Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Eggplant Parmesan Soup










Recipe posting soon!

DIY Chalkboard Art

I recently painted several mirrors for a boutique that just opened up in the Birmingham area. One of the mirrors the owner had tried to makeover herself using spray paint, but some had gotten on the glass of the mirror. I tried several methods to remove it, but nothing worked. She said I could just throw that one away. 

Those of you who know me know that's not an option. 

I had been looking for a big piece of art to go on the wall of our bedroom. The mirror was just the right size. 


I took it outside and sprayed all the glass with chalkboard paint. I didn't worry about protecting the frame because it was already paint splattered, and I knew I would have to cover it with something anyway. 

To redo the frame, I modpodged pieces of white tissue paper all over it. It gave it the look of a chalkboard that needed to be cleaned, which I thought was perfect for a chalkboard!

I decided to write a phrase on the chalkboard that really fits our lives right now. We are always busy, always stressed, and we don't know what the future is going to hold for us. Rather than focusing on all of that, we need to...


Because we most certainly are blessed. 

It is so nice to fall asleep and wake up with this reminder that God has blessed us greatly. 







Recycled DIY Towel Hook


When I bought the door to make my headboard, it had this funky hook on the back. It couldn't stay on the headboard, so I whitewashed a piece of my reclainmed deck wood and attached it to the front. I attached a clip on the back to hang it on the wall, and now it hangs in my bathroom as a towel holder. I love it when a project comes together so easily, and for free, I might add!!


DIY Headboard from an old Door

My husband and I have been redoing our master bedroom. It's been needing an update... 


It was painted a dark teal/green color that wasn't so horrible, but it was an old paint job that needed some touch ups. Also, it was flat paint. I just don't like the look of flat paint. It shows dirt and fingerprints really badly. 

Last summer, I repainted all of our bedroom furniture a light cream color that brought a lot of brightness into the room in spite of the dark paint on the walls. After scouring Pinterest, I decided on ain't got the walls a really pretty gray color to make the room feel bigger. 



When I was painting it, I added some of this stuff to my paint. It made the room smell so fresh! I will never paint without it!


Once the paint was on the walls, the room took on a whole new look! It was still missing some final touches, and still is, but the main thing I wanted to do was to make a headboard for our bed frame. 

I have seen people make their own upholstered headboards, and I loved the look of that. I also saw some made from shutters, doors, stretched fabric, pallet wood... I had no idea what I wanted. I asked for suggestions from friends, and one friend told me about a wonderful store in Cullman, AL about an hour from my house. It's called Southern Accents Architectural Antiques. The owner and his team go to buildings that are going to be demolished and salvage anything and everything they can. We made a plan to go check it out. 


The store was absolutely amazing! Mantles, mirrors, windows, doors, all kinds of old hardware... It was like antique heaven. They had the main building, then a secondary building in the back, two outdoor garden areas, and an entire separate warehouse where they store things that haven't made it to the actual store yet. We browsed for hours. 



At the warehouse, I found a gorgeous, solid wood door. It was the exact right length to be a queen-sized headboard. The man at the store told me that the door was from a building built in 1920 in Tuscaloosa close to The University of Alabama's football stadium. The building was damaged four years ago when a streak of over 200 tornados ravaged our state. The building could not be saved, but they were able to salvage some of the parts. 


Hearing the history behind the door absolutely sold me on it. Knowing that it was from my state gave it great significance to me. We loaded it up and drove it home. 

I knew I wanted to paint it to match my other furniture. I gave it thre coats of my cream colored paint. 

I sanded the edges and some other areas to give it that distressed, worn look of my other pieces. 



The last thing to do was to add the boards to the sides to raise it from the ground. I bought pine 1x4s from Lowe's and my husband attached them to the door after I measured where they needed  to go. 


Finally, our bedroom is starting to come together. 










Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Oven Fried Tilapia Cakes with a Secret Ingredient

 

I had such a wonderful birthday weekend! My family and I traveled to my home town for the weekend.  It was more of a work trip for my husband since he had some students participating in an honor band at the local university.  It was so fun for me to watch him work at the same college where we attended as students.  He even got to guest lecture a music class taught by the man who taught him while he was student teaching!

On Friday, the University's own Pride of Dixie Marching Band gave their President's Concert:   Some of our old friends and some of my husband's former students participated in the concert, and they all did an amazing job! If you are close to a university, I highly recommend attending band concerts and theater productions.  Often, they are professional quality for way less than you'd pay at a symphony or on Broadway. It makes a pretty good date night if I do say so myself!




After the concert, we went to a late dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, City Hardware.  I love the atmosphere of that place! It overlooks the main downtown street and is filled with old fixtures and reclaimed wood.  They had live entertainment, who happened to be another former student.  I'm telling you, if you don't know the name Rachel Wammack now, you will soon. (Visit her website here.) This girl is an amazing singer/songwriter.  You should definitely check out her album "Lavender" on iTunes (Track number one is my favorite!!).



As we sat down to order, I was so excited.  I had decided to give up my low carb diet for the weekend and fully enjoy all my favorite hometown foods, including City Hardware's crab cakes! I placed my order and anxiously awaited the arrival of my dish. 

When it came to the table, I cut into it with my fork and took a bite.

It was good.

But...

"Mine are better," I told my husband. 

He took a bite.

"Yep. Much," he replied.

It's official, y'all.  I've spoiled myself. I ate nearly every bite, but it just wasn't the same.  I still highly recommend the restaurant, though.  So much great food! When we got back home Sunday, I took some tipalia out of the freezer to thaw for Monday night's dinner.  After the crab cakes from a few nights earlier, I was really craving these fish cakes. 

When I've made them before, I've fried them, but that takes a lot of time that I'd rather not spend standing over a hot stove, especially when it's hot outside.  I decided to oven fry them this time instead.  I also threw a secret ingredient into the mix.  I am always trying to get my family to eat more vegetables.  What better way to get them to eat them than by hiding them inside a favorite meal? Believe it or not, there is an entire zucchini inside these bad boys! Even my zucchini-hatin' hubby couldn't tell.  Wife Win!


Ingredients
4 tilapia fillets
1 zucchini
 2 eggs
quart-sized bag of pork rinds, crushed
additional crushed pork rinds for coating
1/2 c shredded parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil spray (or cooking spray)

Directions
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Sprinkle tilapia with salt and pepper. Broil the tilapia for four minutes on each side. While the fish is cooking, shred the zucchini.  I just use a cheese grater, and it works perfectly.  I grate it directly onto a dish towel.  Once the zucchini is grated, I pick up the whole dish towel and squeeze out as much juice from the zucchini as I can.  It needs to be really dry in order for the cakes to hold their shape.  

Combine the shredded zucchini, crushed pork rinds, and parmesan cheese.  Gently fold in the tilapia fillets and add the eggs, stirring well to coat the mixture with the egg.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place the fish mixture into the fridge to cool.  I usually leave it 5-10 minutes.  Form the mixture into 2 inch balls and roll them in the crushed pork rinds.  Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and flatten them slightly.  Spray the tops with the olive oil.  Bake at 375 for ten minutes, flip the cakes over, spray the other sides, and continue baking for ten more minutes.
 

One thing I will say for City Hardware is that they make a killer remoulade sauce.  I looked up a few recipes to try to make my own, but I didn't have the required ingredients.  I made up my own spicy sauce instead. I mixed up some mayonnaise, ketchup, a little mustard, a bunch of hot sauce, and some lemon juice.  I stirred in some Tony's creole seasoning, garlic powder, and onion powder.  I basically just mixed and added until it tasted the way I wanted.  Apparently, it was pretty good, because my husband has requested that this sauce be a staple in our fridge for burgers and pretty much anything else.


