green tomato pizza
It was a pretty good year for our tomato plants but they fizzled out early and I was left with a lot of small green tomatoes. Too small to fry much to the sorrow of Gavin but he came up with another option…green tomato sauce for pizza! It was easy to make, mostly bubbling away on its own, and when combined with chicken, bacon, and some sweet peppers was delish. I cheated and had real pizza crust which I am still paying for but it was worth it. I don’t use a recipe for pizza crust but I can give you my method.
For the crust I add a packet of yeast to about 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 cup of flour, and 1-1 1/2 cups of warm water. Mix to combine, cover, and let sit on the counter for a few hours or overnight. Then add 2 more cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Mix and then knead until smooth. Cover and let double in a warm spot. You will get the feel for making this as you do it a bunch. Now on to the sauce!! Adjust the liquid and seasonings on the sauce if you have more tomatoes. This recipe makes a lot so you can freeze the rest.
You will need:
1-2 pounds of green tomatoes
1/2 cup of white wine
2 cups of chicken or veggie stock
2 teaspoons of Italian seasonings
1 mild chili pepper or 1/4 teaspoon of chili flakes
1 small onion
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Combine everything in a medium saucepan and add a little water if the stock and wine do not cover your tomatoes completely. Let cook on low heat until tomatoes are completely soft and you have a puree. Keep an eye on it in case you need to add a little more water. Once cooked down you can put the mixture through a sieve and if not thick enough for you place it back on the stove and let cook down a little more. You are now the proud owner of some of the best pizza sauce ever! We had this on a pepperoni pizza too and it was just as good. By the way my book is available in paperback now on amazon.com just look for A Texas Girl in Mississippi!
Gluten Free Fried Pickles
Gluten-Free Fried Pickles
I had never eaten a fried pickle until we moved here but now I am addicted! These are a combination of several of the best I have had here with my own twist of using masa and rice flour which keeps them really crunchy. Eat these right away.
3 cups of hamburger dill chips
¼ cup cornmeal
½ cup masa
¼ cup rice flour
2 tablespoons dried dill
1/8 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning
Oil for frying
Place at least two inches of oil in a deep pan on the stove to start getting warm but don’t put it on too high or else it will burn the pickles. In a bowl mix together the cornmeal, masa, rice flour, dill, and Cajun seasoning. Get a sheet pan laid out with paper towels or if you have them paper bags for draining the pickles. Take the pickles straight from the jar and toss in the flour a handful at a time. Set aside on a plate and continue doing the rest of the pickles until they are all coated. Test the oil by dropping a single pickle in to see if they fry immediately. If the oil is ready then fry the pickles a handful at a time until they are a slightly darker color. Since these don’t use traditional flour they won’t brown up so don’t wait for that. Serve warm with Ranch dressing. They will go fast so you might want to sneak a few while you are frying. Quality control!
If you have to eat gluten free or are just interested in doing it part or full time then maybe you have run into the same issues I have. The recipes I have read each require some different specialty flour that is hard to find and expensive. I can’t even imagine what people who don’t live near a big city do to find any of those ingredients. The worst part is the taste. I don’t know what sort of pizza these people who have “the best gluten free pizza ever” were eating but it must have been really bad because I have now tried six different crust recipes and mixes and finally I just gave up and eat pizza fries. I keep trying to make gluten free bread at home too and it is pathetic and depressing. I can make beautiful regular bread but my gluten free bread always falls flat and has feels like a sponge. So you can understand why I used a mix in part for this. I usually askew mixes but in this recipe it makes things really easy and you get a finished scone that nobody will know is gluten free unless you tell them. So forgive the mix but you might thank me later.
