The Rose Cake

Well, this is a helluva way to end a Whole3o, isn’t it?

No, I didn’t taste the cake – I wasn’t so anxious to see the end of the 30 days to gluten-bomb myself.  I may be crazy, but I’m not stupid.

Oh, hush up.

Anyhoo, one of my co-workers is throwing a big bash birthday party for her oldest daughter tomorrow, so I made her a cake.  She’s in the first grade and very much a girlie-type girl, so I made her a girlie-type cake.  Which is my very favorite kind, to be honest.

The Rose Cake

The Rose Cake Detail

And on that note, we’re off to deliver the cake, then head down to Columbus for our date tonight.

Have a great weekend, y’all.

 

Squash Noodles

Last. Day.

Omigod.

Of course, today’s motivational email discusses how you should continue with the diet beyond the 30 days if you’re still experiencing cravings/haven’t seen the results you want, but I’ll address that later – perhaps tomorrow, but more likely next week.  Let’s just suffice to say that I am very proud of myself for making it the entire 30 days.

Yay, me.

As a final meal tonight, we’re having TC, my Young Diabetic Friend, over for dinner.  He and Beloved have been hoarding a couple of 6-week dry-aged grass-fed ribeye steaks – I have a beautiful bison filet with my name on it – and we’re grilling them up tonight.  I’ll make us a nice green salad and perhaps roast some okra, since it’s one of TC’s all-time favorite dishes.  We’ll have a good time, and they can help me do something with this quart of blackberries in the fridge and the rest of the half-peck of peaches that really must be used now.  I also have to bake a cake and make some gum-paste flowers for a cake I’m decorating for a little girl’s birthday, so it’s going to be a busy – but pleasant – evening.

For my last recipe of the Whole30, I’ve got something pretty darn simple.  I haven’t had pasta in over two years, but I’ve never been much of a pasta eater (I do like rice noodles in Asian dishes).  Sometimes, though, nothing beats a plate of warm, comforting spaghetti…which, when you think about it, is really more about the sauce than the noodles, anyway.

Spaghetti squash is a great substitute for pasta, but it has its drawbacks:  it can be a little on the sweet side (which I don’t really care for when it comes to a pasta dish), and when it’s out of season, it can be pretty darn expensive – in our local grocery store, winter squashes can run upwards of $2.99/lb., and most of them don’t weigh less than 3 pounds.  That’s a lot of money for a simple spaghetti dinner.

Summer squash is a great alternative, especially in the summer months when it’s so abundant and just dirt cheap.  It is also every bit as simple to prepare as a pasta substitute as spaghetti squash.  All you need is this:

Julienne Peeler
A Julienne Peeler

Photo courtesy of Oh, She Glows

Yes, that would be a julienne peeler, and it works on just about any vegetable, not just squash (just use caution when peeling particularly hard vegetables like sweet potatoes, or the peeler may slip and you’ll end up peeling more than the food…ouch).  You can pick them up just about anywhere that sells kitchen supplies; we got ours at Bed, Bath and Beyond, and you can also purchase them from Amazon.  They’re not at all expensive, and they’re dead simple to use – it’s just a vegetable peeler with teeth.

This isn’t so much a recipe as it is a technique or method – when I made this, I topped it with some of Alex’s excellent Sausage and Red Pepper Tomato Sauce that I had stashed away in the freezer, but I imagine it would be good with just about any kind of pasta sauce.

Note:  Yes, the recipe calls for an entire tablespoon of salt, then more salt at the end.  Not to worry; the salt used at the beginning of the recipe helps draw the moisture out of the squash (zucchini, in particular, holds a lot of water), and will be rinsed away.

