Sunday, November 12, 2017

Beginner crochet, crafting and confessions...

Crochet Hat - Tuk (beginner)
It has been a great while since we last spoke, yes?  I know!
How have you been?  Does life seem to get in the way of your life as well? 

I've been cooking, but as discussed before, by the time I come home from work, I literally have no "daylight" left.  Any food blogger will tell you; "natural lightening is mandatory".  Plus it takes a great effort to not only take the pictures, but to write up the post too.  I'm not a big blogger, so I don't use VA's or otherwise known as virtual assistants.  It's just me, myself and I.  
Let's add in taking care of mom and all the household responsibilities entailed for both homes...
See what I mean?  So, looking for a "de-stressor" I started crafting.  At first I played around, but lately I've been making gifts for the upcoming holiday and to be honest with you?  I'm loving it!  I'm a beginner crocheter but the projects I am making all using Youtube tutorials are so fast and they come along so easily, it keeps me motivated!  I also love to bead, and have quite a collection, so I've been a busy bee.

Those are the earrings and a headband I made for two coworkers.
The earrings I didn't need a tutorial on, but the headband I did.  I followed the instruction for the headband, I just used a different stitch.

I made a pumpkin for both my mom and myself for work too.  They are life size, they are so darn cute and easy! 

 My mom's.

Mine at work, notice I added beads, because you know, I can...

Then, oh wait there is more!  My daughter and discovered the world of "looming", who knew?  This is our first looming project together.  My daughter was impatiently waiting for her turn to weave, till I caved in and bought more supplies!

Loom a scarf (Beginner) 
I normally am a giver, but this year I wanted to treat myself for my birthday for once.  Below is "my infinity" scarf I made using a loom.  It was so easy to make, that I was able to meet my goal and wear it on my birthday, I love the fall colors!
Plus I took the day off and treated myself to a mani - pedi too! Score!

 Infinity Scarf (Purl Stitch)
I even did something whimsical and made a mouse (amigurumi) for my son's girlfriend cat.  They tell me he loves it!

 Mouse - Amigurumi (beginner project)

So that is what "I have been doing".  I hope you liked the crafts, the different format the blog is seeming to take on.  
Drop me a line, let me know if you like projects like these what have you.  I know there will be many more in my future!

Till next time!

Dishin with Didi

Monday, August 28, 2017

French Onion Beef Pie

 So I have been binge watching a "brilliant" British show these days.  Notice the use of the word brilliant?  It's called the "The Great British Baking Show".  Here is the link; The Great British Baking Show

It's full of flavor combinations, extreme talent, artistry and believe it or not, even though it is a competition...
Kindness with each other.  They are not only kind to one another, but they encourage each other, and even give out a helping hand.
Call me old fashioned, but I'm loving it!

So it inspired me to bake.  As you know I do not really have a sweet tooth, so savory pies caught my attention.  What really caught my attention was this one form of crust I had never heard of called; "hot water crust pastry".  Hmmm...
Well I had to try it, no I really did, I was obsessed if you must ask.
I searched frantically for the crust recipe.  I found quite a few on the internet, and I will link below the one I used.
Then the question remained as to what to  fill it with.  An idea was casually forming in my mind if I have to be honest, I wanted a beefy and onion flavor of some kind.  I really love French onion soup, and what is not to love about the bread underneath all gooey with cheese?  "Aha", the rest as they say is history!  

This pie is absolutely delicious, and not just because I made it.  I feel like I am eating, literally French onion soup with beef.  Beefy, chock full of carmelized onions and the cheese, oh my goodness, we cannot forget the cheese!

So take a whirl with me my friends, it can be a little "fiddly" as the British say, but so worth it! 

Prep Time:  1 hour
Bake Time: 60-65 minutes
Yield: 8 


Hot Water Crust Pastry
*Next time since I doubled the recipe I  will add 3 cups of flour*

French Onion Filling:
5 cups onions, sliced thin in half moons
4 tbsp (60ml) butter, unsalted
2 tbsp (30ml) olive oil
1 tsp (5ml) salt
1 tsp (5ml) black pepper
1- 1/2 tsp (7.5ml) sugar
2 tbsp (30ml) all purpose flour
1 can (290g) condensed French Onion Soup, undiluted
8 Wheat Toasted Rusks broken into pieces

1-1/2 cups shredded melty cheese, like Gruyere or Mozzeralla

Stew Beef: 
1 lb (450g) stew beef, diced
2 tbsp (30ml) olive oil 
1 tbsp (15ml) Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp (5ml) black pepper
1 tsp (5ml) dried thyme
2 tsp (10ml) garlic powder

-In a medium pan add the butter and olive oil.  Add your onions and saute over medium heat till they have softened and reduced in volume, about 20 minutes.  

