of tomatoes just to use 6 of them.  They would have gone bad, as has been the case most of the times I've bought grape tomatoes for something.

Also, I used a specific kind of feta cheese that already had spices in it, and I highly recommend that for this recipe.  It wasn't reduced-fat like the cookbook indicated.  C'est la vie.

It's All Greek To Me Scramble
Serves 1
From Hungry Girl: 200 Under 200

Ingredients


1/2 cup liquid egg substitute (or 2 real, live eggs, scrambled)
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (I used Trader Joe's Crumbled Feta with Mediterranean Herbs.  I recommend this 100%, and they did not pay me to say that.)
1 small to medium tomato, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 Tbsp. oil for the pan (I used coconut oil.)
Salt and pepper to taste
(If you didn't use a seasoned feta, you'll want some basil or garlic powder or oregano to spice as well.)

Heat the oil in your pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and tomato (and spices if you're using them), stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes or so.

Add your fake eggs (or real eggs!) and scramble for 2-3 minutes until cooked through.

Move your eggs to your plate and top with the feta.

That's it!  Really easy, and really good.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Hungry Girl: 200 Under 200: Buffalo Chicken Chop Salad Wrap

I started getting the Hungry Girl emails back in. . .2004 or so.  She has since gotten a TV show in the Cooking Channel and has put out several cookbooks.  I believe this one is the second one she put out.

Now, I have to tell you.  I kind of changed this one a lot.  All of the ingredients are the same, but I changed the ratios.  But it was awesome!

It didn't take very long to make.. .but apparently it was long enough to bore my cat.



Oh yeah! I got a cat.  I named her Zelda (after both the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald AND the original Nintendo princess.)  I adopted her from a shelter, and she's almost 2.  (Her birthday is May 5, which I have dubbed Zelda de Mayo.)




Anyway, cooking bores my cat, apparently.

Hopefully, it won't bore you.

Buffalo Chicken Chop Salad Wrap
Serves 1
Adapted from Hungry Girl: 200 Under 200


Ingredients


2 small tortillas
4 oz. cooked chicken, chopped
2 cups shredded lettuce
1 Tbsp. Sriracha sauce (or other hot sauce)
2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. light sour cream

Put chicken in a microwave safe dish.  Top with hot sauce and cheese and stir until chicken is coated.  Microwave for 45 seconds.

Lay tortillas flat and spread each with sour cream down the center.  Place the lettuce in the center of the tortilla and stop with the chicken mixture.


Wrap the tortilla.  Enjoy, because it's delicious.