Low Carb Buffalo Wings – Pressure Cooker

It is Superbowl Weekend.

No mention here of Deflate Gate.  We are a solid Pat’s household!

While I would prefer to sit and watch football with my iPad on my lap scrap booking Project Life pages – this game I do like to watch.  If only for the commercials!

Superbowl = Chicken Wings.

I want to share our new favorite easy way to make wings.

Coco is a wing connoisseur.  She loves them and she gave me the thumbs up for this way of cooking – that says a LOT!

Typically in the summer I will grill them.  Sometimes even in the winter I will stand over the grill on a cold day.  This is our new preferred way.

I follow this process from Hip Pressure Cooking (great website!!) using my trusty electric pressure cooker.

Buffalo Style Pressure Cooked Chicken Wings

Hip Pressure Cooking

 The Instapot seems to be all the rage right now.  Mine is about 5 years old from QVC.  I had a stovetop one for about 10 years.  Then when I switched to a ceramic stove top it stopped working for me.  I love the electric one.

Hip Pressure Cooking does a great job detailing how to make the wings. The pressure cooker in 10 mins gets the meat almost falling off the bone.  A quick toss in the sauce then under the broiler they go.

I use my trusty buffalo sauce – it just gets the job done.

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I have learned to flip them over after 5 mins.  They key is to get both sides of the wings crispy.

Crispy is good! 

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They go quick!!

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I love that I control the ingredients & quality of the chicken.

New Recipes – Halve It

When I talk about all my new cookbooks, websites and pinned recipes that I try sometimes the results are varied.

Some are great, some are okay and some are not for me.  Some I love or like, but the family refused.  Or the Mr. and I loved, but the kids balked.

The problem is this way of eating can get expensive.  While I am not spending a lot on processed foods these days a lot of the ingredients called for can add up quickly.

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(image source: Google images)

Need a 1/2 tsp of xanthum gum – the bag costs $10-$14.  Coconut aminos which is used as a soy sauce replacement is about $6.50 for a small bottle.  Almond Flour & Coconut Flour – trust me – expensive.  And when you are striving to use the healthiest cuts of protein (grass-fed beefs, organic chicken, antibiotic free pork) that is a checkbook killer.  Organic veggies…. you know how that goes.

When I try a recipe for the first time I try my hardest to remind myself – HALVE THE RECIPE!

This is quickly becoming my new favorite book!

Recently, I tried Danielle Walker from Against All Grain’s Minestrone Soup from her new book Meals Made Simple.  I was not paying attention.  I ended up with my large crockpot FULL to the top with a new soup.  I worried that it will be wasted or worse I will be eating all myself.

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Lucky for me it was a total winner!!

I was able to enjoy the frozen jars of soup from my freezer over the whole month of December.

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Freezing soups in jars for single serving size quick meals. Click to read more.

One recipe I had REALLY high hopes for was All Day I Dream About Food’s Cinnamon Buns.  Anytime I can find a replacement for traditional foods that I used to enjoy I am game.

While they looked good…

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I think the girls are onto me!

2-IMG_9415 These were just a miss.

I am also lucky enough that friends who enjoy this way of cooking are willing to share new recipes they try, photos, and best of all if their families gave it the thumbs up or down.

There is no replacing a ‘kid’s review’!

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Another Year and the Great Escape

This post accidentally posted earlier this month.  I am re posting on its original schedule date.  

Tomorrow is my birthday.

While the day used to be focused on which bakery in town would be supplying my sugar laden birthday cake and what they picked out for me these days I am just happy to be surrounded by those I love.

Right before Christmas I was woken to chirping fire detectors at 5:00 am.  Nora was panicking.  She’s very sensitive to the sound.  Before she became our forever dog she survived a fire in the family home where she lived.  The fire detectors really bother her.

And I know that.

She has a doggie door and after the third round of them ringing she bolted.  Through her door.  But she was not in a good frame of mind and apparently it took me until about 7:30 am to realize she had not come back in.  In her panic she got out of the yard.

