Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cookie Sheet Cleaner

Nasty Cookie Sheet
Did it work??? Eh.  Not to the extent of which I hoped.  So I found this recipe on pinterest because I have a few cheap cookie sheets that look like I bake every single day 12 hours a day.  I wash them every time I use them but since I use silpats I honestly just don't put forth much effort; which is gross in its own right.  As I was cleaning out my kitchen I came across said cookie sheets and finally had enough.

# 1.  I searched on Pinterest for a solution which was a mixture of the following:  1/4 cup of baking soda a little bit of peroxide, just enough to make a PASTE - not a liquid, a PASTE!

Mixture & Ingredients
 #2.  Next step is to spread this 'paste' onto the gross cookie sheet.  

Pans with the paste

#3.  Set the timer for 30 minutes.  As you can see, I may have skipped this step ;)


 #4.  Scrub the heck out of it with a brillo pad.  SCRUB, SCRUB and SCRUB some more.  I found the circle motion to work the best!  Once your hand starts to feel a little raw, rinse off the pan and your hand....

#5.  This was the result.
Clean Cookie Sheet

Dirty Top Left / Clean bottom right.
Did it work?  Yes for the most part.  It didn't get all the grossness off and it deffinately did not return it to its original beauty as most of the post said it would but it did get that sticky feel off perfectly and did clean it well for the most part!  I think if I did the process again that it might get the job done.

Now.  Go clean ALL of your cookie sheets and muffin pans!  You know they're gross!

Traci

Baby It's Cold Outside!

Brrrrrr!  The heat is going, the fireplace crackling and I'm STILL about to freeze to death.  We are impatiently waiting on the dangerous 394 flakes of snow that are headed towards us here in central Alabama.  Well, maybe.  The forecast changes every 28 seconds.  Then again, it is Alabama so since it will be 9 degrees and snowy tonight that means there is every possibility in the world that it will be 72 and sunny tomorrow, 12 hours later.  Don't change ya clothes just yet.

We have been battling strep throat in this house for what seems like a small eternity.  Our December went like this:

Payton - Strep
Haleigh - Strep
Payton - Stomach Bug
Haleigh - Stomach Bug
Tanner - Stomach Bug
Husband - Stomach Bug
Haleigh - Fever virus

Moving on into January and finally Tanner takes his turn:

Tanner - strep AND
Payton - Ear and Sinus Infection

Today Haleigh and Payton are both snotty and I don't mean that as a description of their personality.

For the love of all that is holy and kind.  We have changed tooth brushes 27 times.  Washed sheets every single week.  Thrown out half of the house and IT IS STILL HERE!

I should own stock in Lysol and Clorox.  Yuck.

Anyway, so last night since it was so cold and talk of snow and sickness and more sickness and for the love multiple kinds of grossness going on in this house, I decided that it was CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP time. I've dedicated one night a week to a soup for the rest of the winter; the kids and husband are not pleased.  My mom and I, we can eat soup ALL.THE.TIME.  My husband and kids both turn their nose up at the very mention of 'soup for dinner'.  Last week the potato soup was a GREAT success!  They sucked it down and asked for more.  Payton gets in the car from wrestling last night and says 'I do NOT want chicken noodle soup can you please go buy me something from a restaurant (when she says 'restaurant' she pronounces every last syllable).  I told her no and she started to cry.  I let her cry.  Then I reminded her that she was nearly eight years old and crying over stupid chicken noodle soup.  She didn't care, she continued to cry.  We made it home and she cried all the way to the kitchen, looked in my beautiful mustard yellow Le Creuset stock pot and cried salty tears over my chicken noodle soup!  THEN THAT HEIFER HAS THE NERVE TO SAY 'CAN I HAVE THE KIND IN THE CAN'!!!! Um, come again little lady?  I then of course went into my standard culinary rant.  'I have a $40,000 piece of paper that says I have the right to make CHICKEN NOODLE FRICKIN SOUP and SELL IT, by gosh don't think your going to ask for CRAP IN A CAN'!  It's typical, they know to expect it.  How did this end you may ask?  She ate two bowls and asked for a third,  I cut her off due to lack of appreciation.

Anyway, hopefully you and yours will appreciate this amazing recipe because I will tell you....everyone loved it...I hope you love it too!

:::Chicken Noodle Soup:::
Olive Oil
1 T. Butter (Optional)
3 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
2 Onions: 1 Cut in chunks, 1 diced
4 Celery Stalks
16 Baby Carrots or 4 Big Carrots: 2 Chunky cut and 2 diced
1/4 Bunch of Parsley, Chopped
12 Cups of Water
Salt & Pepper
8 Ounces of Egg Noodles

In a preheated dutch oven bring olive oil and butter (optional) to a medium high heat.  Place chicken breast in skillet and sear on each side for about 3 minutes each.  Add in (all cut in large chunks, otherwise known as 'rough cuts') 1 onion, 2 Celery Stalks and 6 baby carrots or 2 large carrots, cook until veggies are sweated.  Pour 8 cups of the water over the chicken and veggies.  Cook until chicken is falling apart or falls apart when touched with your spoon.  As water reduces, start adding the remaining 8 cups of water.  This will concentrate the flavor.  Meanwhile, in a tablespoon of olive oil (heated) in a saute pan begin to saute the remaining diced onion, 2 diced celery stalks, 2 diced large carrots and parsley.  Once saute, turn stove top off and let sit.  Once all 8 cups of water have been incorporated, remove chicken.  At this point you can emulsify the veggies or remove them, I chose to emulsify because it acts as a bit of a thickening agent to the broth.  At this point, add salt and pepper to taste.  Your chicken broth should taste like it is now enjoyable.  Shred chicken or cut in chunks (whichever you prefer).  Add in sauteed veggies and noodles.  Cook for 7 minutes.  Serve.

