Happy Halloween and inside out caramel apples

Happy Hallow’s Eve from the Diabetic Kitchen. I hope you have an awesome yet safe night and don’t over do it with the candy. You know who you are. Mumika is one of them.

 

Since I was probably in Pre-K wearing my Snow White costume Mumika made from scratch that put all other Snow White’s to shame, Halloween has been my favorite holiday. I remember when I was 10, Mumika and I were flying home from England (my grandpa had died and we were there for his funeral which I was also furious about) and I was furious I was going to miss Halloween due to the time difference. Who flys on Halloween, seriously? Mumika was all, no you aren’t going trick or treating and I think I literally pulled the, “But grandpa would want me to go trick or treating” response. I have no clue if I went that year or not, but the next year was full of awesomeness until we lost my best friend’s cousin.

Oddly enough, I don’t love Halloween for the candy. I’m not much of a candy person which made Mumika quite happy since she got most of my trick or treating score. If it wasn’t nerds, sweettarts, kitkats, m&m’s, nestle crunch bars, almond joys, mounds, or reese’s piece, I wanted nothing to do with it. We did have to share the hershy’s bars and reese’s peanut butter cup. I just love the spirit of the holiday. The dark hauntingness. You add the fact that Hocus Pocus came out during my childhood, and how can I not love Halloween.

I so have to go back to Salem one year.

In the spirit of Halloween before pumpkins officially tae over our lives, I’m going to focus on apples. At the first spa I worked at, my boss gave us caramel apples one year, and I love how it becomes a big thing this time of year.

However, I can’t be normal about these things. Nope. Not at all. Also, it is incredibly hard to cut through those damn caramel apples, so I decided to make the alternative….inside out caramel apples. One apple will be dedicated to a tradition caramel apple, the second – a salted caramel apple, and the third – a caramel apple with a chocolate drizzle.

Of course you can cheat a melt down caramel candies, but that is just not an option for me. That’s right, I’m making my own caramel.

The major thing about normal caramel apples is the thickness of the caramel. Sometimes the coating can equal 5 of those caramel squares. 5 pieces = 30 grams of carbs, 28 grams of sugar. Sure it doesn’t seem like much but in all honesty, are you going to just have one apple slice? Are you really? Don’t lie, you’re going to eat at least half the apple. The whole apple would be 69 grams of carbs with 64 grams of sugar. The worse part, I haven’t even factored the carb and sugar count from the chocolate. Or the nuts. Or if you want to get creative with it – crushed oreos, white chocolate, m&m’s, crushed graham crackers….and what have you.

This whole inside out caramel apple idea is starting to look good, doesn’t it?

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Caramel Apples

3 Granny Smith Apples
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons of light simple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

TO MAKE THE SIMPLE SYRUP: Mix 1 cup water to 1/2 cup sugar. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute. Cool in fridge for 1 day before using.

In a sauce pan over high heat, combine the brown sugar, butter, heavy cream and simple syrup.

Stir until the brown sugar has dissolved.

Bring to boil, stirring occasionally, for 9 minutes.

Remove from heat and add the vanilla, stir continually until it stops bubbling.

Allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes.

While the caramel is cooling, cut your apples in half and use a melon baller to scoop out the insides, leaving the walls intact. I made sure there was atleast 1/4 of an inch border of apple around the well. I also didn’t go that deep with the melon baller. The whole point is moderation and not over doing it. So shallow wells are your friend.

Pour the caramel into the hollowed out apples until just below the top.

Chill in the refrigerator until the caramel has set, about 20 minutes.

Cut into slices.

Makes 24. Per slice.

Biggest tip, if the apple is wet, the caramel won’t stick. So when you go to cut into slices, out pops the caramel. This is what happened to the slices that were meant to be drizzled with chocolate. Needless to say I was livid.

First and foremost – OMG this is the best caramel I have ever tasted. What’s great is that it makes too much caramel. Meaning now you have amazing caramel sauce to put on your ice cream, in your coffee, on your apple praline pancakes. Incorporate it in your apple pie this thanksgiving. Or if your having a bad day like I did, maybe eat it off a spoon gently dipped in the caramel. Mumika just freaked reading this. She hasn’t read it yet but I can already feel it. Mechelle! How dare you! Think about your diabetes! I said gently dipped. It’s not like I got a big ass spoon and ate an overly generous dollop of the stuff.

So yeah, caramel sauce = awesomeness squared to infinity times infinity. Once you make this, you will never look back. This is change your life and view of caramel sauce sort thing.

I loved everything about this. Everything. The salted caramel one was the definition of perfection if you like your sweet mixed with your salty with a pop of tart.

Best idea ever Michelle.

Oh and what happened to make my day horrible. The hubby is recovering from a not so pleasant physical affliction, my one client cancelled (which doesn’t surprise me because that’s every Halloween), and when we went to get Bryan’s windshield fixed, the place lost his keys. Furious and livid do not begin to describe how we felt as the people lacklusterily looked for his keys. The boss kept saying, “I left it on the counter” as he barely looked for them. Then he said the receptionist son had come in and might have accidentally taken them. The receptionist was adamant that her son had not taken them and glared at me when I requested her to call her son up just in case. I probably wouldn’t have been so pissed if it wasn’t the only set of key’s to Bryan’s car, but the sheer incompetence and blaming stance did not reconcile me or Bryan. You can blame it on it being Halloween and it being crazy all you want, but you are not fooling me.

