Hello There…

It has been several years since I have been part of the blogging world. The last time I wrote anything was in 2013, I believe. I used to really enjoy it, and actually had a lot of followers, much to my surprise.

But, life got in the way as it often does, and I got burned out, as people often do, so I deleted it.

I have had quite a few people ask me to start another blog recently and I have been thinking about it a lot, so here I am, ready to try again.  Not quite sure where to begin or where, exactly, I want to go with it.  I’m just going to start, and see what happens.

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The Great Chili Debate

To bean or not to bean…

This time of year makes me want comfort foods, and Chili is one of my favorites.  How do you like your chili?  Personally, I am a simple Texas girl, so I prefer simple Texas Chili, and by simple, I mean lots of meat, lots of bold flavor, maybe with a little shredded cheese on top and a side of cornbread, but nothing else…. especially not BEANS!

Just Say NO!

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Beans do not belong in Chili, in fact, I think they take away from the flavor, rather than add to it. I have friends and family on both sides of this debate, but, the ones who like beans in their Chili are absolutely wrong!

Just kidding…. sort of.  

So…how do you like your chili?  Do you have a favorite recipe?  If so, please share it with me (even if it includes beans) I’d like to try it… prove me wrong!

On that note…..

Here is my tried and true Chili recipe. Let me know if you try it! 

Cas’ Texas Chili

2 lbs ground beef or chili meat

1 medium onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

12 oz can of beer of choice

1 can tomato sauce

4 cups water

2 tbs chili powder

1 tbs cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne

1/4 tsp cocoa powder

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp onion powder

2 tsp dried oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

Brown beef in large pot until only slightly pink. Add onions and garlic and sauté until vegetables are translucent and beef is cooked through (about 10 minutes)  Drain off fat, if you prefer.

Add in remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes (or longer if time) to let the flavors develop. I usually cook mine for 1 to 2 hours on low.  Stir and taste occasionally, and add in more seasonings to taste.  The longer the chili cooks, the thicker it will get and the better it will taste. If you don’t have hours to cook and want to speed up the thickening process,  just add a tbsp. of corn starch to 1/4 cup of water and stir well, then pour into chili and cook until thickened. 

NOTE: For a Keto or low carb version, do everything the same, except use a light beer, and to thicken mix 1 tbs of Xanthan Gum to 1/4 cup of water instead of cornstarch.

Consistency Is Not My Super Power

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I wish I were one of those people who could just decide to do something and then follow through, consistently. If I were, I would probably be one of those Instagram millionaires, traveling the globe, wearing amazing clothes, eating amazing food, taking amazing photos, by now. That’s what I like to tell myself, anyway, inconsistency is my excuse. Maybe I’m just not that ambitious, or maybe I’m just lazy. I don’t know. I do know that I have dreams and goals, some of which I have accomplished and others I have just let go of. Maybe the ones I let go of weren’t really meant for me. Maybe I just haven’t yet found that one thing that incites the kind of passion it takes to stay consistent. Maybe consistency is the key to creating passion… *shrugs*

I have been feeling a strong desire to create something lately. I feel like I am at my best when I am being creative in any way. I love when I get inspiration of nowhere, my problem is often in implementing those ideas.. or in finishing what I have started. I probably have 50 different projects around my house that I have started and then just got bored or got distracted and forgot about them. Yeah, its a problem.

But, I want to change that. I want to be better at staying consistent and finishing what I start, especially before starting something new.

I have been thinking a lot about what it is that I truly enjoy and what it is that I am truly good at. Cooking. I love to cook, especially for others. I love seeing them enjoy the food I prepare. It makes my heart happy. I love sharing my recipes with others too, and then hearing what they thought about it, if they try it.. I love just getting in the kitchen and trying new recipes and creating new recipes. Sometimes they turn out amazing and other times, not so much…but, I enjoy the process just as much as I enjoy the end result. I love food, but, I don’t really consider myself a foodie. I eat when I am hungry, stop when I am full, and I really don’t go out of my way to find or get a favorite food. The first bite of anything is usually the best anyway, in my humble opinion.. Don’t get me wrong, I do have my favorite foods and if they are in front of me I can get downright giddy. But, in all honesty, I think I prefer cooking great food, more than I enjoy eating great food. I know, I’m a weirdo.

I also enjoy writing. I don’t know that I am particularly good at writing, but, I do enjoy it. There is something very therapeutic about typing my thoughts out and just seeing where they take me. Sometimes, I surprise myself. I usually just write the way I talk, as if I am having a conversation with a friend. Nothing technical or profound, just me, rambling on…

I also enjoy positive feedback…I actually thrive on it. I think we all do.

Another thing I really enjoy, is photography. It’s something I want to get better at. My husband bought me a great camera for Christmas a few years ago, and I have yet to put it to really good use. I can’t even tell you how many times I have been out driving and wished for my camera! That is about to change!

I have come to realize that I need to do more of the things I really enjoy and I really need to work on being more consistent in those things. I feel like I am still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. But, I don’t think there is anything wrong with continuing to learn and question and grow. Maybe it’s because I turned 50 this year (almost 51, now) that I have become more introspective, all I know is that I need to stop putting myself on the backburner… (pun intended)

I keep returning to this blog… Probably because it encompasses all the creative things that I really enjoy. Maybe, it’s within these things that I will find my Super Power. I want to explore that more.