Servings:  About 10 Bowlfuls 

Eat Yo' Soup,
Traci.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Hot Dog Buns Recipe

I found this little recipe for hot dog buns and loved it.  The buns turned out fabulous.  I know what you are thinking...why am I not posting an original recipe?  Well - I am a chef but I am NOT a bread maker.  There is a HUGE difference.  I will be posting recipes hopefully very soon that are my very own but until then, I'll ALWAYS give credit where credit is due and this little lady - is awesome.  Her Julia Child voice will catch you off guard in the beginning but she is really great, I hope you appreciate her awesomeness.  Her videos are also great because they show you an angle of which you can actually see her working the ingredients, which my friends, is hard to find...I give you The Bread Kitchen's Titli Nihaan's recipe for Hot Dog Buns.......



Here is a little picture of how mine turned out; the family LOVED them.


I clearly should have folded the edges over a bit more but they were so good!  I will make one adjustment next time and probably throw in some honey at some point. So good.

I also made home-style fries that night.  I just took a cup or so of flour and added in some garlic and onion powder, about a teaspoon each and then about a table spoon of Tony Chachere's Cajun spice. Added about two cups of water (just enough to make the batter soupy).  Stirred it up really good, no lumps.  Then I cut some potatoes after peeling them into eights.  Dredged the potatoes through the batter and fried them in an olive oil / veggie oil mixture at medium high heat.  They cook in about five minutes.  Once they are golden brown, they are ready.  Pull them out of the oil and hit them with a pinch of salt WHILE they are hot.  Fry in batches, be sure NOT to crowd your oil or you will have a bunch of soggy fries or they will all be stuck together.

Dip the fries in the homemade ranch we made a few days ago and thank the good Lord above for fresh ingredients.


X's & O's.
Traci.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Potato & Leek Soup Recipe

My kids like 'Chicken N' Noodle' and 'Tomato' soup by Campbell's.  The only soup they will eat are those two.  Well, once we stopped eating processed foods I had to stop buying them.  The first soup I made for them was potato and leek soup.   I was immediately met with resistance.  The first thing the ask me when busting through the door at 3:23 PM is 'what's for dinner' or 'did you fix us a snack'?  I said we are having potato soup.  Their responses ranged from 'WHAT, seriously?, I don't eat that' and my favorite 'what about the meat?'

One of my culinary school chef instructors Chef Denny Streeter made this amazing potato and leek soup one night on a whim.  I think it was extremely cold outside and since we had class at night everyone pretty much ate during class, whatever it was that we had cooked.  So on our cold Wednesday night last week I decided to try and yes, that soup has stuck with me for the past 8 or so years.  It was just THAT good.

So, I thought I would share the recipe instead of keeping all this goodness to myself.

Potato & Leek Soup
5 T. Butter
1 T. Olive Oil
1 Small White Onion, Diced
1 Celery Stock, Sliced
2 Leeks, Cleaned and Diced
2 Carrots, Cleaned and Diced
2 tsp. Garlic, Diced
8 Russet Potatoes, Peeled and Diced
6 Cups of Stock, Chicken or Vegetable
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
3 T. Flour, AP
1 C. Heavy Cream

In a stockpot over medium high heat melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and olive oil together add in the onion, celery, leeks, carrots and cook stirring frequently for seven minutes until vegetables are well sweated. Add in potatoes and cook for two more minutes, coating with the other veggies.  Add in garlic and cook for two more minutes.  Poor the stock over the vegetables and bring to a boil.  Once at a boil reduce heat and cook until potatoes are completely cooked, stirring occasionally.  In a separate small pot add the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, melt.  Whisk in 3 tablespoons of all purpose flour and whisk for two minutes.  Slowly add in the cream and continue whisking until thickened.  Set mixture aside.  Once potatoes are cooked thoroughly add in the cream mixture and stir till completely dissolved.  The soup will begin to thicken over the next few minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.  At this point you can take the soup and put it into a blender and blend it down or use an emulsion blender, which is what I did.  This allows you to leave the soup as chunky or as smooth as you would like!  Serve and enjoy!

Toppers:  Crispy bacon, cheese, sour cream and chives! Nomnomnom!


                                                                             
Oh and what did the kids say about it?  They devoured it.  Even Tanner, Mr. Picky eater himself.  It was so good and I believe I did Chef Streeter proud.  'I don't eat that' quickly turned into 'Can I have more'!  I hope your family enjoy's it as much as mine did.



Much Love,
Traci





Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Honey White Wheat Bread

I have to tell y'all.  I haven't baked a loaf of bread since culinary school.  I must have watched 22 tutorials before I gave it a go.  So after 2 hours of letting YouTube fire me up enough to get started - I couldn't find my dough hook.  I.COULD.NOT.FIND.MY.DOUGH.HOOK.  So I began to feel uneasy.  Again.  I gave myself this pep talk:

Traci.  You are 3 years old.  Thirty THREE years old.  You can and you will get in that kitchen and make that bread.  You know why?  Because since your genius self said "if it is something we can make, then we are going to make it, not buy it"....Yeah, where did THAT nonsense come from!  So get your butt in gear, march to the kitchen and KNEAD.THAT.DOUGH!

So my YouTube search turned from 'making bread from scratch' to 'making bread from scratch without a dough hook'.  True Story.  Since it was my birthday, I was feeling overly confident.  But let me tell you what:  this girl made some bread and it was f-a-n-t-a-s-t-i-c.  I mean, not only good - it was freaking GREAT!

Oh did I mention that after I couldn't find my dough hook then I suddenly couldn't find my loaf pans.  Yeah - great.  Just flipping great.  Anyway, back to the recipe.   I am in love.  I am in love with bread and with this recipe.  If you make this bread and eat it hot with butter, then you eat it later with a piece of ham slapped in the middle...but wait, then you decide to eat toast for dinner just.so.you.can.eat.it.again!  It is/was so good...I can't eat store bought chemically injected bread again.  No way!  Like - it's not even the same thing!!!!  Just give it a try! You.CAN.Do.IT!!!!