-As the onions are rendering, in a medium saute pan, add the olive oil and once heated, add the diced stew beef.  Saute until no longer pink and then add your spices along with the Worcestershire sauce.
Let saute over medium heat till all juices have evaporated and the pan is dry.  Set aside.

-Follow the instructions for the hot water crust and when the dough has been formed into a ball, let rest for about 25 minutes. 

-The onions should be nicely rendered down.  Add the salt, pepper, and sugar.  Saute for just a minute more, the sugar helps to caramelize the onions.  Add in the flour and cook for another additional 2 minutes until you can no longer see the flour.

-Add in the undiluted French Onion soup and the beef stew.  Let cook for 5 more minutes and turn off heat and let cool. 

-Preheat oven to 375F (190C).

-In your pie tin of choice, roll out half the crust, place in tin and ensure that the dough is slightly overlapping.  
Add 4 rusks broken up randomly, then the onion beef filling, top with remainder of the rusks and then finally the cheese.  Add the other half of the dough to the top of the pie and crimp edges ensuring the filling is well sealed. Place 3 slits on top of the pie so the steam can escape.

You should have a little left over dough.  You can freehand cut and decorate your pie if you would like, or not.  I chose to decorate, I mean I was inspired by their artistic designs!  

-Bake for 60-65 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool for 35 minutes prior to cutting.  I highly recommend the pie tins that you can push up from  the bottom and it removes the sides.

I served it simply with fresh summer tomatoes drizzled with olive oil, a pinch of kosher salt and oregano.

Till next time!

Dishin with Didi

Monday, June 26, 2017

Pretzel Dinner Rolls/Buns

I have been making these rolls/buns for quite a few years now, and I am here to tell you (since you all know how NOT A BAKER I AM), that these amazing beauties come out perfectly each and every time!

This recipe is by my good friend Wendy.  I am here to announce they are P-E-R-F-E-C-T-I-O-N!

They are easy as all get out to make, and they are absolutely delicious!

Here is my friend Wendy's recipe;    Wendy's Pretzel Rolls

Trust me when I share with you that I am not a baker of any kind.  So "if I can do it"...

Right?  They are hearty, beautiful and deliciously addicting! 

I think the best part is having your family and friends be totally amazed at your skills and seriously cannot believe you have made them!  To which you bat your eyelashes profusely, paste on your best smile - and politely tell them;  "you bet your dickens I made these babies"!

So with summer just starting and grilling season just beginning, don't walk, run over to the recipe and make them!  Perfect hamburger buns that will blow all other buns out of the water!

Amaze your family and friends I say, sit back and drink in the compliments!

Till next time!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Lebanese Food - Hadia Lebanese Style Recipes - Cookbook Review

My good friend Hadia from Hadia's Lebanese Cuisine
was gracious to send me her cookbook.  When I received the book, I was like a kid in a candy store.  I opened it up immediately and started looking thru.

Not only was I reviewing the cookbook and salivating, I brought it over when I would visit mom and was reading her the recipes and showing her the mouth watering pictures as well.  Can I just say, this book is chock full of pictures personally taken by our good friend!

This cookbook is literally next to none, and let me tell you, I have a ton of cookbooks.  I used to have about 300 and have since paired down to about 25, so when I tell you this cookbook is absolutely beautifully done I mean it.  Hadia was kind enough to translate metric for her American readers.  Her step by step, is literally that, step by step, no steps missing.  Her ingredients are fresh, homemade, which do not require a zillion ingredients but most of all, they are not labor intensive!

 She has meticulously explained every ingredient if you have to purchase it, and even how to even substitute that said ingredient if need be so you don't have to stop in the middle of  recipe and say to yourself; "dang it, I don't have..."  Right?  I hate that!  I also hate those really weird exotic ingredients that cost a fortune, which you will only use 2 tsp at the most and never use it again.  
Hadia must share our thoughts and frustrations!