You will need:
1 1/4 cup of gluten free Bisquick
3/4 cup of gluten free oatmeal flour (I cheat here and grind up steel cut oats in a coffee grinder but they are not 100% gluten free)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (the mix has this in there but you need a little extra because of the oatmeal flour)
2/3 cups half and half (substitute coconut, soy, etc. if you need to)
1/3 cup butter cut into very small cubes
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon orange extract (If you really like orange you can add in a tablespoon of orange marmalade too)
pinch of cinnamon
cinnamon and sugar for dusting
Heat your oven to 400 degrees and spray a sheet pan with nonstick spray but only in the center. Mix together the Bisquick, oatmeal flour, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon. Add in the butter and just toss a little. Mix the eggs into the half and half and then add the extract. Mix your wet into the dry just until everything is combined then scrape into a mound in the center of the sheet pan. Wet your hands and mold the mound into a circle about 2 inches thick. Wet a knife and cut the circle into triangle wedges. Dust with cinnamon and sugar then place in the center of the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until bottoms are brown.
If you are wondering where I have been then let me tell you. I just finished and published my first cookbook! It has plenty of new recipes and all your old favorites from the blog put into handy sections so everything is easy to find. Available from amazon.com for Kindle. If you don’t have a kindle your can download a free app that will let you read it! Here is the link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00M677PTE/ref=mp_s_a_1_2?qid=1406499298&sr=8-2&pi=SY200_QL40 Pass it on!
Disclaimer: If you are here looking at this because you want to go on a diet and lose weight then find another site. I have not lost a single pound and I am eating this way because I have health issues which force me to.
Now that that is out of the way let me tell you my story in the hopes that someone out there like me might find answers. For nearly three years I suffered with stomach and intestinal issues which got steadily worse. I wrote it off at first as stress-related because of my mother’s illness and death. Then I thought maybe my old duodenum issues were back. At first it was occasional nausea and some gas but I had diarrhea constantly. The pain was pretty bad. I popped gas pills and anti-acid pills but nothing helped. I went to my OB/GYN to get checked for anything in that area but the ultrasound found nothing. Soon I was so bloated that I could only wear my yoga pants and I looked pregnant. For almost two weeks out of every month and sometimes more I was in pain and bloated and afraid to eat anything. I went to the doctor again and again but they found nothing. I tried every kind of digestive enzyme and probiotic on the market but none helped. I eliminated sugar from my diet for two weeks but that did nothing. I eliminated all dairy from my diet, nada. I got rid of beef and then tried going vegetarian, still sick.
I was afraid of food and envious of my husband and boys who could eat without getting sick. I was snapping at them because of the pain. I felt fat and ugly. Every second I was searching online for someone who could give me another answer to why I felt this way. IBS was a contender for awhile but all the trigger foods they suggested I had tried to eliminate and I got no relief. I had headaches constantly that were so bad no amount of pills helped. I was forgetting what normal felt like. I was hopeless and depressed.
Then one night I felt so bad I thought I was having a heart attack and was scared I would die and leave my boys without a mom. I went back to the doctor again but tests showed nothing. Every time I went for help I just ended up with a huge bill and a shrug. To them I was fine. That week I was again looking on the internet and I ran across the symptom list for gluten intolerance. It fit me exactly so I decided to give it a try. After one week of being gluten-free I did not wake up feeling sore. My bloating was gone and so was my diarrhea. No headaches, no depression without a reason. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and my symptoms to return. I have been gluten-free for a month and I feel normal! I love normal! Not an easy lifestyle for anyone but since I cook so much from scratch it has not been a huge change. So that is my story. I’ve discovered that rice and flax make really bad pasta and really good gluten-free pizza dough is hard to find. I will keep you updated and try to convert some of my old recipes to fit my new lifestyle.
So a little back-story first so you won’t think this is a random post and question my sanity. My husband changed jobs about a year ago and to understand the situation with that you can read my post Lost and Found. With his new job he took a nearly $25,000 pay cut so money is tight. Our mortgage immediately takes half of what he brings home. I never finished college and can’t, long boring story there, so jobs I can get would barely pay enough for our youngest to be in daycare. So my job is being a mom and trying to save money the one way I can and that is with groceries. I recently posted on my Facebook timeline that I got two weeks of groceries for all five of us for $157 and a few people wanted to know how I did it so this post is about how I try to save money. This will be a long post and most of the things probably are not practical for someone without a lot of time on their hands but maybe some of it can be useful or you can modify what I do.
