Food · Recipes

Paleo Cauliflower Chili (also perfect for Keto with or without added meat)

This is a story on how to easily make several different chilies for one party of people who has several different diets. Whew!

I had been bragging to my brothers about the Keto cornbread and how there was no cornmeal in the muffins, but that it truly tasted like real cornbread. Well, they decided to drive practically across country to taste it. Uh-oh. Time to put my money where my mouth was. (grin)

Keto cornbread recipe
Click here for an easy cheesy Keto cornbread muffin recipe. https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/sandramccall.com/3477

No worries because the little Keto cornbread muffins really are delicious, but what do I want to serve with the bread? Chili of course!

My company included both brothers and one sister-in-law. Then there was Les who HAS to have beans in his chili and myself who is (mostly) staying on Keto. One brother has no diet restrictions, one brother is Keto and my sister-in-law is Paleo-vegetarian.

Vegetarian Paleo Chili served with hot buttered mini Keto cornbread muffins.
Vegetarian Paleo Cauliflower Chili. To make it Keto, just add meat such as browned ground beef. Serve with hot-buttered Keto corn bread mini muffins. I actually forgot to add cheddar cheese and jalapenos to these muffins but they were still delicious.

OK, no problemo, I started with the basic veggies and then altered each pot of chili to fit my guest’s needs. That ended up being three separate, but similar dishes.

All chili versions began by sauteing the peppers, diced tomatoes and onions in butter. Spices were added to the basic veggie mix as it cooked. The cauliflower was riced and thrown into the microwave to soften it, but not to make it mushy. To add a little “meat” to the Paleo chili, I added chopped walnuts.

In a separate skillet, I browned ground beef for all except Debbie, adding a little garlic powder, salt and pepper as that cooked. I used canned pinto beans to add to the boy’s chili leaving the beans out of my Keto beef mix and leaving the cauliflower/walnut mix out of Rich and Les’ chili. Now it was just a matter of combining the foods that matched each person’s diet into separate pots and then leaving them on the stove to simmer for about 1/2 hour.

Paleo Chili- Also great for Keto with or without added meat)

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS
Note: I used all the colors of bell peppers just because I think that they are pretty, but you can stick with just one green pepper if you like)

3 tbs avocado oil (or oil/butter of your choice)
I head riced cauliflower, cooked in microwave until soft but not mushy
1 small yellow or brown onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 yellow bell pepper
1 cup chopped walnuts
2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 14 oz can tomato sauce
1 small can diced jalepenos
1 tbs cumin
1 tbs oregano
1 tbs dried parsley
1/2 tbs cayenne
1 tbs chili powder
2 tbs onion powder
2 tbs garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:
1. Into a deep skillet, heat avocado oil and saute all veggies except the cauliflower.
2. Add garlic and all dried seasonings except salt and pepper to the veggies skillet and stir to combine. Continue to saute until the onions begin to look translucent.

Note: At this point, I divided the veggie skillet into two separate soup pots so that Les did not get any cauliflower in his chili. Heaven forbid!

3. As the veggies cook, microwave the riced cauliflower plus the chopped walnuts in about 1/4 cup water- until soft but not mushy.
4. Into a soup pot with the veggie mix, add the tomatoes, sauce and jalepenos. Stir to combine bringing to a boil.
5. Lower the temp and simmer on the stove for about half an hour, stirring occasionally.
6. Add salt and pepper to taste and possibly more chili powder if needed.

My Hometown · Travels

Music Rains Down on the Streets of Prescott

Well whew! This morning marks the close of another Acker Night, a family friendly musical feast in downtown Prescott that is not to be missed. Accented with flashing Christmas lights in their hair, hats and clothing, the fun loving crowds make this annual event crazy and infectious. Even I, a self proclaimed antisocial, reclusive person, was persuaded to attend as my husband’s videographer for his band Famous in Denmark . It turned out that I had a great time people watching. Unfortunately, I did not get to go out to photograph other bands and people because I did not want to leave all of our cameras and equipment unattended, so you will have to bear with photos and a video of just Les’ band this time. (grin)

I can happily attest that the gathering last night was fun, festive and loving. I say loving because, with these crowds, patience is required. I don’t know if it is just because of the season or if it is because we live in a wonderful town with very kind people. Whatever it is, last night was so incredibly enjoyable and, yep, this is coming from me – a lady who does not like crowds at all.

Related Christmas lights and crowds in Prescott, AZ courthouse square.image
Christmas lights and crowds in Prescott’s courthouse square.