Then while I was at HEB, a lady pulled me off to the side and attempted to politely tell me that she could see my polka dot bra. I wanted to tell her that my Halloween costume was being a dirty young celebrity slut like Miley Cyrus or Rihanna, or thank her for reminding me of my fashion faux pas due to the inability to see what I am wearing until I am out in public because we are remodeling the house and do not currently have a mirror. But I didn’t, because my Nana raised me to take the high road and be a lady. I ended up doing a half smile as I said, “Yes, I know.” Oh well, at least it was a cute bra.

How my chocolate drizzled inside out caramel apples were supposed to look. Learn from my mistakes people.

InsideOutCaramelAppleSlices

Kimmikins And Jimmy are coming to visit!!!

A few weeks ago my awesome friend that has been part of my life since sophomore year of high school called stating she wanted to visit this coming weekend. Of course, Bryan and I said yes. Out of all my friends, Kim has been the only one that has visited my house since we moved to Central Texas. She was also the only person that visited me in Boston during undergrad. A few weeks after my first hospitalization, she spent her birthday with me just to make sure I was okay. She’s one of those kindred spirits that if you run across one and they want to be your friend, you can consider yourself one of the luckiest people in the world. And her fiancée is awesome to and get’s along with Bryan so well, which is always an added bonus. You rarely find friends who are part of a  couple that gets along with you and your significant other.

And it gives me something to look forward to and inspiration to clean my house. Which so far still looks like a hurricane went through it, but that’s only because I’ve been boggled down with insane amounts of reading and 2 assignments due in each class this week. Grad school feels chaotic half the time and I am definitely not a fan of the 8 week mini semesters. They are stupid and I want to stab the person that thought they were an idea and convinced colleges across the nation to implement the idea.

I have been struggling with the menu a little. Kim is lactose intolerant, so cheese is a no do along with dairy. As a person that has special dietary needs, I tend to go a little crazy over menus when I know there’s someone coming over that can’t eat certain things. I was very adamant about this at my wedding and made sure everyone had something they could eat. Last thing you want is someone going hungry at a wedding, party, gathering, get together, or what have you.

I want to do lemon drop martinis or pineapple margaritas, as part of the drinking, but the citrus vodka Bryan bought is horrendous. Which means I need normal vodka. And tequila, and maybe triple sec.

So on to the menu

Saturday
Dinner –
Stuffing stuffed pork chops with roasted asparagus, potatoes, onions, and bacon.
Dessert – a strawberry chocolate dump cake
After dinner drinks – Pineapple margaritas or Lemon Drop Martinis

Sunday
Breakfast –
Pancakes of some sort. I originally want to do German chocolate pancakes but I seem to remember that Kim isn’t too fond of pineapple. I could do an apple praline pancake, or a chocolate chocolate chip pancake. Hmmmm…..

And that’s as far as I have gotten because I have no clue how long they are staying on Sunday.

What I do know is that it will be all kinds of fun as usual. And they are bringing their rescue with them for a puppy play date. Kim and I have been discussing puppy play dates for the past 3 years, way before I got my puppies. Kim and Jimmy adopted a cute rescue a few months ago. Yay for dreams becoming a reality. I just hope they all get along.

 

 

 

Roasted Red Peppers

A long time ago, OK more like during the summer, as I was waiting for my new job to start, I watched a lot of food talk shows.

As I was watching Rachel Ray, which is quite rare, she was demonstrating how to make roasted red peppers. While she was peeling the charred skin of the red pepper, I put the whole process in my head and filed it for a rainy day.

And that rainy day happened today. I needed roasted red peppers for my dish today and could not find the jars of the stuff anywhere. If I was in Houston at HEB or Krogers, it would be a simple dash in and out. However, I haven’t fully explored the big HEB or memorized where anything is yet so I was at a loss. Luckily, the red peppers were on sale and I remembered I didn’t need the premade drowned in oil caloric mess. I could make it at home.

Hells yeah!

roastedredpep

Roasted Red Peppers

1 red pepper
A gas stove

Directions

Cut the top off and remove the seeds.

Turn burner on at medium heat.

Put red pepper on burner.

Set fire to it for 5 minutes on one side until all black, charred, and cancerous before flipping to the other side.

Once the red pepper is a hot blacken mess, remove from heat.

Peel charred skin off.

Chop, dice, make strips out of it.

Makes 1 pepper.

I love doing this.

It taste so like fire roasted awesomeness. Its amazing how the flavor profile changes.

Not only is this great for sandwiches, Puerto Rican food, and other delicacies, but to also to snack on.

Caprese Toast

On cold overcast days that come out of no where due to a lot of rain, one needs to make caprese toast.