First off I tried the whole couponing thing and hated it. I don’t need a three year supply of condiments and most of the coupons are for yucky processed stuff I won’t feed my kids. Don’t get me wrong I do upload a few coupons onto my store loyalty card when it is something I need but I will never again clip coupons and haul around a binder trying to annoy cashiers to save a quarter or two. Not worth it to me. So I will tell you what I do use to save money.
1. Menus! I preplan two weeks of meals including the lunches I send with my two oldest boys. Not the most exciting of tasks but it keeps you from coming into the kitchen and not knowing what to fix and then opting for going out. If I don’t feel like having something one night then I can always switch it out for another night’s meal. I also keep a few frozen pizzas or rotisserie chickens in the freezer for nights I don’t want to cook.
2. Use what you have. I plan the menus around what I have on hand and try to use up everything. I worked in food service so I understand how quickly things can spoil. I have a three day policy on cooked or raw food, not including veggies and fruit, if we are not going to eat it by then it goes into the freezer so I don’t have to toss it. We ate fried chicken the other night and there were two thighs leftover and I knew we were not going to eat them so I took off the breading, diced them, and cooked them with some leftover tomatoes, peppers, and seasonings to make a filling for quesadillas. I put it into the freezer and down the line I have a lunch for the kids. I did the same with some leftover cooked pork and cole slaw mix which will be filling for wontons later. I save the carcasses from our rotisserie chickens and celery that is about to expire in the freezer and make a huge pot of stock from that. Honestly, I cannot live without my freezer.
3. Buy in bulk. About every month in a half to two months I make a big meat buy. I grab a huge bag of chicken breasts, some ground turkey, pork loins and whatever else I need. I slice the loins into chops and bag them up and the pieces at the ends that don’t make good chops I dice for chili or soup. We don’t buy beef anymore because my digestive system has decided I can’t eat it and that is a sad state of affairs for a former native Texan. Can you truly be a former Texan? I digress. Having this meat on hand makes meals easier for me to plan and it is cheaper than buying in small amounts. Not everybody has a freezer so this is only practical for those that do. I get my paper towels and toilet paper the same way. For those screaming that paper towels are not eco friendly I am sorry but I do laundry every other day and if I had to wash more towels I am sure the water I would use up negates and benefit from not using paper. I do have three boys, three cats, and a dog.
4. If you can make it or grow it yourself then do. I started making my own laundry soap. I grate a bar of Ivory, add one cup of Borax and a cup of washing soda and I have laundry soap! Works like a charm too. I had trouble finding washing soda so I looked it up and all you have to do is bake baking soda to change the chemical makeup into washing soda. I buy the big bag of baking soda at Sam’s and then bake it at 400° for about an hour and get washing soda. It only takes a tablespoon of laundry soap per load and in my high efficiency washer I just put the soap on top of the clothes. I use concentrated multi- purpose cleaner, all natural of course, for everything. I buy a bottle about every six months and then pour ¼ cup into a spray bottle and add water. Don’t get tricked into thinking you need some ultra tough cleaner. I use this for everything. On my smooth-top stove it cleans really well if I dump some kosher salt and baking soda for the scrubbing effect. I also use the foaming hand wash pumps but rather than buying the refills of foam wash, which is mostly water, I buy a refill of regular soap, natural again, and the just add around a tablespoon to the pump and fill with water. I save a lot of money on household cleaning products this way. By the way that all purpose cleaner works in those refillable spray mops too which is what I use. I bake my own bread. I use a bread machine though, so I guess I kind of cheat but still I can control what goes in it and it is a lot cheaper for us since I don’t like white bread. I also just started making our yogurt. Got a machine for about $36 with shipping and it makes eight containers. I got three batches with some milk left over out of a gallon and I can make coconut milk yogurt too. Saves a lot of money of yogurt around here and I know exactly what is in there. I make my own ketchup, Worcestershire, steak sauce, jam, salsa, pickles, and tomato sauce. You can Google recipes for anything these days so check it out. Our garden did really well and we have a great farmer’s market in the summer so I try to go canning crazy and preserve what I can. Even if you just make a few jars of jam you can save a lot of money and freezer jam is easy. I make and freeze biscuits and whenever I cook I make enough to freeze some for later use. Beans are another easy thing to cook and they freeze really well. I also make large batches of mini muffins for lunches. Chocolate chip and banana are the faves and they freeze too. I freeze leftover waffles and pancakes which reheat well in the toaster or the microwave. If I am going to be cooking anyhow I might as well make extra so I don’t have to pay somebody else for it.
