Saturday, September 20, 2014

Spicy Beef & Cabbage Soup - Slow Cooker Style

This evening we had one of my favorite easy soups for dinner, Spicy Beef & Cabbage Soup. Why is it easy? For one, it's prepared in the crock pot / slow cooker...and on a Friday night, after a long week...I can't tell you how nice it was to come home to a hot meal waiting for me! Secondly, it has very few ingredients and despite that, is unbelievably good. I actually put my soup on to begin cooking late last night before going to bed and cooked it all night long and all day today until I got home from work. The cabbage and beef were so tender and the flavors melded together so nicely in the slightly spicy, flavorful beefy tomato broth. I snapped a few photos for you to see below. The recipe can be found here: Spicy Beef & Cabbage Soup. Enjoy!




      

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Southwestern Style Grilled Chicken Sandwiches & Oven Baked Zucchini Fries

This evening I made Southwestern Style Grilled Chicken Sandwiches for dinner and served them with a side of my Oven Baked Zucchini Fries. It was a simple and deliciously easy meal. I cut up a large zucchini into thick rectangular sticks and dipped them in egg wash and rolled them in my breading mixture and baked them in a 425 degree oven for 25-30 minutes until browned and crisped. While my zucchini fries were baking, I prepared the grilled chicken sandwiches.

I lightly sprayed chicken cutlets with olive oil and seasoned them with McCormick's Grill Mates Chipotle & Roasted Garlic Seasoning and then grilled them for a couple of minutes on each side. I turned the heat off on the grill and topped them with Cabot's Pepper Jack Cheese and let it melt a bit. I served the grilled chicken topped with melted cheese on my grain free Sesame Seed Buns with lettuce and tomatoes. It was a delicious meal. I snapped a few quick photos below. Enjoy!




Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Chocolate Glazed Spiced Pumpkin Donuts - Low Carb & Luscious

I am excited to share my new donut recipe with you this evening, as promised. I really love pumpkin...almost as much as I love cranberries...and that's a LOT! I decided that a pumpkin donut recipe was in order to ring in the "can't get here soon enough" upcoming fall season. These donuts just scream FALL! They are moist, pumpkiny, cake-style donuts that are spiced like a pumpkin pie. I decided there was only one logical way to adorn these beauties and that was with a "not too sweet" dark chocolate, luscious glaze. Besides the fact that it's a CHOCOLATE glaze...the dark black chocolate color gives these orange colored donuts a Halloween-like color scheme. Oh, did I also mention that I absolutely love these?

Glazes are usually pretty easy to whip up...but I assure you that nothing could be easier than this one! I kept it very simple by using a different type of baking chocolate that I picked up recently at Sprouts. Guittard chocolate has been around for years (about 145 years to be exact)...but my regular grocery stores don't carry Guittard baking chocolate, only their chocolate chips. Sprouts had several different varieties of Guittard baking bars to choose from. I picked up their 70% bittersweet bars (they come with three 2-ounce bars to a box). I'm so happy I gave these a try because when they are melted, they have a much thicker and richer consistency than melting other types of dark chocolate bars I've used before, which tend to get a bit thin when melted. 

I simply broke up 2-ounce bar into a small glass custard cup and heated it in the microwave for a minute or two (you can also melt it on the stove top instead if preferred), and then spooned and drizzled the thick melted chocolate over top of my cooled donuts. I sprinkled some of the donuts with chopped pecans after glazing. The combination of the pure dark chocolate on top of the moist spiced pumpkin donuts was amazing! It was even better than I could have imagined. I may never make another traditional glaze again...certainly not another traditional chocolate glaze! Even though dark chocolate does add a tiny bit of sugar (depending on what type you use and how much)...you could also melt sugar free chocolate (like Lily's chocolate that's sweetened with stevia) if you wanted, or simply use a higher percentage cacao chocolate (like 85-90%) for very low sugar. I am not going to lie...I had 2 donuts as my lunch today! LOL Yup...they are THAT good! 

This recipe makes about one dozen donuts. To experiment a bit, I made 6 donuts and 6 muffin tops to test how they worked that way, too. My donuts took 17 minutes to bake and the muffin tops took 15 minutes to bake. If chocolate isn't your thing, you could easily whip up a delicious little sweetened cream cheese frosting (beat softened cream cheese with sweetener, to taste, along with a few splashes of heavy cream and a touch of cinnamon). That would be delicious on these, too. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. I will definitely be making these again...and soon (maybe tomorrow)...LOL. I snapped a few photos for you to see below as well as the recipe as promised. Enjoy!  







Monday, September 15, 2014

New Recipe Coming Tomorrow...Did Somebody Say Donuts?