Whenever Bryan and I go to Olive Garden, he always orders the caprese flatbread and then proceeds to eat it all by himself. The only time I get a triangle is when it is minorly burnt. Which is fine. I will happily give up caprese flatbread for tiramisu.

So when one of my clients brought me fresh basil, the flatbread automatically came to mind. Only problem was, I couldn’t exactly find the flatbread I was looking for. I suppose I could have used Naan, but it is just way too expensive.

French bread, however, is cheap. So French bread it was. Life, after all, is all about improvising.

capresetoast

Caprese Toast

4 slices of French bread
half tomato, chopped
4 basil leaves, torn
1 cup mozzarella, divided

Directions

Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.

Place slices of bread on cookie sheet.

1/4 cup of mozzarella goes on each slice. Sprinkle half of the 1/4 cup of mozzarella on the each bread slice.

Place a few pieces of diced tomato evenly on top of the mozzarella.

Place the torn pieces of basil on top of the tomatoes and cheese.

Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top of the bread slice.

Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.

Makes 8. Per 1/2 slice.

I love this. I absolutely love this. Everything is perfect. The bubbly cheese, the diced tomatoes, the fresh basil.

If you want to take this one step further. Diced the tomatoes ahead of time and put in a bowl with the torn basil. Let it sit in the fridge for an hour before placing it on the bread. This allows those awesome juices to mingle creating vibrant flavor.

In a way, this is sort of a drier version of bruschetta.

Chicken and Dumplings – the cheater’s way

My mother inlaw made chicken and dumplings while Mumika was in town. The chicken was already made so I got to watch how the dumplings were made which is where the real magic happens. Except it wasn’t magic, it was a cheat. She used refrigerated biscuit dough to make the dumplings. I wasn’t horrified, I was intrigued and thankful for learning how to do it.

And then I started craving chicken and dumplings. Which meant finding a recipe for it. And as it turned out ruined chicken and dumplings for Bryan because I went the healthy way and added carrots, onions, and celery.

Ok, I already had the carrots and celery and was looking for a way to use it up. Especially the celery – hate that stuff with a mad passion.

Only problem was, I didn’t know which biscuits to get and after calling Bryan to find out he didn’t know either, we settled on Texas style butter biscuits. Bryan doesn’t like the bitterness of the buttermilk.

Usually I would use chicken breast, but I understood how I needed that awesome flavor of the thigh to achieve the right flavor of the chicken and dumplings.

Personally I like this version of chicken and dumplings. I don’t understand what is up with southern comfort food and no vegetables. Chicken and rice has nothing of veggie value and supposedly the same goes for chicken and dumplings. What is chicken and dumplings, well just chicken and dumplings of course! So it’s broth with a roux and chicken and flour dough that gets cooked in the broth? That’s it? No one people in the south die from heart attacks.

What I love about this recipe is that you make your own chicken broth. I don’t know why, but it makes me feel accomplished even though I have chicken broth readily available in the fridge. I guess that’s why I cheated. If I made the broth from scratch then I could get away with the biscuit dough. But honestly, if you’re in a rush or have some sort f time constraint, biscuit dough is the way to go.
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Chicken and Dumplings

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 pounds boneless chicken thighs
1 teaspoon salt
1  teaspoon black pepper
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup flour
10 cups of water
1 tube of refrigerated Texas butter biscuit dough

Directions

Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat.

Season chicken with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Cook in batches until both sides are brown. Plate chicken and set aside.

Add the celery, carrots, onions, and garlic to the drippings in the pot and cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften.

Add the chicken and water. Bring to a simmer and let it simmer for 30 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a plate and let cool before shredding the chicken and returning it to the pot.

Whisk together the flour, 2 cups of the cooking liquid, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 a teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.

Slowly add the flour mixture into the pot, stir until well combined and simmer until slightly thickened.

Pop open the biscuit dough and cut each biscuit into fourths.

Slowly add the dough to the chicken broth. Put as many pieces of the dough into the broth to create a layer, let it stand there until dough gets puffy and then combined it with the broth. Do this step over and over until there is no more dough left.

Cover the pot and continue simmering for 15 minutes.

Makes 9.

So the original recipe where you make your own dumplings had 517 calories, 52 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of sugar, 4 grams of fiber, and 25 grams of protein.

That totally sucks. Southern comfort cuisine is definitely not for diabetics.

But on the Brightside, one bowl is enough to do you in. And the fiber count is at 4 grams too.

I loved the flavor of the broth. It was nice and inviting. Gave you this feeling of so what if my day totally sucked because my wolf got off her runner and I had to use reverse psychology to get her back, my house smelled like rotten meat because Bryan hasn’t burned trash in nearly a month making me want to throw up whenever I’m downstairs, or that I was out of Dr. Pepper, or that I had to buy insulin, and I had a migraine for two days and my midterm was finally posted and compromised of listing and defining and then sorting out 128 core competencies.

All of that melted away the minute the chicken and dumplings hit my taste buds.

But this is one of those hardly ever sort of meals because if I made this more than twice a year it would kill me.