:::Honey White-Wheat Bread:::
:::Ingredients:::

-2 Cups Warm Water (NOT hot)
-1 T. Active Dry Yeast
-1/3 Cup of Oil + More for Rubbing
-1/2 Cup of REALLY good Honey (Local is best)
-1 tsp Salt
-3 Cups of Wheat Flour (I like King Arthur)
-3 1/2 C. White Flour, All Purpose

(1) Add warm water and yeast in a mixing bowl, let set for five minutes to proof the yeast.  Add oil, honey and salt to the water and yeast mixture.  Add in the wheat flour.  Add in the white flour.
(2) After mixing well, flour your surface and turn dough out.  *Knead the dough for ten minutes.  Form into a ball, leave in mixing bowl, rub oil over the top of the ball and finally, cover the dough (while still in the mixing bowl) with a clean cloth or plastic and stick in a warm corner.**   Let the dough rise for an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes.  
(3)  Once it has doubled in size, PUNCH it down and then separate into two even size dough balls by cutting with a knife or dough cutter.  Flour your surface and knead the dough a few times getting rid of any large dough bubbles.  With a floured rolling pin spread the dough out in to a rough rectangle about the width of the bread pan.
(4)  Tightly roll the dough and pinch the ends into the roll.
(5)  Place the dough in a greased bread pan with the seam down.  Repeat for the second ball.  Lightly rub the top of the dough with a little bit of oil and cover again.  Allow the dough to rise until it has risen about 1" above the bread pan.
(6)  Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
(7) Remove and let cool in the pan for five minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack until completely cooled.  Wrap tightly in plastic and place in an air tight container for maximum quality!



*To knead: you have your dough ball, with the heel of your plams you push down and forward, fold the dough over and turn a quarter to the right.  Repeat. Repeat. Repeat 2 million more times.

**It was a really cold day the day that I made the bread so I preheated my oven to 170 degrees and then turned it off before putting the dough in them mixing bowl in the oven to rest and I propped the door open.

Y'all.  Delicious. I mean, there is absolutely no other way to describe it!  So if you are wondering why my loaves do not actually resemble bread loaves....well because I could never find the pan.  I had to use a smaller casserole dish as an improvisation.  Also - I went for the artisan look.  If you want, you can whisk up an egg white and paint the top of the bread about mid way through your cooking time.  It will be all pretty and shinny.  Another option for a topper is to do the egg white and then sprinkle a mild cheese..mozzarella would probably be a great choice!  Just stay away from a cheddar because you are going to get a really yummy strong honey flavor in the bread and the two together would not be all that great.  In fact, it'd probably be pretty gross.

                                  Save a life.  Make your own bread.
                                  (I don't know, it just sounded funny in my head),
                                                             Traci
                                              Aka:  The Bread Maker

Gettin' A Little Saucey Tonight

So, you know that moment in time when you're like (say this in your best Valley girl voice) 'OMG I'm totes out of Ranch dressing, like, what the heck Beck'.  Then this shiny little light bulb goes off 'ding!!!!' and you think 'well I guess I can mix the little packet thingy with the sour cream stuff and totes not look at the calories'.  THEN you go to the drawer to pull out the 'packet thingy' and there is no packet thingy.  Dilemma!  So you walk over to the ol' laptop, desktop, iPad, smartphone, TV app, or whatever is handy and you hit the information superhighway AND you pray to the sweet Lord Jesus that you have whatever is necessary to make some good ol' REAL Ranch Dressing.  That is when you stumble upon this little valuable piece of information, right....here.....wait for it....wait for it.....

:::Ranch Dressing:::
'The REAL Deal'.  **Adapted from the Pioneer Woman's Ranch Dressing Recipe**
Ingredients:
2 Garlic Cloves with a 1/4 teaspoon of salt to make a paste*
1 C. Mayo (I used homemade mayo)
1/2 C. Sour Cream (I prefer Daisy)
1/4 C. Flat Leaf Parsley, Minced
1 tsp. Dill, Minced
1 T. Chives, Minced
1 T. Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 t. Black Pepper (Fresh or Pre-ground)
1 t. White Wine Vinegar
1/4 t. Paprika
6 Dashes of Tabasco (or your favorite hot sauce)
1 C. Buttermilk

Mince all your ingredients that are 'minceable' and whisk all ingredients together! Easy peasy! Refrigerate. For best taste, refrigerate overnight.

This is slap your mama good.  Sorry mama.  I said, "I'm sorry mama"....don't ever say I haven't sang for you because this recipe just had me busting out the Eminem.

Then I thought, hmmmm, I might as well go ahead and make the other two macdaddy of dressings, right?  We are going all homemade so let's get er' done!

**Garlic Paste:  mince your garlic into tiny pieces, add salt, rub your knife blade back and forth, clean mixture off your knife and add back into pile...rub back in forth, mash, smear, combine into a paste.  For the love of God do not, I repeat NOT cut your finger off!

 :::1000 Island:::
Ingredients
3/4 C. Mayo (Again, I prefer homemade)
1/2 C. Ketchup
1/3 C. Sweet Pickle Relish
1 1/2 T. Prepared Horseradish
1 t. Red Wine Vinegar
Hefty Pinch of Salt
Hefty Pinch of Pepper

Combine and whisk!  You'll never buy store bought again!


:::Italian Dressing or Marinade:::

Ingredients
1 C. Olive Oil
1/2 C. Red Wine Vinegar
2 tsp. Garlic, Minced
2 Garlic Cloves, Whole
3/4 tsp. Fresh Italian Parsley, Minced
1/2 tsp. Celery Salt
1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1 tsp. Minced Onion
1/4 tsp. Onion Powder
1/8 tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. Pepper

Combine all ingredients.  Whisk.  Taste a sample and adjust seasoning accordingly.

Okay - I have to admit.  I'm not big on Italian dressing; it is number 2,985 on my list of top 2,985 dressings.  Just sayin'.  This recipe is AMAZING as a marinade.  Take a couple of steaks and marinade them over night or at least for a couple of hours.  Magnificent!

ALL Dressings will last up to a month!  Make sure if you use store bought ingredients that you check expiration dates.  Each recipe made between 1 1/2 cups to 2 cups total.



