Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Grilled Steak w/ Garlic Herb Butter & Easy Coleslaw - Quick & Easy Low Carb

This evening I grilled the last few steaks that I picked up from Costco this weekend (Beef Loin Top Sirloin Cap Steak) that I used over the weekend to make beef kabobs with. I marinated the beef when I made the kabobs, but wanted to see how these steaks would be without marinating. I was very pleasantly surprised. Not only were they flavorful, but they were super tender as well. 

I kept the preparation of these steaks very simple. I seasoned both sides with McCormick's Grill Mates Spicy Montreal Steak Seasoning and then grilled them for 4 minutes per side on a hot grill. To serve them, I placed a pat of Kerrygold's Garlic & Herb Butter on top to melt and flavor them. Who needs steak sauce when there's Kerrygold Garlic & Herb Butter? They were absolutely amazing! The steaks had the tenderness and texture of a filet mignon steak. I couldn't tell the difference (except for the shape of the steak). We thoroughly enjoyed these and I will most definitely be purchasing these again. Before grilling the steaks, I made my Easy Coleslaw to go with our meal which only takes about 5 minutes to toss together with just a few simple ingredients. It took me about 5 minutes to prep the coleslaw and 10 minutes to prep and cook the steaks. How is THAT for quick and easy peasy? I snapped a couple photos below. Enjoy!


Grilled Steak w/ Garlic & Herb Butter 

          

Monday, June 29, 2015

Oven Roasted Copper River Salmon w/ Clementine Chipotle Butter

This evening I prepared one of my favorites, wild Copper River Salmon. I picked some up this past weekend. I kept it fairly simple by oven roasting it. I prepared a large fillet that was almost 1-1/4 pounds and only about 1/2-inch thick, so I reduced the roasting time by a couple of minutes . It only took 10 minutes to roast and about 5 minutes to sit covered which was just enough time to allow me to wash and cut up our salad fixings.

I wanted to prepare it a little bit different without masking the delicate flavor of the salmon. Since I am on a "clementine" kick here recently and we just happened to have some beautiful ripe and juicy clementines, I went with a very simple Clementine Chipotle Butter Glaze to brush on the salmon both before roasting as well as afterward. It turned out amazing. I served the salmon on top of big fresh salads made with fresh baby romaine lettuce and a variety of colorful baby tomatoes. I drizzled a bit of vinaigrette on my salad. I snapped a couple photos below and included the easy peasy recipe as well. Enjoy!

P.S. - Scroll down for some VERY exciting news. Gourmet Girl Cooks is ALASKA BOUND!








Oven Roasted Copper River Salmon w/ Clementine Chipotle Butter

Ingredients:

1 1/4 pounds salmon fillets, preferably wild
3 tablespoons butter
Zest from 1 clementine (or other small tangerine type orange)
Juice of 1 clementine (about 2 to 3 tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (I used pink Himalayan salt)
1/4 teaspoon ground Chipotle pepper
Sweetener equivalent to 1 teaspoon sugar (I used 1 teaspoon Swerve)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place salmon fillet on a foil lined baking sheet.

In a small skillet, melt butter; add zest, juice, salt, chipotle and sweetener. Simmer on low for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Spoon half of butter mixture over salmon fillet and brush evenly over the salmon (being careful not to contaminate the remaining butter with anything that had contact with the raw fillet).

Place salmon in preheated oven; immediately reduce heat to 425 degrees F. Roast for 10 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness of fillet. Remove and immediately cover with foil. Let sit about 5 minutes. Spoon remaining butter over top of cooked fillet.


         

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Grilled Beef Kabobs - Chipotle Citrus Marinated

It was a gorgeous day here today. I dare to say that it was actually cool most of the morning (60s). I decided to take advantage of this gorgeous weather and prepare something for us to grill for dinner. While hubby was out cutting grass this afternoon, I began prepping dinner. I decided to make kabobs (or kebabs as some of us call them). I decided rather than make my usual marinade of lemon, olive oil, garlic, rosemary, etc., to make these a bit different.