Acker Night is free. It is kind of like a walking studio tour through all of downtown Prescott. Instead of artist’s studios though, you will walk into a huge variety of cute and cool stores to watch musicians perform. The stores stay open late and judging from the multiple bags of goodies that many people were carrying, it is also a great time to come downtown to do your Christmas shopping as well. Each store features select performers where the music ranges from classical, to folk, to soul to funk to rock and, well, to EVERYTHING music.

Each location has donation bags where people leave “tips” if you will. It all goes to the Acker scholarship fund to be collected at the end of the night. In fact, the entire non-profit event is put on by volunteers. From the administrators to the store owners to the musicians to the performers, everyone pitches in for free to make this a night to remember.

The band, Famous in Denmark" setting up to play Acker Night in prescott, AZ
Just setting up. There is a ton of equipment that needs to be arranged to fit into this little corner of the shop. From left to right we have Paul, the drummer, Steve-the bass player and Les on lead guitar. The singer disappeared for a while and isn’t in this shot.

The fun starts early in the day with shopping and eating, of course. 5:00 PM marks the opening ceremonies including a performance from the Prescott High School Choir. Then, all night long, Santa roams the streets to take pictures with you. Hmmm…the roaming Santa sounds kind of creepy, LOL, but it was fun seeing some comedic type folks posing and taking selfies with him. At 5:30, the musicians promptly start the rest of the evening’s fest. They play continuously until 8:30PM. Then they get to break down while the guests get to continue their shopping and partying.

Acker Night musicians, Famous in Denmark
You can’t tell in the pictures, but Les is wearing a cool red jacket and tie with Santa cats printed all over. It looked so fun and festive.
Acker Night in Prescott, AZ
Pulled back to show that they are playing in a little corner of a store. I’m trying to get some pics by standing on the stairs leading up to the art gallery.

How the heck did Acker Night start anyway? Here is a quick run-down on the history from the Acker Night Facebook page.

“When Mr. Acker died in 1955, he left a number of parcels of land to the City of Prescott, to be used for parks and music programs for ​children.​​​​​

In 1988 Prescott resident LaVon Anderson ​who was a strong advocate of children’s music programs herself, had a dream to mesh music and Prescott’s historic downtown together in a memorable event.
Music and the Christmas holidays was a natural pairing and she used that marriage to spearhead the J.S. Acker Musical Showcase in December 1988. The J.S. Acker Musical Showcase was quick to take off. The December event now features over 135 Prescott downtown businesses with over 400 musicians and performers donating their time, talent and businesses for this event. ​​​

From 8 performers in 8 shops in 1988 to over 400 performers in over 130 shops today, Acker Night has become one of Prescott’s most beloved events. “

Funny story about how the band got it’s name. When Cory announced the band’s name, someone shouted out, “We’ve never heard of you!” It just so happened that there was a group of Danish tourists in the bar that night. One of the Danish ladies shouted back, “”Well, they are famous in Denmark!” Everyone laughed and the name stuck when people started to refer to them as “Famous in Denmark”.

Suggestions for when you visit Prescott for Acker Night next year:

  • Dress in layers. It can be chilly to freezing here in December.
  • Be patient. It will be crowded.
  • Check out the Acker Facebook page. They have programs and schedules so that you can mark off in advance what you want to see.
  • Prescott has lots of bars, bakeries, food and coffee houses that stay open late for the event, so you don’t have to worry about bringing anything if you don’t want to. I did bring two bottles of water, but that’s it.
  • Come early enough to find parking. We have a new, large parking structure downtown, so check that out as well as street parking. If you do not want to park downtown, there are shuttles running from Augie’s at Frontier Village where there is a ton of parking.
  • Bring cash in case you want to donate to the non-profit.
  • Finally, enjoy yourself and clap loudly and enthusiastically for the bands who donate so much of their time and energy to further the cause of musical scholarships and instruments for the youngsters.
Happy Holidays!
Home Decor

My 2019 Christmas Cottage Decor

Merging the past with the present is what I’m all about this year. Previously I have tried to make each holiday as different from the last as I could. Each season would be bustled in with new ideas, themes and decor. This year, however, I seem to be searching for calm and caring re-connections. As I peered into each storage tub, it occurred to me that I had many old, forgotten treasures from which to choose. In time, it became clear that I did not want to choose a vivid color theme. I wanted all of my old slightly worn friends on display and so this year’s sentimental theme began to take shape.