So that is it for the SAUCIEST story of the week! Ha! See what I did there?  Check back in a few days for homemade recipes on mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard....ya know you want too!

                                                                         Go get your sauce on!
                                                                                Traci Silloway

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Maple Glazed Oven Roasted Pork Chops

In our attempt to rid the kitchen of all the prepackaged convenient items we are getting down to the bare minimum.  I had a pack of pork chops that I purchased a few days back and as I was cleaning out the massive collection of spices that I have accumulated over the past year or so, I found some rather tasty pure Maple syrup.  I thought, what the heck.

Maple Glazed Oven Roasted Pork Chops

1 Pack of Chops, Whichever tickles your fancy...I used a bone-in pack of 12.  
Olive Oil
McCormick's Grill Mates Smokehouse Maple Seasoning
1 T. Butter
1 Small Onion, Minced
1 tsp. Garlic, Minced
1/2 Cup of Good Maple Syrup
1/2 Cup of Water
1 T. Soy Sauce
2 T. Brown Sugar (Light or Dark)
1 t. Chili Powder

In a skillet heat a smidgen of Olive oil (you can use what ever oil is handy) over medium heat.   Preheat over to 375 degrees. Take the maple seasoning and rub into both sides of each pork chop.  Once the oil is ready begin searing off each side to a light golden brown, do not cook all the way through.  As you sear all the chops place them on a lined deep sided cookie sheet or casserole.

In a small sauce pot add in the butter.  Once the butter has melted add in the minced onion and cook for one minute over medium heat, add in garlic, cook an additional three minutes until onion is translucent.  Do NOT let the onion or garlic burn.  Once the garlic and onion have sweated add in the maple syrup and water.  Bring to a boil.  Add in soy sauce, brown sugar and chili powder.  Stir over medium high heat at a boil for about four minutes until the sauce is well combined and begins to reduce.  Reduce heat to low in order to reduce further for about 8 minutes.

Remove from heat.

Take a barbecue brush or mop and mop each pork chop with the glaze. 

Cook for ten minutes at 375 degrees, turn over and mop again.  Cook for an additional ten minutes.

Remove from over and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.  There will be additional sauce in the cookie sheet or casserole dish that can be spooned over the chops while resting and at service.

Yumm-o.

I need to apologize in advance for the picture....the kids attacked the food and I could only take a picture of the leftover 2 chops (out of 12).




                                                                                                Peace, Love and Broccoli Rabe-
                                                                                                            Traci

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Chicken N' Waffles YO!

Okay, so I was totally skeptical.  Totally.  I have read and seen all the yummy goodness that surrounds 'Chicken and Waffles'.  I honestly thought it couldn't be so.  As I mentioned in previous post we are attempting a more clean eating regiment which really consist of knocking out boxed convenient foods.    Any attempt to keep out the chemicals used to preserve food is a good attempt in my book.  So anyway, I had box of Krusteaz waffle mix and it is my favorite in a pinch.  I also had some chicken breast that I had recently purchased ON SALE of course because let's be honest, who can afford boneless skinless chicken breast for a family of six these days without putting an extra mortgage on their home.  Really.  So I thought to myself....JUST DO IT....just go AHEAD and make the waffles and slap the piece of good ol' FRIED chicken yumminess on it! JUST DO IT!  AND let me just say, oh my goodness for all that is kind in the world, for all that is fair and equal about our great land - IT WAS FABULOUS, better than I thought it would be if I had only given it a small smidgen of hope...it was AWESOME!

Go ahead and make your favorite waffle recipe.  If you need one, please let me know in the comments below and I'll give you my best one.  Make the waffles a little extra crispy so that it can withstand the chicken.

Then, make this chicken.  This crispy, slap yo' mama fried chicken.

Ingredients:
6 Chicken Breast, Boneless & Skinless
Veggie Oil for Frying
2 Cups of Self Rising Flour
1 t. WHITE Pepper
1 t. Poultry Seasoning
1 t. Cayenne Pepper
1 t. Salt
1 t. Onion Powder
1 t. Garlic Powder
4 Eggs, Whole
Splash of Worcestershire Sauce
Pinch of Additional Salt
Local Honey

Special Equipment:  Large Ziploc Bag and Meat Mallet

1.  Clean the chicken with a cold water rinse.  Pat dry with a paper towel.  Set aside.
2.  Go ahead and place about 1" of oil in a chefs pan or deep sided skillet.  Turn heat on medium heat.  Allow oil to heat slowly but DO NOT get it too hot.
3.  On a clean dredging dish or plate add flour, pepper, poultry seasoning, cayenne, salt, onion powder and garlic powder.  Mix well with a fork or wire wisk.  Be careful not to throw the flour mix all around!
4.  In an additional dredging dish or deep sided dish crack all four eggs and add Worcestershire sauce.  Mix well.
5.  Take your first piece of chicken breast and place it inside of your ziplock bag.  Beat it half to death with the mallet.  Pound it till about 1/4" thick.
6.  Dredge the pulverized breast into the flour mixture, shake the excess flour off, dip into the egg wash covering with the mixture, shake off excess and dip in the flour mixture again, shake excess off.

7.  Carefully and slowly place chicken breast in the heated oil.  It should sizzle and you will immediately be able to smell its yummy goodness.  OH it is so good.  That smell!
8.  Cook chicken breast for about 4-5 minutes until golden brown then flip to the other side, again, carefully as to not splatter the hot grease.  Cook another 5 minutes until golden brown.
9.  Place cooked chicken breast on a paper bag or paper towels to drain excess grease.
10.  Put your cooked waffle on the plate, top it with the amazing chicken breast you just cooked and then drizzle the best local honey that you can find.

It should look a little something like this.......
 PLUS......
 
 :::::::::::::::::EQUALS::::::::::::::::: 

This is the mother of ALL goodness.  The End.

Peace, Love & Chicken Grease,

Traci




 


Dirty Today, Clean Tomorrow!