When we went to Costco yesterday, I picked up a package of beef that I look at every single week when we go. The only reason I never got it before is because I'm not familiar with that cut. It's called Beef Loin Top Sirloin Cap Steak (sometimes known as Coulotte Steak). It's cut in long narrow pieces, very similar to the boneless beef chuck short ribs I buy at Costco (except these are much more lean). They always look like beautiful pieces of meat...so yesterday, I finally picked up a package. I decided to use these to make my kabobs with. I simply cut each piece into 5 chunks. I used about 2 pounds from the 3+ pound package I bought. While at Costco, we also picked up a bag of limes and a bag of clementines. I thought that I would incorporate both the limes and the clementines into my kabob marinade. I made a Chipotle Citrus Marinade that was a blend of freshly squeezed clementine juice (these were super juicy and ripe), fresh lime juice, both lime and clementine zest, minced garlic, Tamari sauce, chipotle chile powder, avocado oil and a touch of sweetener to bring out the citrus flavor. I whisked it all together and then dumped it into a large Ziploc bag along with the beef chunks, and popped it into the fridge to marinate all afternoon until dinner time, I threaded them on skewers right before grilling. I also cut up some colorful bell peppers and onions to skewer and grill alongside the beef.

While it always looks gorgeous to see the kabobs alternated on the same skewer with meat and colorful veggies, the truth is that the meat and veggies usually cook at different times and sometimes your veggies are overcooked by the time your meat is done and other times if you are grilling something that doesn't take as much time to cook like chicken or shrimp, your veggies don't get cooked enough...so I generally sacrifice beauty for perfectly cooked instead! The marinade was good; the meat was nice and tender with a delicate orange and chipotle flavor. I fixed the guys jasmine rice to go along with their kabobs and I enjoyed mine as is. I would definitely buy this cut of meat again. I am going to try grilling it as steaks later this week. I snapped a few photos below and included the easy peasy recipe, too. Enjoy!





Clementines and limes...sweet and tart
Let the marinating begin...

Fresh off the grill

Grilled Chipotle Citrus Marinated Beef Kabobs

Ingredients:

2 pounds beef sirloin, cut into 1-inch cubes
Zest of 1 lime
Zest of 1 clementine (or other small orange)
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
Juice of 2 clementines (about 1/3 cup)
1/2 cup of olive oil or avocado oil
2 to 3 tablespoons organic gluten free Tamari sauce
1 large clove minced garlic
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon ground Chipotle chile powder
Sweetener equivalent to 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar, optional (I used 1 rounded tablespoon Swerve)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a gallon size Ziploc type bag. Marinate in refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Thread on metal skewers or bamboo skewers that have been soaked in water for approximately 30 minutes. Place on hot grill and cook approximately 8 to 10 minutes or to desired doneness, turning periodically to cook all sides evenly. If desired, thread veggies such as bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, etc. on skewers and grill alongside meat.

            

Tomato, Cheddar & Onion Omelet

Happy Sunday! This morning hubby and I got up early to take our walk. It was an absolutely gorgeous morning here. It was only 64 degrees, bright and sunny and the humidity was significantly lower than it has been. It was one of those rare "top 10" June mornings with clear blue skies and wispy white clouds. When we got back from our walk, I whipped up a quick tomato, cheddar and onion omelet. I simply halved a handful of baby red yellow, orange and green tomatoes, sliced a green spring onion and sauteed them in a bit of olive oil just until softened. I made omelets and added some shredded sharp cheddar cheese and the sauteed tomato and onion and it was a delicious "summery" Sunday breakfast. It also happened to be low carb. I snapped a quick photo below. Enjoy!


Friday, June 26, 2015

Chinese Pepper Steak - Low Carb Stir-Fry

This evening I made a quick and easy Chinese Pepper Steak stir-fry. I saved a step by picking up a package of top round steak that was already cut into strips for stir-fry instead of cutting up my own. You could also use sirloin steak or your own favorite cut of beef. I picked up a red, yellow and orange bell pepper and some green spring onions to go into my Pepper Steak. I made a delicious sauce by simply using some chicken stock, cashew butter, garlic, ginger, Tamari sauce, sweetener and some hot red pepper flakes. The combination of flavors gave it a garlicky, salty, sweet, spicy flavor that I love in my Pepper Steak and I only made enough sauce to coat the beef and peppers, not enough to swim in. If you like lots of sauce, just double the sauce recipe. The only thing I forgot to pick up was fresh ginger, so I improvised and used ground ginger instead. It worked nicely. We enjoyed it "as is" without making cauli-rice for me or regular rice for hubby. It was so flavorful that we didn't need any rice. I snapped a quick photo as well as included my easy peasy recipe. Hubby and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Enjoy!



Pepper Steak - Low Carb Stir-Fry

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
1 1/4 pounds top round steak, cut into 1/4-inch strips 
2 cloves minced garlic
2 bell peppers, cut into strips (red, green, yellow, or orange)
2 green spring onions, sliced
1 rounded tablespoon cashew butter
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons Swerve sweetener (or preferred sweetener equivalent to 2 tablespoons sugar)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (or 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger)
3 tablespoons organic gluten free Tamari sauce
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional

Directions:

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a 12-inch wok or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add beef strips and cook, stirring frequently until browned and cooked through. Add minced garlic and stir-fry another minute. Transfer cooked beef to a bowl and set aside. Add remaining tablespoon of coconut oil; add peppers and stir fry for 3 to 4 minutes until tender crisp; stir in green onions and cook another minute. Transfer cooked peppers to the bowl with beef. 