Squash Noodles
Squash Noodles
Squash Noodles
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 3 large summer squashes, yellow or green
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ghee or clarified butter
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Using a julienne peeler, peel the squashes, including the skins, all the way down to the seeds. Discard the core.
  2. Place the strings of squash in a large bowl and toss with the tablespoon of salt; set aside for 30 minutes.
  3. Using a fine-mesh sieve, drain the liquid from the squash and rinse to remove the salt. Turn the squash noodles onto paper towels and lightly squeeze dry.
  4. Melt the ghee in a skillet or sauté pan large enough to hold the squash noodles over medium heat; lightly cook the garlic for about a minute. Add the noodles and sauté, tossing and turning constantly, until the squash is heated through, about 2 or 3 minutes. Season as needed with salt and pepper.
  5. Divide between two plates and top with your favorite pasta sauce.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 88 calories, 4.4g total fat, 10.2mg cholesterol, 879.3mg sodium, 853.6mg potassium, 11.3g carbohydrates, 3.6g fiber, 7.1g sugar, 4g protein.

 

 

Pulled Pork with Balsamic-Glazed Peaches

Two more days! Two more days!!  Methinks it is positively indecent, how much I’m looking forward to the end of the Whole30, but I’m proud that I did it.  I got a question on yesterday’s post about whether I’d re-introduce foods one at a time, as suggested by the folks over at Whole9, and blog about the results.

Yes, indeed.  I can already tell you one food that will most likely disappear from my diet all together, except in instances when I simply can’t avoid it (like when we eat out):  dairy.  Yes, even goat and sheep, but I’ll go into that after it’s all over and I report on the results of the Whole30.  That will probably be next Tuesday, since I’m going to be extremely busy, then on my way to Columbus, on Friday.  We’re also taking Monday off for the Labor Day holiday.

At any rate, here’s yet another pork with peaches recipe.  What can I say – we’re just about out of beef (we have another side coming in a week or two), and I’m drowning in peaches.  But that’s okay, because pork pairs so well with fruit, and while this may not be the prettiest dish I’ve ever made, it certainly was one of the most delicious.

Normally, I’d have prepared a barbecue sauce to go with the pulled pork (mmmmm, peach barbecue sauce…) but, as a native Texan, I prefer my BBQ sauce both sweet and tangy, as opposed to Memphis-style barbecue sauces which tend to be just tangy, or Kansas City barbecue sauces, which tend to be just sweet.  But since sugar of any sort is verboten during Whole30, I decided ripe, juicy peaches (which are both sweet and tangy) would fit the bill just fine.

It is easy, too – the pork shoulder simply goes into the slow cooker with some salt, pepper, onion and garlic.  The most difficult part of the recipe is peeling the peaches, which really isn’t hard at all.  (You can leave the skins on, but I prefer cooked peaches without them.)  Using freestone peaches will make pitting and slicing them much less difficult.

The dish was a huge hit in our house – Beloved and I quibbled over leftovers the next day (we’d have had more leftovers, eliminating the need to quibble over them, but we live with a 17-year-old bottomless pit – need I say more?).

Pulled Pork with Balsamic-Glazed Peaches
Pulled Pork with Balsamic-Glazed Peaches
Pulled Pork with Balsamic-Glazed Peaches
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 3 pounds pork shoulder or picnic roast
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 3 large peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into eighths
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or clarified butter
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Instructions
  1. Place the pork shoulder in a slow cooker just large enough to hold it comfortably; season with salt and pepper.
  2. Spread the minced garlic over the top of the shoulder, then scatter the onions over the surface. Pour the chicken stock around, not over, the pork; cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.
  3. Carefully remove the pork from the slow cooker to a large cutting board. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pieces of onion from the pot and add to the shoulder. Pull the pork apart using two forks, working the onion and liquid from the crock, if needed to keep the meat moist, until completely shredded. Move the pork to a bowl or other suitable container; cover and keep warm.
  4. In a large skillet or sauté pan, melt the ghee over medium high heat. Arrange the peach slices in the skillet and cook until they begin to brown and release their juices. Turn the peach slices once; cook briefly and remove to a plate. Reduce the heat to medium and add the balsamic vinegar to the skillet and stir until a sauce is formed. Return the peaches to the pan and gently toss to coat with the balsamic glaze.
  5. Divide the pork between 8 plates and top with the peaches and sauce.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 373 calories, 23g total fat, 110.2mg cholesterol, 148.2mg sodium, 717.3mg potassium, 9g carbohydrates, 1.2g fiber, 6.5g sugar, 31.2g protein