Okay.  So we are in process of cleaning out our kitchen of all processed foods.  We are fat, we are tired and we are chemically poisoning ourselves every single day.  It is what it is, let's be honest.  Even if you say it's not...YOU'RE WRONG.  You are just so wrong!  We are pumping our bodies full of chemicals at an alarming rate and I promise you that I'm not a hippy bandwagon go with the flow kind of gal!  I'm not! I like a good cheeseburger and pack of oreos as much as the next fat girl but OH MY WORD!  When you break it down and really get into the nitty gritty of things - HOLY CRAP BATMAN!  Things have got to change....I'm not saying that we are going totally clean eating.  We are cutting out all processed foods such as snacks, soda, flavored drinks, condiments, seasoning packets (ranch dressing, dried onions), pop tarts, waffles.....if it comes in a box or a packet then we will no longer be purchasing it.  We hopefully will be completely homemade by the time summer rolls around.

You know little blueberries that are in muffin mix or the packaged muffins that the kids love?  Let me break that down for you - they're NOT blueberries, they're made with the same chemical that is used to all-weather your RV, they're made from the same chemical that are used to keep your pipes in your vehicle from freezing and last but certainly not least, they are used in the chemical drink that you have to drink before a colonoscopy to 'clean your pipes' out completely.  I'm serious!

There is an excellent documentary called 'Hungry for Change'; we watched it on Netflix recently.  We as American's are paying dearly for convenience.  I hope its worth your life.

The items that we are keeping that would keep us out of the Paleo or Clean Eating groups, we are switching those to organic.  We are not going to give up dairy, meat or sugar (real sugar).  If it is something that you think isn't that big of a deal then you should really, really do a little digging.  As a society we have decided that instead of eating more raw veggies we will just replace THAT measure with the measure of taking a prescription med.  What a great replacement...

This is NOT going to be easy, at all.  This is going to put a huge responsibility on my shoulders to cook every single thing we eat.  When you write it all down and study over it, I promise you will have a 'OMG what have I gotten myself into' moment.  Here is a little example: Cheeseburgers.....I have to make the bread, ketchup, mayo, mustard and pickles. Yeah.  But then you have to think about it like this: I'm having to make the bread, ketchup, mayo, mustard and pickles because ALL of those foods that are so easily grabbed out of the cabinet are ALL LOADED with the same chemicals that can be found in paint thinner!  I made that part up but y'all see where I'm going with it.

I'm 32 (ugh, 33 in a few days) years old and I have been on 2 different blood pressure meds since my first pregnancy, eight years ago.  I'm over it.  I hate taking medication.  My mom and sister both have type 2 diabetes.  I am really overweight and have been for my entire life.  ALL OF THESE ISSUES are because of weight and our choices with food!  It is TIME to get a grip!

It is time to eat to live and STOP living to eat...because that, my friends, is just going to kill you!

I dare you to make 2 changes this week!  Tell me below what 2 changes YOUR family will be making...Ready....SET....GO!!!!

                                                       Love you enough to warn you,
                                                                               T-R-A-C-I

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Just a Little Piece of My Mind

Hi.  

So, I'm married to a man in a wheelchair.  I want to gracefully shed some light on a few things.  First off, I loathe when people say 'God Bless you for doing that'.  Um, doing WHAT exactly?  This phrase belittles me and my husband.  What exactly is 'that'?  It is so infuriating.  Makes my blood boil.  I know people mean well but for the love of all that is good and kind...think BEFORE you speak.

Another one of my favorites is 'was he like that before or after you married him'?  Um, again, LIKE WHAT?  In a wheelchair?  No, I am so conceded and simple minded as a person that I wouldn't have married him had I known he was going to end up in a wheelchair.  Really people, come on, work with me here.  If you too were wondering, yes.  Yes, he was in a wheelchair before we were married.  He was actually in the process of transitioning from crutches to his chair.

Let's see, what else.  'Does IT work'.  Total strangers y'all.  Total strangers.  Yeah, IT works, see these three little crazies around behind me....trust me IT works.  In fact, IT works so well that it made two at once.  Just sayin'.

How about this one: 'I don't know how you do it'.  That one has to be my favorite.  How do I do what exactly?  Tolerate someone that I love in a wheelchair?  Take care of my spouse?

The whole point of this post is to enlighten everyone that living with a spouse in a wheelchair is NOT the end of the world, its not a prison sentence and it isn't even THAT big of a deal.  People like my husband and myself like to be treated just like your husband your yourself!  I'm sure that every husband and wife have issues as we do, sometimes our issues are a little bit different.  He gets on my nerves in the same manner your husband gets on yours!  

All I ask is PLEASE do not pity me (us)!  I can't speak for everyone that is in a similar situation as us but please, treating us differently is completely unnecessary and ultimately....well, its annoying.  I'm certain that nine out of ten times its not meant with cruel intentions but I'm here to say, it makes me crazy.

Anyway, I don't know if this is helpful to anyone or if it ultimately even matters.  I just felt it was necessary to address the situation.  I'm a little rough around the edges, in case you couldn't tell.

Thanks for reading my rant!  

                                                              Traci

Okay - so, I won't be able to sleep at night if I'm not completely honest with you all..........



Monday, January 13, 2014

Curvy Girls

I've been watching this show on Hulu called 'Curvy Girls' and it has inspired me to write this post.  Hold on to your pants.

I have been overweight my entire life, even at my thinnest I was 170 pounds.  I have never been confident about anything below my neckline.  Ever.  Even when I was at my thinnest I lacked confidence.  There was always 'that' person in my life that kept even the tiniest peace of self-confidence from surfacing.

When I was in elementary school the kids would just call me fat or whatever, nothing creative really.  As I got older the one liners started rolling in one after the other.  In middle school it was the girls more so than the boys, which I still to this day find odd.  What happened to girl power?  I actually had one girl who was sitting behind me on the bleachers in gym measure the width of my butt with her feet.  In high school, oh, high school was hell.  Pure hell.  The boys were the main source of my torture.  Whenever there were special things going on in class that involved food, I couldn't eat because of certain individuals and their comments.  One time, in Spanish class we had a 'fiesta', well I decided to eat.  Sure enough, one boy made snorting noises and puffed his cheeks out like a pig.  I was told to not even bother trying out for majorette because I was too fat, I was better suited for color guard.  I was taunted by one boy constantly, he would ask me if I'd walk to school because I surely couldn't fit into a car.  Things of that nature.  Noises.  I have chills now just thinking about those people.  I could totally name names because it is forever etched in my brain but honestly, what good would that do?  None, whatsoever.  You know who you are and I know what goes around comes around.  I hope NO one ever treats your children the way you treated me.