Reduce heat and add cashew butter and broth to wok, stirring until blended. Add sweetener, ginger and Tamari sauce. Cook until bubbly and thickened. Return beef and pepper mixture along with any juices to the wok; season with red pepper flakes. Stir until coated with sauce and heated through. Serve over steamed riced cauliflower or rice, if desired. 

*Note: If a thinner sauce is desired, add an additional 1/4 cup chicken broth to the sauce. 

         

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Glazed Blueberry Breakfast Rolls - Low Carb & No Sugar Added

Today I'm happy to be doing another guest post for Honeyville. The recipe I'm sharing is for Glazed Blueberry Breakfast Rolls made with their blanched almond flour (my favorite grain/gluten free flour to bake with).

This recipe was inspired by one of my followers who was looking to recreate a healthier version of one of her "old favorites"...Bojangles Bo-Berry Biscuits. Now, I will admit that I have never actually had one of them before, but I did do a little research on them and she also sent me a copy of a conventional recipe for them as well (as in it was not grain free or no sugar added). So, I set out to make a grain free recipe for Glazed Blueberry Breakfast Rolls modeled after the Bo-Berry Biscuits.

These turned out amazing! They are topped with a vanilla glaze that can be used as either a fluffy vanilla frosting when chilled or a luscious vanilla glaze when warmed or spread over one of these warm sweet rolls. I tested them using frozen organic wild blueberries as well as dried blueberries. I prefer to glaze these as I eat them (one at a time) and not all at once. I simply pop one into the microwave for just a few seconds (not more than 10 seconds) and then spread with the glaze mixture as it melts and runs down the sides. If you were serving them to a group, I would warm the glaze and then top them all at once instead. I hope you love these as much as I do. If you wanted to, you could toss in a couple diced strawberries swapped for half of the blueberries. With the white vanilla glaze, red strawberries and blueberries, you would have the perfect "Independence Day/4th of July" breakfast treat! I really enjoyed these and found them to be a cross between a buttermilk biscuit and a sweet roll...you know, sort of a "biscuit-like sweet roll." Check out a few photos below. To get the recipe, please click here: Blueberry Breakfast Rolls. Enjoy!



Scoop
Pat and smooth with dampened fingertips
Before baking
After baking



            

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Chocolate Chip No-Flip Pancakes w/ Wild Blueberry Butter Syrup - Low Carb

This evening I wasn't too hungry since I had a leftover Bacon Cheddar Burger and coleslaw for lunch. Hubby had a later than usual lunch, so I decided to make one of my No-Flip Pancakes for dinner. I decided to make a Chocolate Chip & Walnut No-Flip Pancake instead of my usual berry version. Since I wasn't adding berries to the pancake, I decided to incorporate some organic wild frozen blueberries into the topping for them. I heated up a mixture of sugar free pancake syrup, butter, wild blueberries and sweetener, to taste. I let it simmer in a small skillet until bubbly and thick. It was awesome on top of the pancakes. I snapped a few photos and included the recipe for the pancake and the blueberry syrup below. The syrup recipe makes enough to top approximately 3 servings (or half of the skillet pancake). Double the syrup recipe for 6 servings. Enjoy!






Chocolate Chip Walnut No-Flip Pancakes
(Thick & Fluffy Version)

Ingredients:

1 cup blanched almond flour
1/4 cup ground golden flaxseed
2 tablespoons coconut flour
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon Swerve Sweetener, divided (or other granular sweetener)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted and cooled (plus a little extra to grease skillet)
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (70-85% cacao or Lily's sugar free chips)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

For the Wild Blueberry Butter Syrup:

2 Tablespoons sugar free maple pancake syrup (I use Nature's Hollow)**
2 to 3 Tablespoons Butter
1/4 cup organic frozen wild blueberries
Sweetener, to taste (stevia, Swerve, or favorite sweetener)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl, combine almond flour, flax, coconut flour, 1/4 cup sweetener, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; whisk to combine and break up any lumps.

In a separate small bowl, beat buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla. Stir wet mixture into dry mixture; stir in coconut oil, chocolate chips, and walnuts, just until combined.