An eclectic cottage with neutral colored Christmas decorations
The living room is just as eclectic this year as the bedroom, however it is a bit more muted. It is low key and rather neutral in color except for a few pops of red. It’s funny because I pulled bin after bin out of storage and into the living room. After the dust settled I wondered where all of the stuff went. It actually looks kind of empty to me now.
Rustic glam flocked Christmas tree full of ornaments
The tree is a slim line flocked tree with mostly neutral colored ornaments. I packed a ton of ornaments in and on this tree. Natural materials as well as metallics and glittered ornaments are represented. I’m calling this tree’s theme “rustic glam.”
Christmas ornaments
My favorites ornaments are the ones that look kind of old fashioned with sweet little animal scenes tucked inside.
2019 Christmas Cottage
I left the bookcases where they were and just swapped out fall decor for Christmas. The center section has a few of my soft Santa figures staged n a little tree forest.”The chair” got a quick cover of striped fabric with a soft, furry throw. I love this little rustic tree with the simply wrapped packages clustered at the base.
Christmas decor in my cottage entryway.
The entryway went back to simple artwork on the wall. The grey dollhouse is now off the dining table and stationed here in the entry. I’ve placed my little old feather tree on the white chippy table and decorated it with cute small ornaments, still in the neutral color scheme.
a collection of Belsnickles
I LOVE Belsnickles and other Santa figures . Though my collection is small and unimportant, it is cherished because I remember fondly where and when I picked up each and every one of them.
photo montage of 2019 Christmas decorations
The bottom corner shows some of the simple gift wrapping for this year.
Garlands draped over a mirror reflecting a pretty Christmas tree
Reflections of a Christmas tree. I went with four garlands draped over the entry mirror. You can see that I also collect glitter houses and little scenes in domes. Love those.
A photo montage of Christmas decor
Another collection- those cute little natural wooden houses. Little houses get me every time. The Christmas tree is a painting that Les did for me about 15 years ago. I love that rustic primitive look.
snowflakes pinned to an abstract painting hang above a Christmas village.
I was going to paint a Christmas scene for the concrete wall but was running out of time. Instead, I decided to return the abstract piece that was there previously. Snowflake ornaments strung with twine are pinned onto the top edge of the canvas to give it some sparkle.
This little shelf is in the kitchen above the fridge. My kitchen is simply styled with white uppers and with grey lower cabinets.
Won’t you share a few pics of your holiday decor in the comments section? I would love to see what you do.
Modern farmhouse Christmas decorations
I believe in the magic. Do you?
Food · Recipes

Sugar Free Maple Walnut Bon-bons

I sure do miss the See’s Candy stores that used to be in all of the malls in my town. You know the ones that I mean- the ones with an entire collection of the candy line-up and with free samples of whichever candies that you wanted to try. Sadly, all of that is gone now in my little town. But the memories remain – and what sweet memories they are too!

The taste of these maple walnut bon-bons are exactly as I remember them from long ago visits to See’s Candy stores.

The maple walnut bon-bons were such a favorite of mine that I had to try to make a Keto copycat version of that candy. Just in time for the holidays, these delicious bon-bons will be perfect to serve your guests. Even the non- Keto- sugar loving people will love them.

My excuse for the not-too-pretty chocolate coating is that my kitchen was cold this morning. The chocolate kept hardening up as soon as I covered one bon-bon so the look is less than stellar, but they still taste great. Why didn’t I wait until the day warmed up? Ha! What, me wait?

Keto Maple Walnut Bon-bons

  • Servings: approx 24
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon sugar free maple syrup (I used Lakanto Monk Fruit maple syrup)
1 1/4 cups powdered Swerve confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
1 cup chopped walnuts (you can toast them for a deeper flavor, but it’s not necessary)
8 oz Lilly’s chocolate chips (or any sugar free brand that you like)

DIRECTIONS
1. Add the softened butter, maple syrup, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and maple extract to a medium sized bowl. Use a hand mixer to combine and then beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
2. Stir in walnuts. Chill for 30 minutes or until candy is firm.
3. Scoop balls of candy, roll to shape and place on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Return to freezer to chill a little more in preparation for dipping.
4. Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl according to package directions. Cover each bon-bon with the melted chocolate and replace onto the cookie sheet.

Let the chocolate coating harden before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Home Decor

Join Me on a Tour of My 2019 Christmas Bedroom

Approximately one year ago I decided that I was getting tired of seasonal decorating. Next year, I thought, there would be no more garlands all around the front porch- no more gigantic, overly decorated trees- no more little Christmas elements stuck on every shelf. I was as beat up as an old bat trapped outside of her cave.

Well… fast forward to this year – a lot can happen to one’s psyche in a year don’cha know. Maybe it’s the Keto lifestyle kicking in. It really does punch up the energy factor to sky high. Or, more likely, it’s retirement from the post office. Whoot-whoot! This year is the first time in many that I also decorated the bedroom for Christmas. Come along then – let me show you what I did.

