Thursday, May 26, 2016

Loquat Crumble Pie

These are the loquats that I picked from my tree last weekend. I had no idea what to do with them at first and I knew I had to use them all or else they would go bad since they are completely organic and once picked they tend to go pretty fast.

I thought about making marmalade but again it probably wouldn't keep for that long since I wouldn't be using any preservatives so I kept looking for some ideas and I stumbled upon this...

Ok then! I decided to try making a loquat pie and see just how amazing they really are! 

...Pretty amazing I have to admit. 

Begin by peeling and de-seeding the loquats cutting them into fourths. This takes some time but it's not as bad as it seems. 

I used about 4 cups of loquats. Add to a pot with about 2 cups of water and let cook on medium heat for 15 - 20 minutes. 

Next make a mixture of:

 1 cup of sugar, 
1/2 cup of all purpose flour, 
1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 
1/2 teaspoon of ginger, 
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, 
1 teaspoon of vanilla 
pinch of salt. 

Once the loquats are cooked through add the flour mixture and continue stirring until it thickens up nicely. 

After about a couple minutes the filling is ready. Set aside and let cool while you make the pie crust. My kitchen was smelling so good at this point and it was at that time I realized that this recipe was a keeper!

I used the pie recipe found here and used half of the ingredients because I only made the bottom portion of the pie crust and for the top I made a crumble crust by mixing 1 stick of room temperature butter, 1 cup of all purpose flour, 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Mix until crumbly and cover the pie. 

Bake in a preheated oven for 350° for 30 minutes. It you see the top start to brown too much cover with aluminum foil. 

I decorated with some powdered sugar and served with vanilla ice cream :-)

and with this I think I might have to agree with Kristen Stewart...loquats make the best pies!

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Italian Chicken Marsala

I know I promised to share my Chicken Marsala recipe and today I am happy to introduce you to this delicious dish that even the  pickiest of eaters will enjoy! Chicken breast can be the most boring ingredient to use when you eat it as much as we do but if you switch things up a bit without getting overly complicated you will find that it's not so boring anymore! 

Marsala is a sweet wine produced mainly in western Sicily.  This recipe most likely originated in the 19th century by English families who had lived in the town where Marsala wine is produced. What is the Sicilian town called? Yep...Marsala :-)

Ingredients for two

 - 4 chicken breasts
 - 500 grams of sliced champignon mushrooms
 - 1 shallot chopped  
 - 1 tablespoon of butter
 - 1 tablespoon of olive oil
 - 4 thinly cut slices of prosciutto or speck
 - 1/2 cup of Marsala wine
 - 1/2 cup of chicken stock
 - 1 cup of flour for coating chicken breast
 - 1 tablespoon of sifted all purpose flour for thickening
 - parsley for decorating
 - salt and pepper to taste

Begin by prepping the chicken breast and coating in the flour. I like to flavor the flour with salt and pepper and then pound the chicken in order to break down the fibers and tenderize. 

Next heat the butter and olive oil in a skillet and saute chicken in the pan until lightly browned. Make sure not to overcook the chicken because you will be heating again with the Marsala reduction sauce. 

Once browned, set aside and keep warm. In the same skillet add the shallot until transparent and then add the prosciutto cut up into small strips and the mushrooms. Heat on medium for about 10 minutes or until you see the mushrooms shrink in size and turn brown. 

Next go ahead and add the Marsala and let that evaporate slowly on low heat. Once the wine reduces, add the chicken stock and continue stirring making sure everything is cooking equally. 

If you find that the sauce is drying up just add a little more stock. Next add the sifted flour and stir so that it thickens up nicely. 

Now that the sauce is ready, add the chicken and heat everything together for about 5 minutes. Taste it at this point and see if it needs any extra salt or pepper and you're ready to serve!

Serve warm and add some freshly chopped parsley. 

Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend !!!



Monday, May 16, 2016

Low Carb Homemade Ice Cream

I've been struggling to limit my carb intake for the past month or so as I have been following (or at least trying to) the IIFYM (if it fits your macros) "diet". It's not actually a diet per se' but more a way of tracking your food making sure to include the percentage of macros assigned to your plan. For example I'm on a 25% carb 40% fat and 35% protein plan. I track everything on my Fitness Pal App and have been doing pretty well. I haven't been drastically losing weight but the numbers on the scale have slowly been coming down. I get a lot of inspiration from SkinnyMeg and her blog is actually how I got introduced to this plan. Her dramatic weight loss really inspires me to push through and keep going. Dieting and weight loss is definitely not easy for me and I think a lot of women can relate. 

So anyways this is a foodie blog not a weight loss blog and I just wanted to share with you how I continue to enjoy ice cream even when I'm watching what I eat. 

The struggle is real here people...Italian gelati are the bomb but they are also made with heavy cream...some use flour...lots of eggs...LOTS of sugar...and then lets not talk about the condiments...chocolate...hazelnuts...caramel...pistachios...etc. So needless to say the calories add up and so do the fat and carbs. 

While on this IIFYM plan I notice that I am having a hard time reaching my protein intake. Carbs and fat are easy peasy to reach (unfortunately!) but it's not as easy as I thought to reach protein. One way I get that extra protein is with Greek yogurt or cottage cheese.  So I thought I would try making ice cream using these ingredients. Now I know cottage cheese isn't the best tasting food in the world (I actually hate eating it plain) but I can assure you that when eaten like this you can't even taste it. Promise!