I've been trying to post my new recipe this evening...but my new laptop is acting up tonight and everything is taking me 20 times longer to do. Rather than get more frustrated than I already am this late at night...I'm going to post this tomorrow. But, since I've done all the photography portion already, I'll post a couple quick photos for you to see tonight and finish posting the recipe and the rest of the pics tomorrow! (P.S. -- these are awesome!)  ;-)



Before going into the oven...
Shortly before taking them out of the oven

        

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Low Carb Lasagna w/ Grain-Free Noodles

Today was a fairly relaxing day. It was dark, gloomy and overcast all day long. The one good thing about that is that our high today was only 75 degrees! My sons just left around 10:00 this evening and it's already down in the low 60s and it actually feels chilly outside, especially since it was in the 90s just yesterday.

I worked on a new fall project this afternoon and then decided to make my Low Carb Lasagna using my grain-free "noodles" for dinner. If you aren't a big fan of using veggies for noodles in low carb lasagna, you will love this version. I honestly can not tell the difference. After browning my ground beef, I added the sauce and simmered it uncovered in the sauce for about 45 minutes to an hour while I worked on my other recipe project. It cooked down until it was super thick and rich without any juice at all. Besides concentrating the flavors and making the beef super tender, it ensures that my lasagna will not be watery at all whatsoever, which is a common problem with grain-free lasagnas, particularly when using zucchini as noodles. Too much sauce is your enemy when not using regular wheat type lasagna noodles which suck up the sauce as lasagna bakes. If you like more sauce, serve it alongside the finished lasagna instead of adding it into the lasagna. Also, it's important to let any kind of lasagna "rest" after baking. When the cheeses get hot and melted while baking, serving it piping hot out of the oven will certainly ensure a "landslide" on your plate as the layers go slip sliding away. So, the 2 most important tips for nice neat lasagna are..."less sauce is more" and "patience is a virtue by allowing your lasagna to rest a bit before cutting and serving."

I snapped a few photos of tonight's lasagna below. You can layer it and add whatever your favorite cheeses are as long as you don't go wild with the sauce. I used about 1-1/3 pounds of ground beef and about 32 ounces of sauce (that I cooked down and reduced by about a third). My lasagna had 3 layers of "grain-free noodles." I made 10 grain-free tortillas ("noodles") and used 3 for each of the first 2 layers and used 4 for my top and final layer of "noodles." This is how I layered mine: scant meat sauce in the bottom of my lasagna pan; 1st layer of grain-free noodles; layer of thinly sliced provolone, meat sauce, broken up fresh mozzarella; 2nd layer of noodles; layer of meat sauce, dollops of ricotta cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese; 3rd and final layer of noodles, final layer of meat sauce (mixed with 1 cup of plain sauce to spread and completely cover the top), shredded mozzarella and topped with finely grated Parmesan. You can use as much and whatever type you personally prefer. I used 1 8-ounce bag shredded mozzarella cheese, 1 15-ounce container whole milk ricotta, a little over 8 ounces of fresh sliced mozzarella, 6 thin slices provolone cheese, and about 1/3 cup of finely grated Parmesan cheese. You can use more or less depending on your personal preference. In addition to the photos below, I've added my recipe for the grain-free tortillas I used as my noodles. Enjoy!




Note how thick the meat sauce is cooked down to (bottom layer)





Top layer of meat sauce has 1 cup of extra sauce stirred in to spread on top
Topped with final layer of cheese (shredded mozzarella and Parmesan)
Baked uncovered at 325 degrees F for about 1 hour (until browned)
Topped with fresh sliced basil leaves

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sausage & Sprouts - Quick, Easy & Low Carb

Today was a scorcher here. We got up to 92 degrees and the humidity was really bad, too. Hubby had a board meeting to attend all day today so my daughter and I went to see a movie this afternoon and then did a little mall shopping afterward. Before heading home, I stopped at Costco to pick up a few things. Since it was so hot out, I wasn't in the mood to heat up the kitchen this evening so I made one of my favorite quick and easy meals...Sausage & Sprouts! As many of my regular followers know, I am obsessed with brussels sprouts. This dish is so very simple and it requires very few ingredients. 

I simply trim and halve fresh brussels sprouts and slice smoked gluten-free, nitrite/nitrate-free sausage and then usually stir-fry them on the stove. I used Aidells Chicken-Apple Smoked Sausage which is one of my favorites to combine with brussels sprouts. I decided to prepare our meal outside and use the grill as my stove instead of heating up the kitchen. I've made a few slight variations of this dish in the past. Occasionally I toss in some shredded red cabbage which not only gives it a punch of beautiful color, but some more texture, too. This evening, I added one small diced gala apple to my saute. 