Restful bed at Christmas time
The bed got the full treatment too. I usually do not go with printed sheets. It’s always plain white for me or else I wake up with nightmares that spiders are on the bed. No kidding. Too much information? LOL This year I am an adult so I figured that I could handle a plain little red and white plaid. So far, no problem.
Crafty Christmas pillows with reindeer silhouettes on them
Let’s start the craft talk with me showing off these cute little reindeer pillows. The base was a plain, square pillow cover that I bought at Ikea. My first idea was to silkscreen something onto the covers, but this year I’m pretty much into handcrafted rustic style- isn’t everybody? I searched the net for reindeer silhouette clip art. Then I printed out what I liked, cut it out and traced around the cut-out with a permanent ink pen. (Permanent Uniball-bold forever Baby!)
The last step was to sew pieces of ribbon and buttons to the cover.
And you just know that there is some other pillow stuck under the cover. Gotta save space where I can.
Comfy, cozy Christmas bedroom ideas.
Our comfy, cozy bedroom full of rustic and kitschy elements. The pops of classic Christmas red are a departure for me as I usually go with more neutrals.
childhood Christmas memories
When I see a Christmas element that reminds me of my childhood, I get it. That is what it’s all about, right? Being a kid again?
I also looked for free Christmas printables online. I found this watercolor print at Hip 2 Save
Wing back chair with Christmas decor
Notice the double garland on the mirror. This year is all about “the more the merrier” with garlands.
pillow made with placemats
This little red snowflake pillow began life as a small place-mat for the table. You can find instructions and quite a few more ideas for making fun and inexpensive pillows here.
Tall, rustic Santas grouped with a primitive, rustic Christmas tree
I try to make cohesive vignettes with my decorative smalls. That way, the overall look is not just a huge hodge-podge of stuff and things stacked everywhere.
Vintage Christmas ornaments
A charming little shadow box holds vintage smalls that my Aunt B. used to pick up for Les and I. Barbara has sadly passed earlier this year so these little trinkets are even more sentimental to us now. The mixed media ornament on top of the box was made by a local artisan here in Prescott.
Bedroom decorated for Christmas
I love how the bedroom is reflected in the closet doors. It doubles the Christmas decorations and heightens the fun for me.
Christmas shelf decorations
See that Santa on the right? When I found him at a thrift store- where else?- I thought that he was so cool and oh-so vintage. While looking through my new Country Sampler magazine, I saw him listed at $29.95. Laughing all the way, I showed the item to Les. He has always stated that I only like new- old stuff because I tend to go for “vintage look” over the real deal. It would appear that he knows me so well.

Merry Christmas everyone! No matter what holidays you celebrate, I wish you and yours the very best season and all the new year to come.

Home Decor

My Pared Down Autumn Decor

Can you believe that it’s almost Christmas? Again?! I’m so excited to show you my Christmas decorations reveal, but first, take a look at what the living room looked like before the Christmas transformation.

wheat stalks for fall
Living room entryway
In preparation for Thanksgiving visitors, I removed all items that were strictly Halloween decorations and added just a few fall touches to the living room. This is the entryway wall. I had to move the grey dollhouse over here to clear the dining table for company.

After the hoopla of my Halloween decorations, autumn looks very understated. To make a fast transformation I took away all things that were strictly Halloween and added a few fall touches to complete my living room in time for Thanksgiving company.

free fall printables
I started the presto-change-o by printing out a few free autumnal mages. You can find them here. and here.
morning sun casting shadows on a terracotta pot filled with pumpkins and fall fruit
Early morning light falls on a terracotta bowl filled with pumpkins, fall fruits and a bittersweet vine.
wooden cat on a white chippy table
Wooden cat on a white, chippy table
concrete wall in living room
power wall, wall of bookshelves
wooden pumpkin bowl
Found this adorable little wooden pumpkin bowl at a thrift store for just pennies.
coffee table dressed for fall
Early morning sun casts such interesting geometric shadows, don’t you think?
favorite coffee spot
This is my favorite spot to sit and read and have my coffee in the morning. It’s a great way for me to gather my thoughts before the day’s activities.
Mixed media sculptures by Les gains
While I’m showing you around the living room, I thought that you might like to see some of Les’ mixed media figures.
Mixed media figures by Les Gains
Les used lamp fittings- the part that light bulbs go into- and clay to craft these little guys.
abandoned bird's nests
On his walks around the property, Les also found and created a place for these little abandoned bird’s nests.

And now, just like that, the next post will be to share my Christmas decorations. It is the first time that I decorated even the bedroom. I usually just do the kitchen and the living room for company, but this year… well, you’ll see.