Now, with all that said, I wasn't perfect either.  I had a girl that I was pretty insensitive to in middle school.  We were friends but she was the target of a lot of laughs....it wasn't her weight, it was some choices she made about her clothing, intentionally. Anyway, wrong was wrong and I was wrong.  I have sense apologized for my indiscretions.  She has forgiven me and all is well.

So, now that I have spilled my guts out to you; here is the point of the message.  TEACH YOUR CHILDREN HOW TO TREAT OTHERS.  I don't care if you believe in God, worship peanut butter or are a Jehovah's Witness.  We are ALL human, we are ALL on this planet together, we ALL have to coexist.  I'm straight up here to say, my children WILL not put up with the same crap that I did.  Will not.  I pray to God every single day that they don't have to endure the heckling or that they ever second guess who they are as people due to some other child's ignorance.   Due to some parent's ignorance.  Your children behave like you teach them to behave.  For instance, Haleigh my first born is a bit on the hot-headed side.  Hmmmm, wonder why?  Payton is uber competitive.  Tanner loves playing video games with his dad.  This is HOW we have taught them to be.  All three kids would also give you the shirt of their backs.  Haleigh may insure you have done everything in your power to get your own shirt first but she would eventually hand it over.  I can not say it enough, YOUR children portray who YOU are while they are away from you.

Payton has problems at school already, she is only in second grade.  It doesn't help that she has a twin that weighs fifteen pounds less than she does.  Payton is a big girl, she plays soccer and wrestles year round.  Kids can't tell the difference between 'fat' and 'athletic'.  Payton is NOT fat, she is built like a brick wall.  She already suffers in the confidence department.  When someone calls her fat, she will not tell on them, she will not tell them off, she will just sit there and take it.  Trust me, there is ONLY so much one person can take and those kids that just sit back and take it, take it and take it...well - things often don't end so well for them.  Read the statistics on child suicide.  Be alarmed.  My child will not be a statistic because your child does not know how to treat people.  My child will not be a statistic because YOUR CHILD HAS NO SELF CONFIDENCE AND PICKS ON OTHER PEOPLE BECAUSE THAT IS THE WAY YOU HAVE TAUGHT THEM TO BE.  Shame on you.  Shame on you.

My children aren't perfect, none are.  But I can make one promise.  If they ever even consider another harsh word to another child because of their appearance or anything that is unjust....things will end very badly for them.  They have no idea what kind of wrath they will experience if I EVER find out they have disrespected someone in any manner.  I will make hell look like a dance party.

It makes me sad to know that some of these people that I had to deal with in high school have procreated. May God help us all.  All I can do at this point is hope and pray that they have changed their ways and are raising their children 'right'; raising them to respect each other.  I pray that your children never have to endure what you made me endure, I pray that they choose to respect instead of hate.  I pray, I pray, I pray...each and every day, I pray.  I pray for children and parent's that I do not even know - I'm asking you to do the same.

IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN I'M ASKING YOU TO REMEMBER THIS: The rest of the world has to deal with them when you are finished, please teach them to respect one another.

                                               Sad that I even have to write about this,
                                                                                                  Traci




Sunday, January 12, 2014

Dinner Invitation

Dinner party.  If you had the opportunity to host a dinner party and invite any ten people that you would like (living or not) to any kind of dinner party of your choosing; who would YOU invite?

This isn't a 'Last Supper' kind of request.  Just for fun.... We are going to go ahead and assume your spouse and selected family are all invited; they do not count as far as keeping tabs on numbers.


Mr. Tatum
#10.  Channing Tatum.  I'm not sure about his intellectual ability to hold his place in a conversation but let's face it, total eye candy.  You always need something pretty to look at, right?  He is an Alabama native and just so happens to be hot as fire.  I tell you what, I hope Jenna Dewan-Tatum knows what she has gotten herself into (literally)....she isn't invited to the party.  Sorry Jenna.


Stefanie
#9.  Stefanie Battle.  
Well.  You may not know her yet but she is my bff, for reals y'all; for 26 years now.  You can get to know her over at Kiss My Southern Sass, we totally have the 'sisters from another mister' going on.  I will warn you, she is the grammar police.  Why would I invite her?  Because I can talk to her without using words at this fabu dinner party.  We can exchange evil glares and talk behind peoples backs.......right in front of their faces.  We are just....that...good.  Holla back Sta-nay-nay....holla back.

BDB Series
#8.  JR Ward.  She is my favorite author.  I didn't start to read until I was 26 years old and actually started with the "Twilight" series.  Let me rephrase that, I read what my high school English teacher forced me to read, shout out to Mrs. Thompson.  I can still recite Romeo & Juliet till this day.  Anyway, JR Ward has the imagination that is so far-fetched and so incredibly unbelievable, yet she takes these thoughts, these ideas and has the most uncanny way of making you think that you are reading non-fiction.  Crazy.  If you are a fantasy genre fan then she is your woman....'Black Dagger Brotherhood' series, look it up.  My forever favorite vampires, sorry Edward.  Click HERE to visit her site.  You will not go wrong with any of her series! Three thumbs up! 

#7.  Julia Child.  Julia Child is my favorite chef, ever.  I love her classical French approach but most importantly I just adore her story.  I own several of her cookbooks and I can honestly say that her recipes are usually the only ones that I ever follow word for word because she knew what she was doing.  She lead an awesome life and I enjoy reading about it and watching her old shows.  She is awe inspiring.  Her thoughts on food and diet still linger with me! "“The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook.”~Julia Child.