5. Water only. I recently weaned the boys off of those pouch drinks and now only allow water with some flavorings. I found flavorings on Amazon that use stevia. Yes, it is bottled water and not great for the environment but baby steps here folks. They get a soda if we are eating out but I won’t bring them home. To pay that much money for a bunch of chemicals seems wrong to me so I just don’t. I also have told them that they have to use almond milk for their cereal since milk prices are getting crazy. If they want to have a glass of milk I am fine with it but I end up dumping out a lot of soggy cereal so I would rather throw out the almond milk.
Well those are my strategies for saving money along with telling the boys that they aren’t allowed to be picky. I hope some of these will help you save a little money. If I come up with anything else I will let you know.
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Apologies for it being so long but I just have not had any good ideas for recipes and then my oven went out. Also, I don’t get paid for this I just do it for fun so forgive the long hiatus. This recipe is an adaptation of one I use every year from my Betty Crocker Cookbook. My aunt developed a nut allergy late in life and so I thought it unfair that she couldn’t have any peanut brittle so I fixed that. Usually I am rather loose in my directions but this is candy so you have to follow them closely or your candy will end up in the trash! Read the whole recipe then get everything you need set up before you start because you can’t stop in the middle of this. I made a batch of sunflower and a batch of peanut brittle in about an hour so it isn’t hard you just need to be prepared. I will give you a recipe that allows you to make either kind but remember it is not my recipe except for the sunflower kernel addition. I used roasted and salted sunflower kernels and roasted but unsalted peanuts. Most recipes call for unroasted peanuts but I think the roasted kind give a much better product. If you can find unsalted sunflower kernels those will work also I just could not find any. It took me about two large bags of them with some leftover. Also, if you don’t have a candy thermometer do yourself a favor and go buy one because it makes this so much easier.
You will need:
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups of sugar
1 cup of water
1 cup of light corn syrup
3 tablespoons of butter
2 cups of sunflower kernels or 3 cups of peanuts
Heat your oven to 200° and then place a greased sheet pan in it to keep warm. Lay out something to set the hot sheet pan on when you pull it from the oven and something to put the hot pot on too. I use a couple of kitchen towels to protect the counter. In a small bowl mix together the baking soda, water, and vanilla. In a large pot, two quarts at least, mix the cup of water, sugar, and corn syrup together. Now before you get started heating up this mixture place your already measured butter and sunflower kernels or peanuts near the stove in easy reach. Also place a glass of ice water to test for your candy stage. Now you are ready! Over medium heat, stirring every now and then, bring your sugar mixture to 240° on the candy thermometer this might be labeled the soft ball stage on some thermometers. To check the candy drop a little in the ice water and if it forms a ball that you can still smush it is ready. My computer doesn’t like the word smush so I am typing it again! Ha! Now you can add in the butter and if you are doing peanuts add them in too. I wait to add the sunflower kernels until later because I worry that they might burn. This you have to stir continuously. Do not leave it for one second! It will burn and you will have wasted your time. The temp of your candy will drop slightly when you add the cold butter so it will take a little bit to get it back up. You need it to reach 300° this time which is the hard crack stage. If you think it is ready drop some in the ice water and if you get thin threads you are done and can take it off the stove. Get your pan out of the oven and then quickly beat in, by hand with a spoon, the vanilla mixture. Your candy will bubble up. If you are doing the sunflower version this is when you add them in. Now comes the tough part. My recipe says to divide this between two pans but I have never gotten it that thin so I only use one pan. I pour it out and then press it down with a buttered plastic spatula I use on pancakes. Try different things until you find something that works to spread out the candy. If you want to try doing two pans go right ahead just remember to keep them heated. I warn you the sunflower is easier to spread than the peanut. Let it cool and then just break it up and store it. I put mine in tins and if I make it way ahead of the holidays I keep it in the freezer. Now because I love you and I am going to give you something most recipes never bother with. Clean up tips! As soon you get that brittle out of the pan and spread out put the pot, thermometer, and spoons into hot water and let it sit. All the candy will just wash right out! You are welcome, and Happy Holidays everybody!