Christmas ornaments
And, before I could blink, it was time to dig out Christmas ornaments.
crochet

Another Free Crochet Pattern- The Wave Stitch

Crochet in fall and winter? Oh yeah! What better craft to keep you warm while you are constructing it?

I wanted to make an afghan for my Mom that would be super soft against her frail skin but that would still keep her warm and cozy. I used a supposedly baby blanket yarn from Bernat. I say supposedly because when I was finished with the afghan, I realized that it would be too heavy and would smother my bed-ridden mother let alone an infant. The finished afghan is way heavier than expected. I’ll confess though, that was probably my fault since I used a heavily textured crochet pattern called the “Wave” stitch and a size 10mm crochet hook.

The Wave crochet pattern
Another free crochet pattern called The Wave Stitch. This one is soft and heavily textured – perfect for a chilly winter morning.
The Wave crochet pattern
Ah well, I got carried away with making the afghan too chunky, but the blanket really is soft and warm, so I’m using it on the little bed in my reading/craft room.

There are seriously thousands of free crochet patterns on the web. The variety of styles and difficulties of pattern can be mind boggling. Talk about spending hours cruising the web. This pattern comes from a square that was used in a patchwork sampler afghan. I liked the square so much that I decided to make a whole afghan out of that “Wave stitch” pattern.

The crochet pattern written instructions can be found here: Crochet Along Afghan Sampler from the Inspired Wren. Check out her blog for a ton more cool crochet patterns.

If you would prefer to see a video tutorial, I found the one linked below to be really clear and concise.

The difference between my afghan and this one is the border. I used a ribbed crochet stitch instead of the single crochet border shown here.
The Wave crochet pattern
To make the ribbed border just do a single crochet all around and then follow up with a back loop only single crochet all around. Repeat for several more rows until the border is the width that you like.

Bundle up and stay warm. Happy holidays!

Food · Recipes

Easy Keto Penuche

You may recall my post about a caramel sauce using Keto friendly “brown sugar”. Well, the taste of that sauce brought back such fond memories of penuche that I knew I had to make some for the holiday festivities. When I was a kid, I used to spend part of my lunch money to buy it almost every day at the convenience store on the way home from school and I STILL love the flavor. (Don’t tell Mom though.)

Easy Keto penuche
Easy Keto friendly Penuche
(I’m noticing how the bottom looks like a darker layer of something but it is just the shadow from the dish. Sorry about any confusion from the picture. LOL, There is not a second layer of darker caramel or anything.)

Sometimes penuche candy is referred to as brown sugar fudge because of the creamy texture. It can be shaped as a little patty or it can be cut into squares like a fudge, but it is all the same- a creamy, delicious brown sugar flavored confection packed with nuts.

In this recipe, you do not need a candy thermometer or any of the lengthy machinations that were involved in the old directions. Nope. I experimented a little but I didn’t stray too far from a traditional recipe except to make this candy very easy, very fast and Keto friendly.

Brown sugar candy made with Xylitol and brown sugar flavor extract
Brown sugar candy made with Xylitol and brown sugar flavor extract

I used my own “brown sugar” concoction with Xylitol and brown sugar flavor extract. You can find the details in the caramel sauce post. The Swerve Brown sweetener seemed to crystallize on cooling more than the Xylitol, but it works if you don’t want to buy a brown sugar flavor extract to make your own “brown sugar” substitute.

You will need to prepare a foil lined baking dish to make cut squares or a foil lined cookie sheet to make candy patties. I used the baking dish this time. The easiest way to line a baking dish with foil is to first shape it over the back side of the dish and then fit it inside.

how to line a baking dish with foil

Easy Keto Penuche

  • Servings: 90 pcs
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients


– 1 cup butter, either salted or not
– 2 cups granulated Xylitol
– 2 tsp brown sugar flavor extract
– 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 3 1/2 cups powdered Swerve sweetener
– 1 cup chopped walnuts (it’s good with peanuts as well)

Directions


Prepare an 8×8 baking dish lined with foil and sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray (I use avocado spray)

1. Mix the Xylitol with the brown sugar flavor extract until well combined
2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over med-high heat
3. Add the “brown sugar” and bring to a boil, stirring constantly
4. Pour in the cream stirring for another five minutes or so
5. Remove from heat and let cool for about 30 minutes
6. Stir in the vanilla extract and walnuts
7. Pour into a foil lined 8×8 baking dish, cover with fol and continue to cool in the refrigerator until firm
8. Remove from dish and cut into small squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Be sure to cut this candy into fairly small squares. It is SWEET and guaranteed to satisfy even the biggest sweets fans out there.