COOK BOOK REVIEW & A GIVEAWAY! WINNER ANNOUNCED


UPDATE:  ANNOUNCING THE WINNER FOR THE ITALIAN DIABETES COOK BOOK GIVE AWAY CHOSEN AT RANDOM IS:  LINDA.
Please contact me through my email with your mailing address to receive your free copy of the cook book....congratulations Linda!
I recently received The Italian Diabetes Cook Book Delicious And Healthful Dishes From Venice To Sicily and Beyond written by Amy Riolo.  Published by the American Diabetes Association.
First, let me say, this cook book has so many wonderful recipes it was a tough call choosing a few to test for this post.  Just flipping through the cook book had me wanting to make every single recipe - and there are 150 of them!  This will definitely be a cook book I will use time and time again. It has also been a fun new taste experience for my family.  Each recipe I have made has been seriously delicious.  If you read my blog, you know I am a lover of food, especially Italian, so this is a cook book that pulled me in right away.
On another note, a good friend of mine recently passed away.  He was a diabetic who was very careful with his diet and exercise regime.  He did not die from diabetes, but from other health/age conditions at the age of 72.  He often said, "if people followed a diabetic diet, there would be less obese and much healthier people in this world".
In reading this cook book I would totally agree.  The recipes use local, fresh in season ingredients.  Wholesome food that is delicious and nutritious.  The book begins with Appetizers, then First Course recipes, 2nd Courses, Side Dishes, Salads, Breads, Sauces and Condiments,  and Desserts.  Amy also offers many gluten free options for her recipes  - every recipe made for this post, of course, is Gluten Free.
If you would like to receive a FREE copy of this lovely cook book, just leave a comment saying what your favorite Italian dish is.  One winner will be chosen at random and notified by email.
Here are just a few of the dishes I have made so far:  By the way, all of the pictures of the recipes I have made were taken by my dear husband so he gets full credit here.
CLASSIC MEATBALLS (POLPETTE) A TRADITIONAL CALABRESE DISH: (quick, easy to make and we loved them, we have had them twice now)
Next up:  ASPARAGUS, ORANGE, AND FENNEL SALAD (INSALATA DIASPARAGI, ARANCE, E FINOCCHI): (this salad was so refreshing and delicious, again quick and easy to make)
Next up:  VENETIAN-STYLE BEANS WITH SWISS CHARD (FAGIOLIALLA VENEZIANA CON BIETOLE)
(I would like to add a note in regards to this delicious dish:  The beans listed in the book call for Borlotti beans sometimes known as Cranberry Beans.  I went to a local health food store and here they are called Heirloom Anasazi Beans - so they are known by a few names....my new favorite dried bean)  This dish has lovely subtle flavors that get even better the next day.
Now for a couple of dessert recipes:
Next up:  Yogurt Gelato (GELATO ALLO YOGURT) with Strawberries: (this was surprisingly refreshing and full of flavor with added vanilla)
Next up:  IVREA'S POLENTA CAKE (POLENTINA DI IVREA) This was a moist delicious cake with subtle flavors....we loved it!  Again an easy dessert cake to make and lovely to serve with tea, plus it is the first time I have used Almond Flour...what a great texture it adds to baked goods.
I really had a fun time in the kitchen making these recipes.  You should see my copy of the cook book - dog ear'd, lots of book marks for all the other recipes I still want to make, it already looks well used, which in truth it is and certainly will be even more so down the road.  Thank you Amy Riolo for your cook book of delicious recipes, my family loved them all.
(Don't forget to leave a comment saying what your favorite Italian dish is, we have 1 cook book to give away free!)

We recently had a week vacation - a lovely cabin on the lake at one of our Gulf Islands.  We love the cabin with its rustic charm, a cozy big fireplace, a kitchen (most important!) and beautiful lake views.