I live in a pretty even keel place these days.  My anxiety runs low and I am pretty calm about most things.  She’s gotten out before but she always comes back quickly.  This was too long.  And she missed breakfast.

It was a tough day.  My dad had been readmitted to the hospital and I was due to pick my sister up at the airport.  The girls needed rides.  And I would not be home for hours.

Stress level was high.

I broke.

I went to that dark place of what could have happened to her.   I found myself driving around our neighborhood stopping to ask anyone out there if they had seen her.  It was clear I was upset.

I tried to get on with my day knowing the Mr. would be home.

Then about 11 am I got this photo on my phone

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Relief.

Animal Control knew she was missing and called the Mr. when she was found.

Look at that guilt ridden face.  The Mr. tells me that animal control let her sit in the front seat because she was so sweet.

Later that night she never left my side.

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excuse the white socks… please

I felt an enormous sense of loss that morning.  It was painful.  And to have her back taught me a lesson.

Life is not about where your cake comes from or what gifts you got for Christmas.  It’s about having my family around me.

And the realization that time is marching on and they may not all always be here.   That my girls are still young enough that they are home with me and not at college yet or starting their own family traditions. That my parents are now well into their 80s.

My dad missed Christmas but is home from the hospital and my sister is back where she lives.  I wake up to that black face so happy to see me every morning.  She is my family.

That is what I celebrate this year for my 47th.

Ugh… did I just type that?

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Low Carb Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip

 I host Christmas most of the time.  We manage to fit all these people into The Little Red House, it’s once a year.

We start around Noon and have dinner around 4.  Apps are the key to this routine.

My ‘newly engaged!!’ niece brings some things for everyone to enjoy and I do the hot one.

I chose my new favorite – Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip.

I tripped on this in a restaurant over the summer.  I devoured it.  However, I suspect there was flour in it.  WHY do restaurants do that?!  I digress.

This is a huge crowd pleaser and is great for Football Sundays or parties.

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It is simple enough to make ahead.

I spread a block of cream cheese in a pie dish.

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Take some of my pre-shredded chicken out of the freezer and defrost.  Toss it with about a cup of wing sauce.

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While a true ‘primal’ eater would make their own sauce from scratch.  I have relaxed my standards a bit.  I prefer this one.  Mainly because they make it in a Mild version.  I am still have my Irish palate but I am getting better about the heat.
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Layer with a 1/2 cup of cheddar.  I always use aged raw cheddar ;)  It digests better for me.

Drizzle with some Bleu Cheese dressing.  (Yes, Marie’s is my second downfall for processed foods…)

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I serve with celery chunks.  They are my crackers.

It did not last.

I offered to heat it up half way through but the crowd told me not to take it away ;)

For sure this will be on our table this weekend when the Patriots try to take the AFC Championship – again!

New England Road Trip – Wahlburgers

I used to post about places we traveled around to in New England with the kids. Like beaches, little towns, corners of our beautiful area on Cape Ann.  Here are a few of my favs:  MOFA Boston, Plimoth Plantation, Beacon Hill and Salem.

Recently, we took a little trip to the South Shore of Massachusetts to Hingham that I want to share.

First some background:

Mark Wahlburg?  Donnie Wahlburg? Familiar with these names?

I have to admit I am a huge Mark fan.  In fact, I blame my first born for her 10 day delivery delay and keeping me in the hospital in June of 2000 when the movie The Perfect Storm opened and Mark was at the opening in my home town and I missed it!  Albeit for a good reason.  She was worth it.

Yes, I would have been in that crowd!

If you tune into the A&E Channel at all you will know that the brothers have opened a burger joint.

http://www.aetv.com/wahlburgers

 And it is located here in Mass.  Lucky us!!

We popped down for a visit before Christmas.

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And while the burgers were good and well priced – we did not see Mark.  Or Donnie.

But we did see the other brother Paul, the celebrity chef, Wahlburg.  That had me my girls content.

Here are some shots from our day.

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Yes we totally pulled the whole groupie ‘let’s take selfies the whole time’ thing.  It was really fun!

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Meet the Author

Not much happens around these parts.