There were quite a few recipes that caught my mom's eye.  I have about 7 more I need to make for her as soon as possible is the command!
Mom's first recipe she wanted to try out was Hadia's Zalabbia.  They are fried dough with sesame seeds and anise seeds, coupled with just a smidgen of sugar?  Heaven! Absolute heaven!
I love Hadia's tip of putting in 3 small holes into the strips prior to frying.  It's absolutely genius I say!  You are going to ask me; "Didi why are you so excited about 3 small holes into the dough"?  
Well my friends, why it so genius is because you can see through the holes that the one side is now nicely golden and can then flip over to the other side.  See?  I told you genius. 

 The Zalabbia's are crispy, absolutely not greasy at all, and that is very important!  They are slightly sweet, they are nutty with the addition of the sesame seeds and possess a light Anise flavor which translates my friends into a bite of heaven!  These are absolutely perfect for breakfast, or an afternoon munchie...
Hadia recommends a Lebanese cream cheese "Labneh", or you can slightly sprinkle them with powdered sugar.  

Mom and I tried both these versions and LOVED THEM!  Mom loved the sprinkled powder sugar, she has such a sweet tooth I say! I tried something different and dipped them in a combination of Tahini w/ honey.  OH MY GOODNESS! The combination of the Tahini with honey along with the the slightly sweet, nutty Zalabbia's?  That was my most favorite combination! Mom tried it and also promptly fell in love just as I did!

We love this cookbook so much I ordered my mom one for a surprise Mother's Day gift.  I know I will be making them, but as long as I keep my mom interested and wanting to create?  That is a score onto itself!
So order yourself a copy of this cookbook, I cannot stress this 
enough!  You can order here;   Hadia Lebanese Style Recipes

When you get your cookbook, do what I did; grab yourself a cup of tea, and start bookmarking the recipes you will be making first...

Till next time!

Dishin with Didi

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Mom's Not Well

 Hello my friends
Mom had a heartache 3 weeks ago.  Actually she had 1 major and 2 mini heart attacks.  She was in SC visiting my sister for 10 days when I received word.  Mom ended up in the hospital for 9 of those 10 days. 
They say she had fluid around her heart, and they had to remove the fluid before they could go in to put in the 2 stents.  That is when she had the two smaller ones.  She is still not doing well, and what is most upsetting to be honest, is that I feel she is giving up.  
She is not acting herself, what used to give her huge pleasure, shopping, going out to lunch, cooking, baking...
Doesn't seem to interest her any longer.  She is most determined in getting her affairs in order.  She's obsessing over it to be quite honest.  Am I worried?  Let's put it to you this way.  I'm barely sleeping! 

Needless to say; I've been busy.  Working, taking care of mom, taking care of my cowboy, making sure the children are okay, the house, the dogs...

Have I had time to cook?  Oh yes! 
Have I had time to make and share anything new with you?  
Please forgive my absence.  Mom is one of the most important people in my life!  I lost my dad when I was just a very young teenager, so she is all the parents I have left.  I cannot imagine the world without her...

Till next time!
Dishin with Didi

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Cauliflower Mash Shepards Pie

 I can honestly tell you this rocked!  I mean literally rocked!  My husband and child were fighting for the leftovers, what?  That never happens.  What's even more surprising is how easy this was to put together, I made this on a weeknight.

Hubby had NO CLUE these were not mashed potatoes, he kept looking at me like; "honey why are you making me mashed potatoes"?  I just smiled, you know that smile where you know something your partner doesn't know?  Yes, that smile.  Waited till he was half finished with his piece to finally tell him, these are not mashed potatoes...
I should of taken a picture, I really should of by the look of total surprise on his face!

Ready for the recipe?  Here we go;

Prep time: 25 minutes
Bake time: 35-40 minutes
Yield: 12 servings

Meat mixture
2lbs ground beef (I used 90/10)
1 large onion, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1 cup frozen peas (still frozen)
1 packet (.87oz) brown gravy 
1/3 cup water
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt 
1 tsp pepper

Cauliflower Mash
1 large head cauliflower, roughly chopped
4 tbsp butter
1/4-1/3 cup milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper (can use black)

-Prep and dice vegetables, set aside.  Place cauliflower into a medium stock pan, add enough water to cover and boil till cauliflower is tender.  About 12-15 minutes. 

-Preheat oven to 375F.