Over the years, I have learned what to bring as usually the kitchens are quite small, and just stocked with the very bare bones essentials.  These are the must-haves that I pack with us each year:
In terms of the kitchen supplies stocked in the cabin, the knives are sadly very dull, with an even duller vegetable peeler in the the utensil drawer. And (yikes!) a glass cutting board on the counter.  I would not dream of using my beautiful knives on a glass cutting board - they should all be recycled into something else more useful.  What that might be is food for thought...no pun intended.
A good quality non-stick frying pan is definitely a must-have to bring along as well. Usually the cupboards contain a various assortment and size of pots and frying pans from yesteryear.  Ideally, I would prefer to bring my cast iron frying pan but the size and weight alone stops that idea right there.
Although the stove, fridge, and counter space was small it is surprising what one can create in the kitchen. While at times it did feel challenging, it was also fun and creative.   During our time away, we had steaks with risotto and steamed vegetables, oven baked chicken breasts with pan fried potatoes and steamed vegetables, gourmet sausages with yellow roasted beets, garlic mashed potatoes and salad.
We also had the pleasure of visiting a cheese farm where we purchased beautiful goat cheese and organic eggs. Plus, real homemade organic English Toffee - my huge weakness! Finding a good restaurant for dinner out is always a lovely treat...ask the locals - they will tell you the best places to eat out. In my case, restaurants that can safely create gluten free meals. (we research the net as well)
My kitchen at home is not that large by some standards, although considerably bigger than the one at the cabin.  If I could have my "dream" kitchen it would be large enough to comfortably fit a farm style table and seating for 8 - I have never been keen on "dining rooms".  The kitchen for me is the heart of the home where family and friends can come together to share great food. A special bonus in my "dream" kitchen would be to have a gas stove/oven.  Ohhh heaven.  My mom's favorite way to cook was with a gas-fired stove. She always said that it was the best way to cook as you have a greater range of control with the heat.
How about this stove/oven from BlueStar?  That would definitely be on my wish list.

Wouldn't it be amazing to have a built in grill?  Especially on those cold winter nights when the BBQ is not an option and you have a crowd to feed.  Or what about a stove with 6 burners and a double oven?  Yayyy I could cook to my hearts content with a stove like that.
Whether I am cooking in a small kitchen with the bare bones minimum for supplies, or back at home in my fully stocked kitchen, it is all about great tasting food.  Still, that BlueStar stove is a beauty...and it is always fun to dream right?

In previous posts, I have written about how to season your cast iron frying pans.  I had always used oils such as:  grape seed, olive oil, coconut oil, and even tried using rendered duck fat.  While these oils did work - they were very temporary.  It seemed the frying pan was constantly needing to be re-seasoned.  Surely after 5 years of constant use, the cast iron pan should have by then had a well seasoned surface...however, this was not the case.
So, I scoured the internet looking for the best way to create a non-stick finish to cast iron that will last...and I found it!  This post here will show you a step by step process that will create a long lasting non-stick finish to all of your cast iron pans. It really, really works!  Many thanks to the website Instructables.
Although this is a process, it does take time to do, it is well worth the effort.  Who would have thought that natural flax oil could create such a beautiful non-stick finish?  It is amazing.  Since seasoning my cast iron pan a few months ago - it has worked very well - no re-seasoning has been required.
By the way, all of the pictures showing the cast iron pan in this post look like there is a fine layer of oil on the surface of the pan....not so.  This is how the pan looks with it's cleaned,  sealed in seasoned surface.  And wow, in terms of non stick it is wonderful.
From beautiful pan fired potatoes, with easy over eggs and sausages:
To many a stir fry:
As well as searing chicken or pork chops:
The frying pan always comes out looking like this:
When there are sticky dried on bits, I will use a spatula/flipper to scrape off the bits:
Then I wipe that out with a paper towel.  The next step is to take a damp clean wash cloth and I simply wipe out the pan really really well.  It still comes out clean:
Occasionally, I will use warm water and a cloth if the pan has lots of stuck on bits, but even then, it comes out great!  This process to create a non stick surface is the best I have experienced to date...a method I will continue to use.  Thanks again Instructables for your great step by step process to season cast iron pans.