I heated my 10-1/2 inch cast iron skillet on the grill over high heat and added some coconut oil and then tossed in my sliced sausage and let it brown, stirring occasionally. After about 5 minutes of browning, I tossed in my diced apple and cooked it with the sausage for a couple minutes. While the sausage was browning, I popped my sprouts into a covered glass casserole dish with a couple tablespoons of water and microwaved them on high for about 4 minutes to steam lightly to reduce the cooking time in the skillet. I drained the sprouts and added them to the browned sausage and apple and cooked and browned the sprouts and sausage mixture for a few more minutes. Normally I would have stopped there, but I decided to crack 2 eggs into the center of my sausage sprouts mixture and lightly cover with foil and cooked them until the eggs were done. I served the Sausage & Sprouts topped with fried eggs and one of my Cheddar Black Pepper Biscuits. It was delicious...hubby loved it too. Low carb meals can be as simple as you want them to be and still be delicious. I snapped a few photos for you to see below. Enjoy!











      

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Pizza - Low Carb, Grain Free & Delicious

This evening I was in the mood for pizza. I thought about waiting until tomorrow (Friday night) but decided I wanted it NOW! LOL So I mixed my quick pizza crust dough together, spread it out on my pizza pan and baked it for about 20 minutes. While it was baking, I pulled out my toppings and got them ready. This evening I decided to skip the pizza sauce and instead use my organic oven roasted roma tomatoes packed in oil that I get from Costco. If I had fresh roma tomatoes, I would have used those...but I didn't. I sliced up part of a red bell pepper and took out a bag of fresh baby spinach leaves and a package of gluten free uncured pepperoni that I found at Sprouts. I thought it looked really good...and it tasted even better! It's uncured, nitrite/nitrate free...gluten free and absolutely delicious. It's made by Fiorucci. I snapped a few photos of this evening's pizza below. I've also included the recipe for my ow carb pizza crust below as well. Enjoy!






Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tuesday's Eggplant Ricotta Bake

This evening I made Eggplant Ricotta Bake for dinner. It's one of my favorite easy ways to enjoy eggplant. It's similar to a meatless lasagna, but quicker to make. There are very few ingredients and you can layer it however you prefer. I sometimes make 3 layers of eggplant, and other times make 4 layers, depending on the casserole I make it in. This evening I made it in my 3-1/2 quart oval Le Creuset heavy casserole pan (a gift from my daughter) and used 3 layers of eggplant. You can divide the ricotta mixture into 2 or 3 layers, whichever you prefer. I snapped a quick photo for you to see below. The recipe can be found here: Eggplant Ricotta Bake. Enjoy!

Tonight's Eggplant Ricotta Bake
Here's a photo of one I made previously


Monday, September 8, 2014

Easy Taco Burgers w/ Chipotle Cheddar Cheese on Sesame Seed Buns - Simple & Low Carb

This evening I was in the mood for burgers, but I was also in the mood for tacos...so I decided to have both! I made Taco Burgers by mixing ground beef with my homemade taco seasoning, salsa and shredded sharp cheddar cheese. I topped the burgers with a new type of cheddar cheese I found at Sprouts this past weekend...Chipotle Cheddar made by Finlandia. These burgers would also be great using ground chicken, too (Chris).  :-)

I started my dinner prep by mixing up a quick batch of my Sesame Seed Buns. While the buns were baking, I made the burgers so hubby could grill them when he got home. They turned out amazing. I topped each burger with a slice of the Chipotle Cheddar Cheese and had hoped to add sliced avocado as well, but both avocados I picked up this weekend were bad inside so I skipped it. The burgers were packed with flavor and were nice and moist with the addition of salsa and cheese inside. I've made "Mexican Meatloaf" for years now using taco seasoning, but have never added into burgers and I don't know what took me so long to do so! 

When my sons were over for dinner last night, I made a batch of my Chocolate Chip Cookies and just baked 1 dozen cookies for them last night and refrigerated the remaining dough. I wanted to be able to bake small batches of fresh hot cookies as I wanted throughout the week. Since my oven was already heated to bake my Sesame Seed Buns, I went ahead and popped a small batch of 8 cookies into the oven which will last me for a few days. I love making up the dough ahead of time and just baking the cookies as I want them. 

What could be better for a Monday night dinner than burgers on BUNS and cookies...it's a low carb lovers delight! I snapped a few photos below and included my easy peasy burger recipe. Enjoy!




Sunday, September 7, 2014

Chipotle Cheddar Crackers - Low Carb, Grain & Gluten-Free

I love to eat crackers as a simple, quick and easy snack. They are easy to toss into a little baggie and take them with you on the go. One of the things many of us grain-free people miss oftentimes are simple, crunchy little snacks. I love these with cheese and they are also great dipped into hummus or guacamole, etc. These crackers are tasty enough to eat simply "as is" too. Once you make grain-free crackers, you realize that there's really not much to it and the ways you can season them and change them up is endless. I love them served alongside my Fire Roasted Tomato Cheddar Chowder...it's just as tasty as having grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup (well, almost). LOL These would make great snack crackers to put out during football games, holiday get togethers, etc. Check out a few of my photos as well as the recipe for the crackers below. Enjoy!