I so enjoy taking my favorite dishes and making them healthy.  It makes me feel like I am really taking care of my family!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Zucchini Alfredo Bake


So tomorrow is my birthday! I am going out of town with my husband for the honor band concert, so I'll be straying at my mom's house since she lives up there. I have made some birthday dinner requests, and none of them are low carb... But that's what birthdays are for! 

Since we will be out of town for a few days, I know that my perishables will probably not last that long. I tried to use up as many as I could in dinner tonight, and I really surprised myself- not only with how many veggies I could fit into a casserole dish, which was impressive in its own right, but also how delicious it could be.  

I know I've said it before, but I will continue to say it: A low carb diet is really the diet for me. I mean, on what other diet can I savor the creamy, garlicy, cheesey flavors of alfredo sauce? 

Ingredients
2 zucchini (zucchinis?), sliced or cubed
Several mushrooms, sliced
About a quarter of a big bag of spinach (I told you this recipe consisted of leftovers haha)
4 oz cream cheese (optional- I added it because it was already open and would have gone bad by Sunday)
1/2 jar low fat alfredo sauce
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Directions
Preheat oven to 400.  In a skillet, sautée the mushrooms and spinach in olive oil with seasonings. Add cream cheese and alfredo sauce. Stir until melted and hot.  In a casserole dish, layer zucchini and alfredo mixture, ending with the alfredo. Bake for 20 minutes. To add some color, I topped it with a bit of shredded cheese and broiled it until it turned golden. 

I'm glad I was able to save some of my fresh veggies instead of them going to waste. It also makes me feel good to eat such a veggie-loaded dinner tonight, because I fully intend to enjoy my not-low-carb birthday dinner!!


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Crispy, Zero Carb Egg White Chips





Since I started eating low carb, my friends and family have been sharing recipes and ideas with me to try and create.  This one is from my sister-in-law Jessica.  She found it on Pinterest and sent it to me.  It calls for four egg whites, and I didn't really want to waste four perfectly good egg yolks, so I put it on the back-burner for a while.

On Sunday, my husband got a hankering for a batch of his mom's old chocolate pudding recipe.  He and sweet P set about cooking it and mixing it.  Chocolate pudding was made along side of some pretty sweet memories.


Be still, my heart!






And yes, she is wearing a superhero cape.  All the best chefs do.

The good thing about this recipe is that it calls for four egg yolks.  I had my husband save the whites for me so I could try the cracker recipe. 

I made a few changes to the original directions.  I doubled the amount of the egg white mixture for each cracker and lengthened the bake time. I was pleasantly surprised by how crispy these bites were.  They were great for dipping! The recipe made a ton, so I saved the extra in the refrigerator.  Reheating them was an experiment.  I heated the oven to 350 and baked them for 10 minutes.  They got pretty dark, but they had a great crunch, even more than the day before. My husband thought they were great, and my sweet P kept asking, "More chips, Mama?" What a great way to sneak some extra protein into her diet, and mine, too.




Ingredients (makes appx. 36 chips)
4 egg whites
1 tbsp water (to thin the egg whites)
salt
a small pinch of shredded cheese (for each cracker)

Directions
Preheat oven to 400.  Spray a standard-sized muffin tin with nonstick spray.  Add an equal amount of egg white to each muffin....

compartment? hole?  I never thought about it, but what do you call the spots where you put the muffin/cupcake batter in a muffin tin? Whatever it is, put an equal amount of the eggs in each one.

I used a trick from the original recipe to measure an equal amount for each cracker: a children's medicine dropper.  I measured out 5 mL of the egg for each cracker. It completely coated the bottom.  I topped them off with just a tiny sprinkle of cheese.  I tried some in the first batch without, and they just didn't do as well, further proving my theory that cheese makes everything better. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. 

For my dip, I mixed some mayo with my favorite Kernal Season's Ranch seasoning.

These little snacks are high protein and virtually ZERO carbs.  Can't beat that!