First I am going to apologize for this not being a recipe and for my not writing as often as I want. Second I am going to be completely unapologetic about what I am going to write about. I am going to be candid and most people, especially in this country, are not going to like it. Nearly one year ago my mother died. She was sick for about a year or two before that so my children will probably not remember the woman I knew especially my two younger boys. She was not my first loss and she will not be my last. I am fully aware that I and everyone I love can and will die. There I said it. We are all going to die! Even my husband when I, once again, told him we need a will asked me what happened. Nothing has to happen to understand a basic fact of life. He acted as though I just told him some horrible news. Throughout this year I have noticed a truth about this country. We like to pretend that we aren’t going to die. We like to use terms like “closure” and expect people to “move on”. When did we forget that grief has never really ends and once that connection with that person is lost you never get over it. I remember asking my father how he was doing and he said that nobody wanted to talk about it and expected him to be past it already. This was barely a month after losing his wife of 35 years. I wanted to go scream at these people. I have wanted to scream at a lot of people this year. Why are we so uncomfortable with emotions and death and grief but putting violent whores on television is just fine? When did we stop understanding what being human means? We feel intensely. We cry, we rage, we care, and we love and we feel loss. Every time I see somebody in a store shopping with their elderly mother I tear up. I wonder if they understand how precious this everyday thing is. I wonder what my mother would have looked like as an old woman. Some people make think it harsh but I am raising my children with no illusions as to death. I don’t think we need another generation of people who pretend it will never happen to them. I think we need a generation who appreciates every second that they get of life and understand that death is natural but grieving is hard. I laugh at the “steps of grief” because they are so ridiculous. Grief is sneaky and just when you think you are doing okay it sneaks up and hits you over the head. You can’t follow steps like you were programming a VCR or something you just try and make it from one day to the next. I try to live as though I might not get tomorrow but I still have hopes for the future. I almost feel sorry for my husband and others who can’t face death or haven’t had a deep loss. They just don’t understand the true beauty of life and the reality that it is not forever. I don’t get too upset over this though because I don’t really get overly angry over anything anymore. In the big picture not much more than making sure I have raised my boys right and they know how much I love them is important. When you lose someone you lose yourself and you almost have to reinvent who you are. It is especially hard for me because I look and sound just like my mom. I look in the mirror and see a younger version of her looking back at me and I am sad that she never truly thought she was beautiful. I regret living so far apart that the boys did not get to know her and my youngest will probably have no memories of her at all. I am hoping to leave my boys with few regrets but I know that is nearly impossible. At my age I don’t think my mom was thinking she only had nineteen more years and what was she going to do in that time but that is how I think now. I understand how my husband thinks I am depressed or morbid because our culture makes thinking this way taboo but I won’t change. If this post does nothing else maybe it will make you reconsider what is really important to you and maybe you will go call or hug those you love. I am going to go cuddle my boys; even the nearly 10-year-old one who is 80 pounds is getting put on my lap!