This is going to sound weird, but…

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I use my timer for everything!

Well, not everything that would be weird! I can just see my husband and I getting frisky in bed, and I suddenly tell him to wait while I set my timer…

“Okay, we have exactly 15 minutes…ready, set, go!”

Yeah, that would probably kill the mood very quickly!

Seriously though, I use my timer for all the things that I need to get done during the day. Such as cleaning, working out, writing, and any other tasks I need or want to tackle. Why? Because I am a perfectionist, who also happens to be a little ADD, as well as a procrastinator. It’s not the best combination. But, it’s me.

Being a perfectionist, means if I do begin something, such as deciding to clean out ONE drawer in my kitchen. That one drawer can easily turn into a major whole kitchen clean out and rearrangement, with all the drawers and cabinets emptied all at once. Before, I know it, I find a photo of one of my kids, that somehow ended up in the middle of the mess, which then leads me to get on Facebook to check on them. Then I end up scrolling through facebook for 2 hours looking at videos of dogs. You get my point. I get absolutely nothing else done for the rest of the day and end up scrambling just to get a load of laundry done and dinner started, if I can even find a pan and a spatula.

As a procrastinator, I often feel like it’s never the right time to begin something. I know that in most cases I won’t be able to finish it that day, so I dont want to even start, because I don’t want to take a chance on having to quit in the middle. I put it off and put it off and put it off, then it never gets done and every time I open a kitchen drawer, it mocks me.

So, I have learned to use a timer to help keep me focused and help keep me from feeling overwhelmed. I learned how to do this about 20 years ago. I have not perfected it, because I still procrastinate and still get distracted, but, for the most part, it keeps me on track. You should have seen me 20 years ago! I was a hot mess.

This probably sounds silly to those of you who are super focused, organized, and efficient. Like, my mom, but, unfortunately, I did not inherit the born organized gene. I need help to keep my life together!

Here’s how it works…its simple. I usually just set my timer for 10 to 15 minutes per task, depending on how much time I have and what else I need to get done. In the case of the kitchen drawer, for example, I would choose a drawer to start with, set my timer for 15 minutes, then work diligently and as quickly as possible, trying to beat the timer. I throw away junk and organize one drawer at a time, moving quickly to the next drawer, until the timer goes off. Then I stop! I now have at least one, but, usually several drawers cleaned out by the time it dings. Thats more drawers than I had done 15 minutes earlier, and now I am free to go on to other things! Even another drawer if I want to. Progress, not perfection!

It’s amazing what can be accomplished in 15 minutes! A task that might seem like it’s going to take forever can actually get completed in that amount of time, or less, in most cases. Setting a timer gives the perfectionist in me permission to stop and move on to other things. Otherwise, I would never get anything else done, because of the procrastinator with ADD, in me.

My timer has become a very valuable life tool. It helps me get things done! If you can relate give it a try! Let me know if it helps you.

Oops! My time is up for today 😉 Thank you for stopping by… See you soon!

~Cas

Grilled Salmon Steak

In Texas, we cook outdoors pretty much year round! It’s never too cold or wet to grill something yummy.  I love grilled salmon and its so good for you! Perfect for a Keto diet, since its full of healthy fats!

This is what I am cooking tonight!

Orange-Ginger Grilled Salmon Steaks 3

This is what you need:

1 lb wild caught salmon steaks or filets, skin on

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp fresh rosemary finely chopped

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 tsp fresh parsely, finely chopped

1 tsp lime juice

Here’s what to do:

  • Wash the salmon under cold running water and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Set aside
  • In a large bowl, combine garlic, rosemary, olive oil, salt, pepper, parsley, and lime juice. Mix until well incorporated and soak the steaks in this marinade.  Using a spoon, coat well and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the grill to a medium-high heat. Drain the salmon and place on grill, skin side down, if using filets
  • Grill for 3-4 minutes on each side
  • Remove from the grill and serve immediately

 

If you prefer,  you can pan sear these on the cook top.  Heat a skillet over med heat, place salmon in hot pan, skin side down if using filets. Turn over once skin is browned, approx 3 to 4 minutes, then another 3 to 4 minutes on the other side.

I will be serving this with a nice big green salad, with vinegar and oil dressing!

Nutrition Info Per Serving

Cal: 304   Protien: 32g   Net Carbs: 1.7g   Fat: 18g

Enjoy! See you soon!

~Cas

Keto Kielbasa and Cabbage

I am making this for dinner tonight!  Quick and easy for a midweek, one dish meal, and hopefully left-overs for lunch tomorrow!