Julia

#6.  Johnny Depp.  I have no valid reason for inviting him with the exception of he is Stefanie's imaginary boyfriend.  That is all.
Johnny D.


Rev Run
#5.  Rev Run.  I adore Rev Run.  I can only imagine how much fun he is at dinner parties.  I don't care to much for his brother, seems a little too retentive for my style.  One could only hope that he would bust out with a few oldies but goodies from Run DMC.  

#4.  Morgan Freeman.  He is my favorite actor and I could listen to him for days on end.  He is 'that' person that is a little bit of everything: smart, funny, kind....I really, really enjoy his work.  
#3.  Pink.  Alecia Beth Moore.  She is my favorite singer.  I love her voice, her fierceness.  Her badassness.
Pink
She is amazing.  I don't really have to much to elaborate on her here besides the fact that I want to be her when I grow up.  Totes.


Nigella Lawson
#2.  Nigella Lawson.  'The Domestic Goddess'.  I enjoy everything about this woman.  The way she looks, the way she dresses, her accent!  Her cookbooks.are.amazing!  She is on that new show 'The Taste' with Anthony Bourdain.  She isn't a trained chef yet she has great recipes, tons and tons of recipes.  It isn't as easy as opening up good ol' Betty Crocker but she has super yummy complex flavored recipes.  She rallies for the home cook, pulls for them to the end.  She is the epitome of a 'Domestic Goddess'. With all that said, she is going through some devastating personal  issues right now that I hope she figures all that out.  As a cook, she is amazing.  



AND.....my #1 is.........


Nene Leakes.  


Okay, so why Nene?  Well, we both use to be strippers.  HA! Only kidding.  Seriously.  I've never even seen the inside of a strip club.  Not to mention, I'm fat.  Anyway, Nene appears to be the life of the party.  She is a beautiful woman and oh so hilarious!  She seems to be that girlfriend that you can just call up at random and say 'hey, whatcha doin'?  I don't know, I just enjoy watching Nene.  I've always been a huge fan of The Real Housewives of Atlanta but during the wedding, wait, the second wedding to her husband Gregg, you can really see how she has evolved as a person.  The 'old' Nene would bite someones head off without even thinking twice - 'new' Nene has found her 'simmer down' button but is still as crazy as the day is long!  The gives the term 'Southern Woman' a whole new meaning! Rock on Nene, rock on.



This dinner party would rock!  Please don't judge my depth as a person based on this particular list.  I was going the fun route, not so much the intellectual stimulant route. Hehehehe.

                                                                                                 Much Love,                                                                                                            Traci


PS....Those that almost made the list include: Bruce Willis, Chris Rock, Bill Clinton, Anthony Bourdain, Ina Garten, Ellen Degeneres and Hugh Laurie.  


1/13/2014
:::::UPDATE::::: I left off a very important person.  I'm hanging my head low today because I just forgot!!!!  Jennifer Lawrence would be there, I'd just have to make an 11th plate.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

What's Shakin' Bacon?!

I made the best.pasta.ever on Friday night.  Oh it was Heaven in a pot, love on my plate, party.in.my.mouth! It was divine.  As in, there were some major Divine intervention going on in my kitchen when all this came together.  You wanna know the key ingredient don't ya?  Bacon.  Need I say more?   So, for all the bacon lovers out there, get ready to gitcha bacon on.  Ohhhh, I'm bringing sexy back, right...about...now.

Bacon Pasta...Just go with it.

Ingredient List
1 Lb. Bacon, 1" Diced
1 Lb. Egg Noodles, Cooked
1 T. Olive Oil
1 Onion, thin sliced
1/2 Green Cabbage, thinly sliced-cut the cabbage in half and then shred thinly with your knife
2 tsp. Garlic, minced
2 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 Cup of Stock
Pinch of Salt
Pepper
Parmesan Cheese, Shaved


Bacon SMELL
1 Lb. of the best bacon you can find.  My favorite bacon is the Apple Wood Smoked Bacon from DJ's Fine Meats in Alabaster (Alabama).  I love this little meat market.  So you take this bacon and you are going to cut it into 1" pieces.  Throw it all into a pot that has been heated to a medium high heat with one tablespoon of olive oil.  Immediately when the bacon hits the pot this sizzle, pop, pop action is going to happen and that whiff of bacon-y love is going to pelt you in the face and you are going to 'ahhhhhhh, that smells soooo good'.  Make sure you take a wooden spoon and spread the pieces out evenly so that it doesn't steam but gets very crispy. You can slowly turn the heat up towards the high side but keep an eye on the bacon.  Meanwhile...

Bacon & Onions
Bacon-y Goodness
Throw the sliced onion in and cook for one minute.  Add the shredded cabbage next and toss to coat in the bacon-y love. Toss in garlic and cook till golden, one minute.  Add the apple cider vinegar, stock (chicken or veg), pinch of salt and the amount of pepper that is perfect for you!  Reduce for 2 minutes.  Your mixture should be well coated with the bacon-y love at this point. Turn that burner OFF!  
Mixed Together

Cook 1 lb. of Egg Noodles (or your favorite pasta) according to package directions and drain.  Once the pasta has been drained you are going to combine the bacon cabbage mixture with the pasta and just fold it in until well combined.




Plate it up and top with shaved Parmesan cheese.


This is amazing, fantastic, no, it is phenomenal.  Not healthy, but still....phenomenal.  

           Love, Peace & Bacon Grease,
                                                  Traci


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Don't Be Chicken...

We have a saying in our home......


It amazes me that even though I have a very expensive culinary degree that says 'call me Chef'', my kids STILL will beg for McDonald's, Captain D's or Taco Bell all.the.time!  It's so annoying.  I say the same thing every time, 'YOUR MOTHER HAS A VERY EXPENSIVE CULINARY DEGREE AND YOU WANT FREAKY MEAT FROM MCDONALDS"???? What?!