Wow.  Have I ever been missing my kitchen.  After these past few months of working hard with my new company....I needed desperately needed to get back into the kitchen.
The above photo is 14 cups of nourishing, vitamin packed, healthy Turkey broth.  Thanksgiving in Canada was Oct. 8/12. The turkey had been sitting in my freezer.  I hated to freeze a beautiful fresh turkey, but there was just no time.   So happily three days after Thanksgiving we had our Turkey.  Then life got busy again...hence, the bones went into the freezer.
Finally, a couple of days off.  I  love creating in my kitchen.  Today was a "god send".  Just being in the kitchen for 5 hours was bliss in itself.  Stirring, smelling, and skimming...yes, skimming.
For any kind of stock I use the standard:  Onion, garlic, celery, carrot, fresh parsley, bay leaf, the bones, and water, just to cover.  Last year I read on the internet...(can't remember where) that to achieve the most delicious, vitamin/nutrient packed stock, you need to simmer on a low low heat.  Like a "glug, glug" kind of heat, lid off.  While that is happening, every so often, skim the surface of the broth of any white foam and bubbles.  Five hours or so later, once strained, you will have the most delicious stock you have ever tasted.  And it will be a clear deep color, that once refrigerated, completely gels.
Friends....I promise you - don't use a crock pot, don't boil the "daylights" out of your stock.  If you follow this method, you would not believe the difference in flavor.  It is unbelievable.
Then after all is said and done, you can turn around and reduce this lovely stock to a "concentrate".  Simmer fairly hard until reduced by half.  (do not add salt until you taste it, as it will be very concentrated) Pour into ice cube trays to freeze, to add to stews, soups, gravies.
It was a great day in the kitchen, and seeing all this wonderful stock makes me a very happy girl!
p.s.  if you try this method...let me know what you think.  🙂

We do love our soup in this household.  Now that I think of it, this recipe is also Vegan - not a speck of animal protein in this soup whatsoever.  There are other tomato style soups on my blog, as well as Vegetarian, but I think this is the second Vegan soup I have ever made. It was surprisingly filling and packed full of flavor.
On another happy note, I found a fantastic deal on a new Kitchen Toy at the Thrift store:
This little baby cost $5.25 - how is that for a deal?  It has two settings on the switch, setting 1 then setting 2 which is turbo speed.  I was a little nervous buying a used hand immersion blender as everything in my kitchen is completely gluten free.  Remember making glue as a kid with flour and water?  The very thought of there being stuck on wheat flour or other forms of gluten was terrifying.  For a Celiac - this could be dangerous ground.
So to clean this blender, I filled a bowl with very hot soapy water, and blended on turbo speed for 2 minutes.  Rinsed out the bowl, added more hot water, and blended for another 2 minutes.  Then to make double sure it was clean, I rinsed out the bowl once more and poured in boiling water, then blended another 2 minutes.
That did the trick!  It was now super shiny clean and it blended the Vegetarian Tomato Basil Soup beautifully, with no risk of gluten contamination. Believe you me...if there was gluten contamination on that blender, I would have reacted within one minute after tasting the soup!
Then the day after - we had sunshine - out came the BBQ for burgers and homemade ketchup:

I love great Thrift Store Finds, and this one was such a deal!
CREAMY VEGETARIAN TOMATO BASIL SOUP:
5 cups sliced Roma tomatoes
2 Tblsp. Balsamic Vinegar
Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 carrots, chopped
1 large onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 stalk of celery with leaves, chopped
salt and pepper
4 cups of Homemade Vegetable stock
1/2 cup minced Fresh Basil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Add the tomatoes, Balsamic Vinegar, a couple of good splashes of Ex. Virgin Olive Oil, salt and pepper to a roasting pan, tossing to coat.
Roast for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, heat up a large pot or dutch oven on low medium heat, with a good drizzle of olive oil.  Add the carrots, onion, garlic and celery to the pot, sauteing about 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.
Pour in the Vegetable stock, and bring to a simmer on low heat, lid on and simmer until the vegetables are cooked.
Add the roasted tomatoes, minced basil, and blend with an immersion blender or a food processor until thick and creamy.
Serve hot with fresh Gluten Free Bread - great for lunch or dinner!