-Spray a 13 X 9 baking sheet with non stick cooking spray, set aside. 

-In a large skillet, brown ground beef till no longer pink.   Add in the onions and saute for a few minutes till they are just beginning to become translucent.  Add in the diced carrots and cook for just a minute or so longer. 

-Sprinkle the brown gravy packet over the beef mixture.  Add in the Worcestershire sauce, water, salt, pepper and thyme.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes till all the flavors have been combined.  

-Mix in your peas and place beef mixture onto the bottom of your baking pan, set aside.

- Meanwhile, the cauliflower should be done at this point.  Drain cauliflower and return back into same pan.  Add in the butter and using an immersion blender, blend the cauliflower with the butter.  Slowly add in your milk.  Blend till you have a smooth consistency. 

-When cauliflower mash is to your liking add in the the salt & pepper to taste.  

-Blend in the beaten egg.  This will ensure the mash stays on top of the beef mixture.

-Pour and spread the mashed cauliflower over the meat mixture, spread evenly to the edge, ensuring all meat mixture is covered.

-Bake for 35-40 minutes till edges are starting to become golden.

Let rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting.

My family thoroughly enjoyed this, and what I loved most of all?  It was healthy!  I hope your family enjoys it as much as we did.

Till next time!

Dishin with Didi

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Gingerbread Pork Rind Cake - Review

My husband had been wanting something sweet.  For my readers that have been following me for a while, you know I do not really have a sweet tooth.  My husband on the other hand?  Yeah!
I had to keep it low sugar and lower carb.  My post here; Managing Diabetes - The Wife's Confession

I searched the internet for low carb recipes.  I came across this one with very good reviews.  Cinnamon Spice Pork Rind Cake
I was adamant however to not use fake sweeteners as the recipe called for, but to reduce the amount of sugar the recipe called for, using real sugar. 

Coupled with the orange cream cheese frosting?   It tasted like gingerbread cake, you would not realize there is no flour in this cake, but the base starts with pork rinds.  I did make a few alterations, here are my variations below. 

Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 30-35 minutes
Yield: 10-12 

2 pkgs plain Pork Rinds (3.5 oz or 99.2g), ground
3/4 cup sugar 
1 cup milk ( I used whole percent)
2 tbsp white vinegar
5 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1-1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
7 egg whites
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup boiling hot water
1/4 cup chopped pecans

-Preheat oven to 350F.

-Grind the pork rinds in a food processor till they are crumbs, place in a medium bowl and set aside.

-Separate the eggs, whites from yolks.  Reserve 4 egg yolks for the recipe.  Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer till stiff peaks form, set aside.

-Measure your dry ingredients, and place in the bowl with the pork rind crumbs.

-Measure out the milk and in a small bowl, add the white vinegar and mix till thoroughly combined, set aside.  This is called "souring".

-With a whisk, mix the dry ingredients to make sure they are evenly distributed.  Then with a hand mixer, add in the hot water, the eggs, one at a time till incorporated.  Finally add in the milk mixture till combined.

-Fold in the egg whites to the batter till they are fully folded in.

-Fold in the chopped pecans.

-Spray your baking pans with non stick baking spray and divide batter evenly between 2 - 8" inch round pans.

-Bake for 30-35 minutes till cake pulls away from side, about 32 minutes in my gas oven.

-Remove from oven and place on cooling racks for a few minutes.  After a few minutes, invert cakes from pans onto cooling racks.

-Once cooled, frost cakes first the middle and then the sides and tops with your favorite cream cheese frosting.

*I used my favorite cream cheese frosting, but cut back on the sugar to 1/3 a cup of confectioner's sugar, 2 tsp good vanilla and then added in the zest of 1 large grated orange - the frosting was simply delicious*

Good Vanilla;  

The cake is moist!  Just like the other reviews state, the cake doesn't rise very much even though there is baking soda, powder & eggs, probably because of the heaviness of the pork rinds.  
Will I be making this again?  No!  It had a very weird rubbery like texture.  My husband and children agreed on the texture, and so did a coworker as well being my foodie buddie and pal.  I ended up throwing the rest of the cake out to be honest, what a waste of time and money!
I took pictures and shared my personal review of the cake for you, because even though the internet is our friend...
It's not always truthful!

I will stick to "almond flour" base recipes moving forward.  