It doesn't happen often.  In fact, part of our 'lifestyle' change in the Silloway house has been to eliminate eating out.  Its just so convenient during sporting seasons...but just so bad for you!  We have eaten out once in the past couple weeks and that was because I was feeling like crap-ola and its my job to do the cooking so I sprung for chicken sandwiches instead.  You would have thought the kids won the lottery.

Since Wednesday night is our only free night, I have decided to start making it a theme night...my theme is Gourmet Wednesday.  Exciting isn't it?  Okay, so it is exciting for me.  Last night was the first Gourmet Wednesday night meal and we had Sauteed Chicken Breast with Fresh Veggie Risotto over a bed of Caramelized Onions topped with a Hollandaise sauce.  One word for you: nomnomnomnomnom.  It was so good.  Payton, my sweet child was fired up; she was so very excited.  Haleigh said 'I want that yella sauce mama and just the chicken'.  I immediately said, 'it doesn't work that way'.  Tanner said 'oh gahhhhhh I'm eating cereal'.  He is NOT so much on the fancy.  I told him that surely he was not going to be eating cereal and he could go ahead and sit his rear down in his seat.  He pouted but he got over it rather quickly.   I plated the dish and served it.  Doug, the hubby licked his bowl clean (actually just ate the leftovers tonight), my Mom even enjoyed it and for those of you that know her, you know that is a sheer miracle in itself.  Payton was excited about her fancy dinner and ate it 'all gone gone', Haleigh pitched a holy fit because she didn't like the Hollandaise. We stirred it up and she was fine.  Tanner.....well, he was hungry when he went to bed.  He at the chicken but decided against the rice because of the asparagus, it was foreign to him.  

We do have the rule that you can eat what mom is serving or you can not eat.  It is a pretty simple rule.  I'm not going to MAKE my kids eat but they aren't going to tell me something is gross when they haven't even put a spoonful in their mouths.  They threaten to 'not eat' and then I threaten to 'not care' and I constantly remind them that breakfast is just around the corner from dinner.  

So, I wanted to share my recipe with y'all because it was so good and easy to do.

The chicken breast were purchased on sale at Publix during their fantastic buy one get one free sale.  So seven breast were right at six dollars.  

Saute Chicken Breast:

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
Olive Oil
Butter
Salt and Pepper

This is just a standard saute.  I cleaned the chicken breast and trimmed the skin and fat, patted them dry and sprinkled the salt and pepper over the one side.  In the heated saute pan (medium heat) I added a little olive oil, one circle around the pan and put the breast in (you should have a snap, crackle, pop going on).  Remember, do not overcrowd the pan because it will steam your chicken not saute it.  Get a good sear on it and turn it over. Towards the end of cooking I add a pat of butter.  I don't add it earlier because butter burns a lot quicker than oil.  If you add it at the end then it will just flavor the meat.  Cook remainder of chicken. Put into a dish and cover with tinfoil for holding, this is also known as 'resting'.  Chicken should temp at 160 degrees. If not, the next day chances are you will be in a Salmonella induced puke fest.  Enjoy.

While your chicken is cooking you can go ahead and start the Caramelized Onions:

1 Onion, thinly sliced
3 Garlic Cloves
2 T. Butter
1 T. Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Slice the onions not paper thin but still thin.  Mince garlic.  Heat olive oil and butter over a medium heat.  Once butter has melted toss in onions and saute for two minutes, add in raw garlic.  Once garlic has been added cook until it turns golden.  Garlic burns easily.  Burnt garlic will ruin the entire pans contents.  Once garlic has been cooked sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Evenly disperse in the bottom of your bowls or serving dishes.

Start your Risotto. 

Olive Oil
1 Onion, Diced
14 Asparagus Stalks (Snap where the stalk bends), Diced in 1" pieces
2 Cups of Aborio Rice
6 Cups of Stock (Veggie or Chicken)
Salt and Pepper
Parmesan Cheese

Saute the onion and asparagus for two minutes in the olive oil.  Add in the Aborio rice and continue sauteing for three minutes.  Add in two cups of the stock.  YOU MUST CONTINUALLY STIR THE RICE ONCE YOU ADD IT INTO THE PAN! DO not STOP STIRRING!!!  Once the rice has absorbed the stock begin adding in the remainder of stock one cup at a time.  Once all stock has been absorbed add in as much or as little Parmesan that you want but remember Parmesan cheese is VERY salty.  After the cheese has melted, taste and add salt and pepper to taste.  The texture should be al dente but creamy and oh.so.good.....

Hollandaise Sauce

Do this last, its quick.

4 Egg YOLKS
1 Stick of Butter, Melted COMPLETELY
1 T. Lemon Juice, Fresh
4 Shakes of Tabasco or Favorite Hot Sauce
Salt and Pepper to Taste

This will 'break' easily so be sure to follow the instructions exactly and do not attempt to improvise.  

Simmer water in a pot (that will be holding your stainless steel bowl), making a double boiler kind of scenario.  Just have it ready.  In a stainless steel bowl whisk your separated eggs and lemon juice together until doubled.  WHISK it girl WHISK IT!  Once doubled, hold the stainless steel bowl over the heat and continue to whisk.  The best thing to do at this point is have someone drizzle the melted butter in and you continuously whisk.  If not possible then pour in a little butter and whisk, repeat until butter is done.  This is the point where most hollandaise break.  If you pour all the butter in at once then there isn't any hope, I can guarantee that.  Drizzle, drizzle, drizzle!!! Its a must.  Keep whisking till sauce has thickened.  Once it has thickened remove it from the heat and add it the salt and pepper to taste and a few shakes of Tabasco.  Whisk till combined.


Plating:

Bottom:::Onions on bottom,
Next::::::::Veggie Risotto
Next::::::::Chicken Breast, Sliced or Whole
Bottom:::Drizzle of Hollandaise


Please forgive the terribleness of my iPhone camera.  It sucks.  I'm aware.

Your Welcome.

I encourage you to try different things at home.  It doesn't have to be Gourmet Wednesday but could be as simple as Taco Tuesday.  A family that eats together.......gets fat.  Ha! I kid.

                                                                                     Ciao! 
                                                                                           Chef Traci Lyn