But when one of your favorite cookbook authors comes to the area it’s a good idea to go!

I have mentioned there is a small group of us who similarly cook .  One of the paleo cookbook authors we seem to like the best is Danielle Walker of Against All Grain.  She has a newer book out Meals Made Simple.  I even have her two e-book cookbooks which is a huge rule breaker for me – but they are worth it!

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I cannot name one recipe yet from either of these books that has not been a hit!  She has this way of making grain free foods taste just like the recipes in my old repertoire.  Like Beef Stroganoff, and Chicken and RIce Casserole.  Foods I have missed.

Her book tour brought her to our area Friday night.  And we went!!

Following a stop at Legal Seafoods we enjoyed her talk, Q&A and then the book signing!

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She is even sweeter in person.

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And more beautiful.

She took the time to speak to everyone and asked us questions.  It was a lovely night!

Low Carb Breakfast Casserole

One of my traditional foods for Christmas has been a Breakfast Casserole.

You know the kind – a big layer of bread/croutons, drenched in eggs, sausage, cream of mushroom soup and layers of cheese?  You make it the day before and pop in the oven the day of?

I have missed it.  Especially on holiday mornings.

This year I tripped on Melissa’s at Satisfying Eats version and I knew I wanted to try.  I own two of Melissa’s cookbooks.  I crossed my fingers!

Breakfast Casserole

I’ll let you read her post where she details the recipe but I have to warn you!

It was good.

Really good.

Like, the Mr. said ‘Oh, I have missed this‘ good.

The secret ingredient? SPAGHETTI SQUASH.

And, it prepped in half the time of the old recipe.

I just combined all the ingredients in a big bowl

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Spread it into my baking dish.

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Sealed and wrapped for the morning.

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I squealed when it came out of the oven.

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The leftovers heated well the next day too.

And while I was eating up eggs and veggies for breakfast.  I have to admit the ugly truth.

Our other traditional Christmas Breakfast involved Monkey Bread (click here for an oldie!)

The kind that we used the frozen dough balls and it would rise on the counter overnight.  The girls would ohh and ahh in the morning to see it transformed into a goey breakfast treat.  I took it away years ago.

I broke.  And got them this.

Not my finest moment.  It is their Christmas too.


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I simply love the 0g of TransFats on the box.  Like that would make a difference.

And pay no mind to those pretzel candy things in the background ;)

It was Christmas (but no, I did not have one!).

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I Was Featured!

Unscheduled Post Alert!

Yesterday I was featured for my Food Prep post here at Wake Up Wednesday Linky Party.

I told the girls at breakfast today and they asked ‘is that a big deal?’

Umm, pretty big deal for me when you’re just a little blog trudging along.

And while you have to scroll way way down on the list and look for the green zucchini  – I am there!!

Thank you Ladies!!

Cookbook Confusion

 I read exclusively on my Kindle these days.

With one exception.

Cookbooks

I cannot function with an eBook.  It just does not work for me.

Which is a problem when you are re-learning how to cook/bake in a grainfree-sugarfree-paleo-primal kind of way.

This has led to a major cookbook collection for me over the past year.  I wrote about some of my new books about a year ago.  You can view that here.  But a lot of things have changed in a year.

I wandered into Barnes and Nobles with Lulu who had some gift cards burning in her little new purse.  While I left her in the ‘teen’ section I sought this out.

Woah

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I am particular about what books I will buy.  It’s kind of like inviting a new friend into your home.  It feels like a commitment.  Am I willing to try things out of my comfort zone, are there really good pictures, what makes this book different from the last I purchased, will my family even consider trying it?

I mainly purchase my cookbooks on Amazon where I can read hundreds of reviews before I select one.

But when you see them all in person – woah – that’s a LOT of Paleo books.  I am impressed.  And pleased that my way of eating is becoming a two shelf subject at a store.

These are the ones I am cooking from these days and the ones I will reference with most of my posts.  Some are primal, some are paleo, some use sugar, some don’t.  But I am learning to adapt my needs from a recipe and that is the point right?!  (most images from Amazon)

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And while gluten free books usually don’t fit with my way of eating I did see this on the shelf at B&N!