I tried three different ice cream recipes using three different methods. In the first method I made blueberry ice cream using a mature banana and low fat Greek blueberry yogurt. This was actually really good but you can taste the banana. So if banana isn't your favorite, you've been warned! I just mashed up the banana and mixed the yogurt together in a food processor.  Put it in the ice cream maker for about 20-30 minutes and it was finished. I didn't have to add any sweetener because the banana and blueberries were enough to sweeten it up.  For two people I used two medium sized bananas and 150grams of yogurt. 

The next recipe I tried and I'm sorry I don't have any other pictures to show you (they mysteriously disappeared from my phone. I have no idea how..) is using cottage cheese, and egg whites. Using this method I made peanut butter ice cream and this was A-MAZING! 

For two people I used 200 grams of cottage cheese, 20 grams of egg whites, 1 large tablespoon of peanut butter and stevia as a sweetener. You have to be careful when using stevia because a little goes a long way! So I ended up using just three teaspoons.  Again blend everything in a food processor and let the ice cream maker do the work! This was really good. It was the perfect consistency and tasted just like peanut butter ice cream. The only thing when using cottage cheese is that it turns rock hard when you put it in the freezer so you should eat it as soon as you make it....or you can just put it in the microwave for a few seconds if you do want to freeze it. 

After trying this I decided to try eliminating the egg white to see if it was really necessary and if it changed the consistency of the ice cream so I tried making one of my favorite flavors...Mint chocolate chip!

I used the same amount of cottage cheese as the previous recipe but I eliminated the egg white and flavored using a sugar free mint syrup. The consistency was a little less creamy but it turned out good all the same. Based on the flavors you are using you really just have to taste and see how much sweetener you should use. I ended up using less than three teaspoons of stevia here for example. 

The secret is to blend the ingredients well before actually making the ice cream. You need to break up the cottage cheese so that it's creamy and smooth like in the picture above. For the mint chocolate chip I added a couple tablespoons of mint syrup to the 200 grams of cottage cheese and that's it! 

I do think that the egg white adds to the recipe though so I will be adding it in the future. 

You really can make so many different types of ice cream using this method and even though it's not the real thing, it's pretty darn close!!

I wish you all a wonderful week ahead! 



Friday, May 6, 2016

❤ To One Strong and Beautiful Woman ❤

If I could give you diamonds for every tear you've cried;

If I could give you sapphires for each truth you've helped me see; 

If I could give you rubies for the heartache that you've known; 

If I could give you pearls for the wisdom you have shown;

Then you would have a treasure, Mother, that would mount up to the skies;

That would almost match the sparkle in your kind and loving eyes;

But I have no pearls, no diamonds, as I'm sure you're well aware; 

So I'll give you gifts more precious,

My devotion love and care. 

 - Author Unknown

I Love You to the Moon and Back 

Auguri mamma.

ps - This is my 100th post!! Yay!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Golden Afternoon

I debated on whether to write about the delicious Chicken Marsala I made this past weekend or posting about my garden.  I decided to share with you my outdoor space that unfortunately we haven't gotten around to using much yet because the temperature has dropped again.  

We had a few weeks of really warm - almost summer like - weather and now all of a sudden we're back to cold and rainy blah!  Saturday afternoon though was lovely so I was able to get a few shots of my blooming garden. 

This is my loquat tree and for the first time in the 5 years we've lived in our home it is full of fruits! They are still maturing but I can't wait to taste them. 

Above is another picture of my loquat Tree. 

Here you can see baby pomegranate's sprouting.  Can't wait to make some Pomegranate Martinis as soon as they mature!  It's a little early for that though... 

Above you can see some tart cherries starting to bud. Tart cherries are different than regular cherries in that they are smaller and more acidic. They are called "Amarene" in Italian and are great for making jam or used in baking pies. They are mainly native of Europe and Southwest Asia. They are still really tiny now so I will get a better picture once they mature. 

I also have two lemon trees but I'm having some problems with them... They used to grow so many more fruits but these past two years they haven't really been growing much. Not sure what the problem is.  I might have to call a gardener and see if they have some type of pest or disease. There is however a cement wall behind them so they might not be getting enough sun.  Not too sure what's going on there... 

Lastly I have a little kumquat tree. 

He's just a little guy but usually gives me lots of sweet citrusy goodness :-)  It's still early for him though. 

I also have a grapevine but didn't get any pictures. I'll make sure to get some pictures once it blooms.

Here is the rest of my outdoor space where we like to sit outside and take in the sunshine and just relax. 

My garden is behind the fence you see in the photo below. I know in the pictures above it seems like a big space to have all those trees but it really isn't that big. The trees are just close together. They were there when we moved in and I can't really say that I like them that way. I probably would have done things a bit differently.  I would have loved to add a rose garden. 

Here is a better view of the patio.

I got those front door planters for real cheap and I just love them. I added two hydrangea plants to add some color. I just hope they don't die on me...

Hope you enjoyed the tour of my garden and I'll be back soon with the Chicken Marsala recipe! 

PS - someone else wants to say hello

Hope you're having a great week :-)