I have been having fun in the kitchen with my new toy.  What a delight it has been using a good Food Processor!
This post is to showcase the recipes and food we have been eating these past few weeks - some new, some not new....but also to mention, working with a food processor is not only fun, it makes life easier!  I will admit, the first few times using this processor, has been a learning experience.  And I even watched the DVD that came with this processor....but as much as I am visual, I am very much a hands on kind of gal!
So, without further adieu...here are some pictures and some links:
One of the first things I made was a simple Ragu Pasta Sauce - too easy: (I don't think I have ever posted this recipe because it is so basic - meat, diced veggies, tomatoes, seasoning etc.)
A breakfast Smoothie is always a wonderful way to start your day:
Here are a couple of lunch ideas - first a creamy red and green coleslaw: (here is a basic coleslaw recipe)
Or how about a Curry Pate...
Then we have a lovely Curry Squash Soup:
Or how about for dinner:  Danish, well kind of, Chicken Frikadellar:
Oh, I must not forget, one of my All Time Favorites:  Salsa:
Then finally...drum roll please...to die for...Gluten Free Yorkshire Pudding/PopOvers:
It really has been a fun time in the kitchen.  Do you use a food processor?  Would you like to share some of your favorite recipes?

I know this is yet another chicken recipe...I still have an abundance of them, but... I just had to share...
Christmas came a wee bit early in this house the other day.  I am having a lot of fun with my new toy...
I have been looking at this baby for about 3 years now, and finally it went on sale, so could not pass it by.  So far I have only used this machine twice, but I am loving it.  My other food processor was a 22 year old Moulinex, still in good working order, however, it's bowl capacity was only four cups.  This one has 12.  This machine can even grind up meat - beef, chicken, turkey - can hardly wait to try that out.  It also has a shredding attachment that offers a medium shred on one side, and a smaller shred on the other side.  Plus, the slicing attachment offers 6 different options for slicing thickness - how great is that?  It also comes with a small bowl and blade, as well as a large bowl and blade, and both bowls are clearly marked in cups.
This food processor comes with a comprehensive user guide which also includes a number of recipes, and a great demonstration DVD.  Plus the motor has a 10 year warranty!  I am in love, total love.  Oh, I almost forgot - this machine is way quieter than my old one - whooo hooo!
Now onto the recipe - I used the food processor to test this recipe out, but you could certainly do everything with a box grater or micro plane grater.  This marinade would be lovely with beef or fish such as salmon or halibut too.
4-6 chicken thighs and drumsticks
1/2 of a large lime
2 Tblsp. Tamari Sauce
1/4 of an onion (cut into thirds)
1 large garlic clove
1 inch piece of fresh ginger
1/2 Tblsp. of Toasted Sesame Oil
If using a food processor, add all the ingredients and whiz up - this only took about 1 minute or 2.
Spread evenly over your chicken pieces, and refrigerate, marinating 8-10 hours.

We cooked ours on the BBQ, but if using the oven, bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Enjoy... I am heading back to the kitchen to play with my new toy! 🙂
Question:  Do you have any tips using a food processor for your favorite recipes?

Every once in a while, I find a great "score" at the the local Thrift Store. Some days can be hit and miss.  Today, was definitely a hit.  Upon walking into the store, here sat two lovely enameled pots. This is a lovely saute, or braising pan - in perfect condition.  Check out the inside:
Here is the second matching pot:
Smaller in width, but deeper - great for heating up soups, steaming potatoes or vegetables.  The inside of this pot is perfect too:
When I got home, my daughter was visiting.  I pulled these pots out of the bag and said "I so scored, what do you think?"  I could tell, my daughter was trying to spare my feelings.   She said "Honestly?"  I said yes.  "Well, Mom.., honestly, they look like old school Grandma pots".  What??  So I responded: "Well, I ain't no Grandma, and I love these pots"!  She responded by saying "OOOOOkaaaayyyyy" .   Never one to hold back her opinions, I thought, fair enough, to each his own.  We can't all like the same things right?  Now comes the best part:
Both of these pots are fairly heavy in weight, always a good thing.   The first pot had a sticker price of $4.00  The second pot $3.00.  Score!  But then I forgot it was "Poker Chip Wednesday".  When I got to the counter, the clerk handed me a dark bag, to select a poker chip.  In went my hand, pulling out a blue chip.  Half Price.  Double Score!  These two lovely pots cost a total of $3.50.  How awesome is that?
I did give these pots a good scrub, just to be sure of no gluten contamination.  They are lovely enough to use as serving dishes too, and how pretty they look in the kitchen.  Grandma pots or not I love them.  And what is not to love about a double score at the thrift store, and poker chip Wed.?   It makes it all the more fun. 🙂

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