Till next time!
Dishin with Didi

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Managing Diabetes - The Wife's Confession

So, time to fess up to the true reason I haven't been posting regularly as of late.  I have been a little busy, well actually I have been surprisingly busy!

My husband was recently diagnosed with Type II diabetes.  His fasting blood sugars were literally out of control, along with his HgbA1C.  
He came home from his routine physical almost in tears, with blood glucose monitor and testing strips in hand.  

Let me preface this by saying that my husband is the most stoic of men.  He's strong, silent, compassionate, supporting but most of all, he's a fantastic husband and father!  So to see this man of mine scared for this first time ever?  Well, "I" had to do something to help him.
We sat down and had a long heart to heart.  We decided that we were going to go high protein, low carb, with healthy fats, lots of vegetables, legumes...
Basically back to my very Greek roots.  I also do not believe in any fake sugars or substitutes.  So the foods that I would be making that have a higher carb count, or sugar count, well they would not be off limits, just not served that often.

So our dinners started to look like this;

Ginger Curry Beef Noodle Soup

and this...

 Garlic Parmesan Wings - Baked not Fried

or this...

Dan Dan Noodles - chock full of Bok Choy, beef broth, ground beef, seasonings and just a smidgen of noodles w/ the goodness of half an egg for extra protein. 

Cauliflower mash, garlic wilted spinach, Baby Bella scampi and the star?  Garlic, lime grilled shrimp.  Hubby had absolutely no idea these were not mashed potatoes, he was totally blown away that they were cauliflower, he's now a firm believer!

Breakfast you ask?  

With healthy snacks like hummus with crudites, nuts, cheese slices etc.

The results?  Hubby has last 43lbs!!  His fasting blood sugars have fallen almost 200 points and his HgbA1C?  Reduced by 4 points as well.  His endocrinologist is absolutely thrilled.  He still has some weight to lose and reduce his A1C.  His doctor said that if he can reduce his A1C by a few more points he is going to take him completely off his medication!

So my friends, I have been busy, helping my husband, making sure his meals are colorful, delicious and good for him.  I hope my confession helps you, helps anyone...
My intention was to help you understand that diabetes can be managed, maybe eliminated if we just go back to our roots and start eating real food!

I hope you enjoy the recipes I will be sharing with you as much as we do!

Thank you so much for supporting me and following me, especially thru my long absences. ♥ ♥

Till next time!
Dishin with Didi

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Ginger Curry Beef Noodle Soup - Gluten Free

 It's been a long time since I posted hasn't it?  "Oh Vey"!  Life seems to get in the way of best intentions...

Anyhoo, this soup is absolutely delicious!  That's all I'm saying, seriously! Chock full of beef, rice noodles, spinach, sweet potatoes... See?  I'm not going to preface any further, I'm going right to the recipe.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Yield:  4-6 servings

3 Tbsp grapeseed or coconut oil
1 lb beef cut into small strips
1 medium red onion, diced
3 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce, (I used low sodium)
1 Tbsp mild curry powder
2-1/2 tsp mild chili powder
1/2 tsp (or more if you like) cayenne pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 can coconut milk
64 oz vegetable broth
2 limes, juiced - aka; juice of 2 limes
1 sweet potato, cut into matchsticks
1 8oz bag of fresh spinach

  1 8.8 oz bag of rice noodles (see above - click on link to order if you like) - or go shopping... *grin*

Toppings optional: Green onions, cilantro, lime, chopped fresh chilies

-Prep all your vegetables, measure all your spices and set aside.

-In a medium stock pot, add the grapeseed oil, let heat and saute your beef strips till nicely browned.

-Add in diced onion and minced ginger.  Cook for a few minutes till everything starts to look golden. 

-Add in the soy sauce, curry powder and chili powder and cook for a few minutes till the spices are aromatic.

-Add the garlic, coconut milk, broth and lime juice, turn heat down to low and let simmer for about 15 minutes or so.

-Soak rice noodles in cold water for 15-20 minutes, and drain.

-Add the sweet potato match sticks to the soup and continue to simmer.  Once sweet potatoes are tender about 5-10 minutes, add in the spinach, stir in until spinach starts to wilt.  About 2-3 minutes.

To serve:

Add drained rice noodles to the bowl...

Ladle in that decadent soup...

Top with green onions and lime if so desired, and I so so desire...

and dig in...

Till next time!

Dishin with Didi