 

RTT: The End Is Nigh, Date Night and Geeky Troubles

Random Tuesday Thoughts

My goodness – three Random Tuesday Thoughts in a row; I’m on a random roll.  You know the drill – click the link, visit Stacy, read more Random.

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OMG – just 3 more days, then the Whole30 is over.  If you’d asked me on August 1st what I thought my chances were of completing the entire 30 days, I wouldn’t have given you very good odds.  But, by golly, I’m going to make it – I’ve been really tempted to relax “the rules” over the last couple of days, but I keep saying to myself, “It’s just a couple more days; why not just do it?”

And I have.  Even more amazing, I’ve made a conscious effort to exercise every day.  Last night I got on the treadmill with my Kindle Fire, and before I knew it, 2 chapters of the book I’m reading and 35 minutes had passed.  If I can’t swim, I’ll take that as my exercise any day of the week.  Every day of the week, if I can swing it.

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That all being said, I’m so looking forward to Friday I can barely stand it.  Since it’s a holiday weekend here in the U.S. (Monday is Labor Day), and since it’s been officially forever since we’ve taken any time for ourselves, Beloved and I are taking Friday and Tuesday off from work.  Friday we’re taking a leap of faith and leaving Scooter and The Young One on their own overnight while we drive to Columbus to visit our very favorite restaurant in Ohio:  G. Michael’s Bistro.  I will absolutely avoid sugar and gluten, and do my best to avoid dairy (they love butter and cream at this place), but other than that, all bets are off (we are definitely having a cocktail…or two).

Hey – if you were confronted with a menu like this, you’d agree: this is no place to diet.  Oh, the Game Duo and Pan-Roasted Duck Breast are calling our names…

Saturday, we’re going to go a bit out of our way and head over to Athens, Ohio and visit their farmer’s market, which is the oldest and most well established in the state before heading home.  I absolutely cannot wait.

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If you’ve been receiving the Whole30 motivational emails, you’ve seen this, but it certainly is worth posting here for those who haven’t.

New England Journal of Panic-Inducing Gobbledygook
New England Journal of Panic-Inducing Gobbledygook

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Suzanne, better known to her large and loyal following as Twenty-Four At Heart, is back from her vacation on the island of Kauai – today she has posted one of the most beautiful photographs of a rainbow I’ve ever seen.  Go, look, and ooooh and aaaaah a bit.

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I’ve been blogging for 4 1/2 years now, and since I began blogging about the change in our diet, traffic to this site has simply exploded.  In August 2011 I had 15,553 unique visitors (up from 6,036 in August 2010) and 83,852 pageviews.  So far this month I’ve had 38,648 unique visitors and 157,271 pageviews, and August isn’t quite over yet.  I’ve been more than doubling the traffic to this blog every year since 2010, and have had to increase my bandwidth three times this year alone.

At present, I have 65GB of bandwidth, and I will come very close to using every bit of that up by the 31st.  If you know anything about websites and webhosting, you know that bandwidth costs money – the more you need, the more it costs you.  Most of the bandwidth used here is from legitimate traffic (my advertising stats/revenue back this up), but some of it – more of it than I’d like, frankly – is from people who come here and link to my images on their sites, giving them content they do not have to host on their own webservers.