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And was excited as I follow most of the blogs of the books I posted but I especially love Jo-Lynn Shane’s blog for her food, fashion and family journey she shares!

I look forward to adding to my collection.  Do you have a favorite book that it is not in my list?!

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Content

Being 2015 I thought I would post a short update of where I am and a little of where I have been.

I have written a bit about my journey here to get healthy, fit and feel better.  Some of that can be found here and here.

Easter of 2012 I decided to go cold turkey and cut all flour, grains and sugar.  All at once.  I went low carb and high fat. Then amazing things started to happen to me.  I decided after a 40 pound weight loss to continue with this ‘way of life’.

Here I am on Christmas Day.  Smiling.

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I was happy to get up and get dressed, be with my family and enjoy the day. I have a new hair cut and I even have a cocktail sitting next to me.

I am content.

Today:

I float in a 5 pound up and down range from my lowest weight.  At first this freaked me out a bit but I am in my (ahem) later forties, and I have added foods back into my diet that I would have not eaten 2.5 years ago.  So I give myself that window.  I have t(w)eens watching. I have to set a good example.

My skin basically still looks great.  In fact my t(w)eens tell me they are envious.

I enjoy TRX these days.I still work out 2-3 times a week.  I would like it to be more but I just can’t do it – i just get sore.  In fact sometimes I slip to 1-2 times but it is a main goal of mine this year to get to three solid times a week.  I admit that I have lost a bit of my tone.  I can pinch that inch again.  My curves are coming back.  But more importantly –  I am okay with that.

I am still wearing the same jeans I bought for the third winter in a row.  After 20 years of on again, off again Weight Watchers I have never held the weight off for more than 3 months.  I can’t wait to celebrate 3 years.

I just feel better.  Honestly, other than a bout with a sinus issue before Christmas I have not been ill in 2.5 years.  There is a lot to be said for a healthy gut.

I have enjoyed seeking out cookbooks/website and recipes that keep me interested in new foods.  I have found real life friends who enjoy cooking the way I do and they have been a great support system for me.

In full disclosure – it is not all perfect.

I still deal with body issues in the mirror.  I have watched the Mr. jump ship and return to eating pasta, pizza and candy.  I have t(w)eens – they stress me out.

I still think I have a major thyroid issue going on.

My hair is getting whiter.

Yet, I am content.  I have no reason to change what I am doing.  This works for me.

I lost my voice for a while in 2014 as I dealt with some issues.  I am feeling stronger and looking forward to sharing more new foods, recipes, and ways of doing things with you in 2015.

Food Prep

We are on Christmas Break here in New England.  I decide to re-post one of my most favorite posts of the year in honor of the end of the year.  We all need to be reminded HOW to be successful!

Have a healthy and happy start to the Near Year 2015.

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There are times I am more successful than others.

About 6 months into changing my lifestyle I realized I needed to plan better so I could do better.

One book I read early on helped me learn how to maintain this lifestyle: Paleoista.  It gave such great ideas on how to manage food better.   It takes time but I have learned that if I have the right food on hand in the house and it is prepped correctly I can function.

Honestly, I can have a fridge stuffed with fresh organic veggies and protein but if they are just sitting in the original bags they usually go bad before I get to them.

I thought I would share my top three favorite things that help me.

Veggie Prep:

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One of my favorite meals is a stir-fry.  It gets my veggies in with healthy fats and some protein.  Once I have all my fresh broccoli and cauli and zucchini in the fridge I prep:

Broccoli – I purchase at least two bags (about 6-8 heads)  I cut it all down into pieces and pack it into large Ziploc bags.  Then I steam half of it – and store it cooked in a glass container.  That way I can stir-fry quickly or if I am short on time I can heat up the pre-cooked really fast.

Cauli – I usually bring two home.  I also cut this into smaller pieces.  Half I put into a Ziploc bag for steaming later on in the week and the other half I run through the food processor and store it in another glass container so I can easily make cauli rice.