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Cooking time: 25 minutes   Serves 8

 

Here’s what you need:

  • pounds Polska Kiełbasa sliced in approx 1 inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion cut in half, then sliced
  • 1 head cabbage coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced (or 2 tsp jarred minced garlic)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • sea salt to taste
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 tablespoon paprika

 

Here’s what you do:

  • In a large skillet, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the Kielbasa, sliced on the bias into bite sized pieces, and sauté until slightly browned (about 5 minutes). Remove from the skillet and set aside.
  • Add the onion and garlic to the skillet. Sauté until softened – about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  • Place the sliced cabbage in the skillet with the red wine vinegar and sauté until cabbage is cooked down to desired tenderness. Cook about 10 minutes.
  • Return the onion and garlic mixture and the Kielbasa to the skillet, add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and paprika. Heat through.
  • Add additional butter, as needed, during the cooking process. Drizzle melted butter on the Kielbasa meat when plated and sprinkle with more paprika to serve.

 

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Nutrition Info (approximate)

Calories 360   Fat 30.7g   Protein 12.4g

Net Carbohydrates 9.2g

 

Yum! Enjoy!

See you soon!

~Cas

 

I Love Bacon

Mmmmm….bacon. I mean, what’s not to love?? Give me bacon and I’m a happy girl!! Well, not just bacon, but, it’s a start!

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My husband brings home the bacon and I fry it up in a pan……

Not really, I hate cooking bacon. I love eating it, but, it makes such a huge mess! I actually bake it, seriously, it’s the best way to get the most flavor and it doesn’t splatter on everything, including me.

Breakfast on the Keto diet isn’t all that difficult, since eggs and breakfast meats are definitely allowed, and actually kind of a staple.  However, it gets really boring.  Also, who has time or even wants to cook bacon and eggs everyday? Not this girl. I mean, I do love to cook and I also love my husband and want to make sure he has a good breakfast before heading off to work, (so he isn’t tempted by the donuts or McDonalds drive-thru) but, I am just not one of those women who jumps out of bed to cook a big breakfast. I don’t even know any women like that, but, I am assuming they exist somewhere…and good for them! 🙂

So, we came up with an idea that makes mornings easy! On Sundays, I cook up a half pound of bacon (in the oven, but, more on that in a minute) dice up some ham, and shred a few different kinds of cheeses, enough for the week! Then put everything in individual ziploc baggies in the refrigerator.

All we have to do during the week is crack an egg or two into a bowl, mix in a little heavy cream, salt, pepper, and whatever meats and cheeses, and seasonings we want. Then pop it into the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes and viola! 1 minute egg scramble! You can get really creative with them too, top them of with some sliced green onions, or some cilantro and hot sauce. Very easy, nutritious, and delicious!

How to make oven baked, almost no mess, crispy bacon:

Set oven to 375. Line a shallow baking sheet with foil, lay out desired amount of bacon slices across the pan. You can butt them up next to each other to fit in more. Then place in oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how crispy you like it! Remove from pan to a paper towel lined plate to absorb grease and finish crisping. If using for 1 minute egg scramble for the week, once the bacon has cooled, just crumble it and store in a zipper bag in the refrigerator.

Easy peasy!

You can also cook up some crumbled breakfast sausage for the week. (I would recommend doing that on the stove top though) 😆 Let it cool on a paper towel lined plate as well, then store it the same way as the bacon and other ingredients.

Need more ideas?

Shredded pepper jack cheese

Shredded smoked gouda

Shredded swiss

Diced ham

Diced smoked sausage

Left over diced steak or chicken

Diced turkey

Smoked salmon

Diced tomatoes

Asparagus

Dill

Pepperoni, salami, or my favorite proscuitto

I mean…the list goes on and on… you can get really creative and never be tempted by the office donuts or McDonalds drive-thru again! 😉DontSKipGourmetFuel

Thank you for stopping by!

See you soon!

~Cas

Keto Dijon Chicken Thighs

Hello and Happy Tuesday!!  If you’re visiting for the first time, Welcome and thank you for stopping by!!  Have a look around and if you like what you see, please subscribe and share!

 

Here is what I am cooking tonight!  It’s super easy, yummy, and perfect for anyone, whether you are low carbing or not!  Chicken thighs with the skin on and bone in are so flavorful and definitely my favorite. The secret is to get a good sear on the skin.  I will be serving this with steamed asparagus, seasoned simply with salt and pepper, and a tiny drizzle of olive oil.

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Photo credit: Georgina

 

Keto Dijon Chicken Thighs

Prep time: 30 minutes   Serves 4

Here’s what you need:

1 tbs olive oil

4 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 tsp garlic paste or minced garlic

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 tbs dijon mustard

salt and pepper to taste

 

Here’s what to do:

  • Heat oil in a cast iron or heavy skillet
  • Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and place skin-side down in hot skillet
  • Cook until the skin is browned, then turn over
  • Continue cooking over medium heat until thighs reach an internal temp of 165F. Set aside and keep warm
  • Remove any excess fat from the skillet, then add the onions, garlic, and thyme
  • Once onions have softened, add the chicken stock and let simmer for about 5 minutes
  • Add the cream and mustard, adjusting seasonings if needed
  • Serve the chicken with sauce poured over each thigh

Yum!

Nutrition Info 

Calories: 528   Sodium: 291mg   Fat: 42g

Net carbohydrates: 4g   Protien: 33g

Enjoy! See you soon!

~Cas