Hotlinking is effectively stealing, both my images and my expensive bandwidth, and once most people realize this they stop doing it.  Others, though, could care less – they view the internet and its content as one great, big free-for-all.  So in the interest of my bandwidth (and my wallet), I’ve had to add hotlink protection to my site.  For most purposes, like the recipe sharing sites (Chowstalker, Foodgawker, etc.), this isn’t a problem because I upload the photos to their servers.  It is a problem, however, with RSS feeds and search engines.

Please, let me know if you’re having trouble viewing the images in my posts in your RSS readers, or if you run across a link to a recipe on this site without an accompanying photo during a search engine search.  Bandwidth and image thieves are annoying, but far less important that the readers of this blog.  If you’re having trouble, I’ll find another solution for my hotlinking problem.

Have a lovely Tuesday, y’all.

Fiesta Mini-Quiches

It’s Monday, and Day 27 of the Whole30.  I survived the weekend; an informal lunch at my inlaw’s house – Sloppy Joes, so I was glad I’d taken a Whole30 version of my Broccoli Cashew Raisin Salad (I just omitted the bacon and used mayonnaise instead of the Better Than Miracle Whip).  We also had The G Man for much of the weekend, and spent yesterday canning – when you’re that busy, it can be kind of hard not to succumb to convenience, but we made it through without a dietary hitch.  It helped that Beloved made dinner Saturday; a roast chicken, fresh green beans and some watermelon.  I’d been smacked a good one by the Menopause Fairy, and was just exhausted and couldn’t concentrate on anything.

Yesterday I felt better, which was a good thing since we canned 10 pints of garlic dill pickles, 10 pints of peach salsa and began a quart of fermented peach chutney.  Dinner was fried chicken livers (the recipe needs tweaking, but it was quite good), a Butternut Squash Souffle (sans maple syrup, replace the butter with ghee) and kale braised in chicken stock.  Brunch was some homemade breakfast sausage (basically Maple Sausage Patties without the maple syrup), fresh peaches (can you tell we picked up 1/2 peck of peaches at the farmer’s market Saturday?) and this.

I said last week that I was feeling stifled in the kitchen, but I think it’s more that I’m just bored.  I was at a loss for what to make for our traditional Sunday brunch, and was going over the contents of the refrigerator and counter, where we keep things like sweet potatoes, onions, tomatoes, garlic, bananas, etc., when I decided a quiche would be in order.  Not just any quiche, either, since I’m up to my elbows in peppers, onions and tomatoes, but a Mexican-style quiche.  And while I was at it, why not make it fun and do little individual servings?

It turned out to be a wonderful idea – these are just delicious.  And once the peppers are roasted and diced, the recipe comes together very quickly.  Cooked in a water bath, the quiches are not dry at all, hold their shape well for serving, and taste like little bites of salsa custard.  They keep in the refrigerator and reheat well, too.

Note:  If you’re not doing a Whole30 and don’t have a problem with dairy, you can substitute 1 1/2 cups of half and half for the coconut milk and water.  I imagine a nice mild cheese, shredded, would also be a good addition, but the recipe is absolutely wonderful just as written.  I will make these again.

Fiesta Mini-Quiches
Fiesta Mini-Quiches
Fiesta Mini-Quiches
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 large roasted sweet red pepper, seeded, peeled and diced
  • 1 large roasted poblano pepper, seeded, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup tomato, diced
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously grease a standard 12-cup muffin pan.
  2. Whisk the eggs, coconut milk, water, salt, pepper, chili powder and cumin in a large bowl until well-blended. Stir in the peppers, onion and tomato. Divide the egg/pepper mixture evenly between the 12 cups of the muffin pan.
  3. Pour an inch of hot water into a glass baking dish large enough to hold the muffin pan; set the muffin pan carefully in the hot water. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of one of the quiches comes out clean.
  4. Place the muffin pan on a wire rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 140 calories, 11.6g total fat, 124mg cholesterol, 465mg sodium, 243mg potassium, 5.1g carbohydrates, 1.3g fiber, 1.1g sugar, 5.7g protein