Zucchini – No less than 6-8 zukes.  I love zucchini.  I pull out my mandolin and slice it all up into coin sized pieces and store it all in glass containers.  Then it is ready for stir fry.  Sometimes I save 3 and make zucchini noodles but I do that the day of.

If I do all this on my grocery shop day – I usually end up eating it all by the week’s end.

Protein

Since my allergy testing I try to stick to mainly chicken.  Nothing is worse than defrosting chicken and not getting it cooked in time.  I literally have to write it in my calendar three days after I take it out – so I am not tossing it out.

I prep it so many different ways – bake, grilled, roast, stir-fry, crock-pot and poached.  It just depends on the season.  Lately – I have been poaching.  In large batches.  And the easiest way to shred all this:

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Just toss it in the Kitchen Aid!6-IMG_8544

Sometimes I use it right away – sometimes I refreeze it.  It is all about having it ready to go.

Bacon

OK – while I have cut way back on pork in general – that does not include bacon.

I love bacon.

A little too much – and I have found that if I cook a package of bacon – there is little left for the recipe I made it for.

The best advice I got on this was – freeze it in smaller portion sizes.

Seriously this is a game changer.  Now I can pull 2-3 slices at a time from the freezer and it is ready by dinner time to cook just what I need for dinner.
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All of these suggestions make it easier – the trick is to just carve out time.

These are the glass storage containers that I use:

Pyrex 6 Piece Storage Set

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The Photo Shoot

This is my yearly obligatory sharing of our Christmas Card photo shoot.

We have made a tradition of doing this on Veteran’s Day in November.  Each year we are able to JUST catch the last burst of leaves on the trees and autumn in the air.

This year was no different.

I even let the girls style their own outfits this year.  It’s all part of my ‘Let it Go’ theme for the year ;)

We started at Salem Willows, an old amusement park in the area on the harbor.

Coco will be 14.5 on Christmas and Lulu is 12.

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Lulu wanted to take a few.  And I brought the tripod along this year.

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Then we moved along to a local depot in another town after the suggestion of a friend.

The timing of the light could have not been more perfect!

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I am not foolish enough to think I will have these traditions with my girls forever.  This photo in particular captures that thought for me perfectly….

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A Buffet to Paint

Did you happen to notice this piece of furniture in my last post?

1-IMG_9257While I will agree it is not the prettiest of pieces it is new to me.  Which means it is not new…at all.  It’s an old heavy solid wood Drexel buffet.  And it’s green.  As in 1970’s avocado kitchen-like green.

I purchased it at a used furniture store.  Cheap.  I had HUGE plans for this buffet.

It was meant to hold my TV out in the white room.  But it was too big.

Then it landed in our bedroom to hold the TV and other things … for a while.  It was not serving us well in there.  As a last ditch effort before it went to the Freecycle – I placed it here.  In this odd little room off of our Family Room.

It’s perfect.  Honestly, it was meant to be right here.  And, while it’s not a crisp linen white color – the green blends perfectly.

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I had the chance to really enjoy the extra table top space recently when I hosted friends for coffee recently.


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And yes, I did serve my guests the option of sugar along with my favorite flavored stevia sweeteners.  3-IMG_9204

I still may paint the piece but for now I am content.

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New England Village & My Holiday Trick

My teen this year declared she was freeing my Dept. 56 New England Village from the attic this year.

While I lugged it all down, and organized the boxes for her she jumped into setting the village up.

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I am not sure why it has not seen the light of day for so many years.

Well, yes I do.

Small curious fingers and lack of space are two main reasons.  Also all of my pieces are retired now making me feel very protective.

Between two Christmas Trees, candles in the windows and now the village I dreaded the thought of running around at dusk everyday to flip things on then off again at bedtime.

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My Holiday Trick?  I use timers.  I adore timers.

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The girls enjoy coming down in the early morning to find things lit and they don’t even know that by the time they leave for school it’s all off again.

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 When I come home alone after dark and find the house all aglow.  It just warms my heart.

I suspect know that I will be the one putting it all away in January.

That would be another reason I have not used it in so long!