When you make cheese.....

Three of my cousins came up for a visit following the funeral for their mom/gran. Of course, being in my house meant we spent a good part of the weekend playing with food. We made CHEESE!!!! We were such geeks, feeling up the curd, getting so excited about the process.... I got the directions off of thepioneerwoman.com  and although somewhat time consuming, the end product could not be beat. I did find that it required a full tablet of rennet, and more like 10 minutes for the curd to form. To eat it I then sprinkled the top with fresh, chopped basil and parsley, sea salt, pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Served it with fresh tomatoes from the garden, and multi-grain crackers. It did not last long! When we were done making the cheese, I was left with a gallon of whey, from a gallon of non-pasteurized whole milk. Whey is very high in protein, and can be substituted for  water in most recipes. The first thing I did with mine was to make oatmeal for Saturday's breakfast. It was super creamy and filling. Then I made bread- in no way was this low carb, but ended up with 4 loaves of cinnamon raisin bread, and a pan of rolls. I am planning to make the cheese on a fairly regular basis, so will from time to time share more ideas.

Punkin' brownies (low carb, natch!)

Nothing is better, really, than pumpkin, dark chocolate, and pecans..... well, almost nothing! The hubster reports that this is super moist, with lots of layers of flavor. Pretty high praise from my engineer honey.

3/4 stick of butter, melted
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
4 eggs
2 cups splenda
1 cup Carbquick
2tsp vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate morsels, divided
3/4 cup pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 350, and grease a 9x9 pan, set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine butter, pumpkin, and eggs, beat lightly. Add splenda, carbquick, and beat again. Stir in the vanilla, then 3/4 cup of chocolate, and the pecans. Pour into pan, and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top springs back when touched. Remove from oven and scatter remaining chocolate over the top. Once they have softened, use a butter knife to gently spread over the top of the brownies. Allow to cool, then slice and enjoy.

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Crust Pumpkin Pie

Oh yeah... it is fall, and that means pumpkin goodness! And pecans... and cinnamon.... yummmmm....
So anyway, I wanted to play with some ideas to get a guilt free pumpkin pie, and the hubster tells me I have nailed it with this.

2 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 scoop unflavored protein powder
1/2 cup splenda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
pinch of salt
1 can fat free evaporated milk
1 can pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 425, and spray a 1.5 qt casserole dish with Pam. Combine above ingredients, and pour into dish, place on center rack of oven and bake for 15 minutes. While this is baking, in food processor bowl combine 3/4 cup Carbquick, 3/4 cup splenda, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, 3/4 stick cold butter. Process until bread crumb consistency, then stir in 1 cup chopped pecans. Spread over pie mixture, reduce temp to 350, and bake for 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Now if you have no need to make this bari-friendly, you can leave out the protein powder, replace the splenda with sugar, the carbquick with bisquick, and use full fat milk. However, I challenge you to serve this to non-ops without telling them it's healthy, and I doubt they would ever guess!


Preparing for my MasterChef audition

I have decided to try one more time for MasterChef, and will be auditioning November 2nd in Philly. I have learned that Graham, one of the judges, had a sleeve earlier this year, so I hope this time he is the one at my audition. At past auditions, my cooking was tasted by Joe Bastianich, and Gordon Ramsey- and they both loved my dishes. Hopefully I will be able to wow them with my personality, such as it is, and they will give me a shot. This is a complicated process, so I have not been posting as much as I wish. This is my headshot, and I still need to complete the 15 page application. I am having a tasting on October 19th to help me determine what dish I am making. Neither recipe is in the least bit low carb/bari friendly. However, one of the things that makes my sleeve such a fabulous tool is that I can enjoy little bits of such dishes, and that is enough. I used to be able to sit down to huge dishes of either one, and go back for seconds- which is why I ended up weighing over 300 pounds. Now a few bites, and I am done. I love my sleeve! It is the tool that has given me back my life! Anyway, let me know if you would like to see my recipes for Shrimp and Grits and/or Mango Madness (coconut poached salmon dish) posted here. Also, if you are in the Maryland area next weekend and want to come to the tasting, contact me for the address. Otherwise, wish me luck as I attempt to conquer MasterChef!