Heat a 10-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium high heat until hot. Spray or brush pan with coconut oil. Pour pancake batter into hot skillet. Cook on stove top for about 2 minutes. Place skillet into preheated oven and bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until pancake is cooked in the center and doesn't jiggle when gently shaking the skillet. Let cool in pan for approximately 5 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to gently loosen and slide onto cutting board. Cut into wedges and serve topped with sugar free maple syrup or optional Wild Blueberry Butter Syrup, if desired.

To make Wild Blueberry Syrup, heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add syrup, butter, blueberries and sweetener and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 5 minutes.

**WARNING: Many sugar free syrups contain xylitol. It is deadly to pets -- do NOT share any foods containing xylitol with your pets. Also be careful when using any granular type xylitol sweetener (Swerve does not contain any xylitol).

              

Monday, June 22, 2015

BEST EVER Bacon Cheddar Burgers - Low Carb

Today was an extremely hot and sweltering day here. It's pretty obvious that summer has arrived, and with a vengeance, at that!  As I was driving home from work, I was thinking about what to fix for dinner. I was in the mood for burgers but thought it might be too hot for hubby to stand outside and grill them in this nasty heat since we haven't acclimated to the abrupt hot temps yet. So, I decided to go ahead and make burgers, but cook them inside instead. I was in the mood for a super delicious burger. I thought about making traditional bacon cheeseburgers...you know, plain burgers topped with a slice of cheese and a few strips of bacon. Instead, I decided to make a "package deal" burger. I decided to mix everything all up together. The result was absolutely AMAZING...both the flavor and the moistness of these burgers. I actually prefer them this way to the traditional version with the bacon and cheese on top.

I whipped up a batch of my delicious Sesame Seed Sandwich Buns and a batch of my Easy Coleslaw and then began working on the burgers while the buns were in the oven. I cooked 6 strips of bacon in a large nonstick skillet until crisp and reserved the bacon drippings to cook the burgers in. I simply crumbled up the crisp bacon and then combined all the flavors of what I think make the perfect bacon cheeseburger; ground beef, crumbled bacon, a squirt of ketchup, a squirt of mustard, sliced green onions, extra sharp shredded cheddar cheese, and freshly ground black pepper. Then, to push it over the edge, I cooked the burgers in the leftover bacon drippings (talk about FLAVOR). I served these moist and flavorful burgers on a sesame seed bun topped with sliced tomatoes and pickles. These were honestly the best Bacon Cheddar Burgers ever! I snapped a few photos below as well as included my easy peasy recipe. Enjoy!






Bacon Cheddar Burgers

Ingredients:

1 1/4 pounds lean ground beef
6 strips crisply cooked bacon, crumbled (reserve bacon drippings to cook burgers)
1/2 cup (heaping) sharp cheddar cheese
1 or 2 green spring onions, sliced
1 rounded tablespoon "no HFCS ketchup
1 rounded tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil (more, if desired)
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients, just until combined. Divide meat mixture into 4 equal sized pieces and shape into patties, about 1-inch thick.

Heat reserved bacon drippings (or olive oil) in a large 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium high heat; add burger patties. Cook approximately 6 minutes per side, or to desired doneness.  

     

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all Dad's out there!

Hubby and I got up early this morning and took a long walk. While we were walking, I couldn't help but think about my Dad and how much I missed him. As the years have gone by, I have gotten used to not having him here, but I have never gotten over it and I don't believe I ever will. I actually find that I miss him more. Occasionally, I am blessed to have dreams where he is still here that feel so real, only to awake to the sadness he is not and then it feels like I've lost him all over again. I was my Daddy's daughter, there was no question about it. I "got him" and he "got me"...we were 2 peas in a pod. I was and still am so proud to have been his daughter. Happy Father's Day Dad, I love you. Until we meet again...




Saturday, June 20, 2015

Blueberry Chia Smoothie - A Refreshing Antioxidant Boost

Happy Saturday! This morning hubby and I got up early to walk before it got hot. It was only 75 degrees, but the humidity was 89% so it was still quite sweltering. When we got done, I just wasn't in the mood for a hot breakfast, so I thought I'd just have some Greek yogurt along with some fresh blueberries. Now, I am normally not a big smoothie type of person because I'd much rather "eat" my food...but as I reached for the big container of Fage Greek yogurt and blueberries, my eye caught the carton of unsweetened Silk cashew milk beside it. I decided that in addition to the enormous amounts of water I had already consumed to rehydrate myself, that maybe this morning, drinking my breakfast might be a good idea. All I can say is....it was JUST what I needed and very satisfying, too. My smoothie consisted of unsweetened cashew milk, Greek yogurt, fresh blueberries, chia seeds, a bit of stevia and ice. I loved it. I snapped a quick photo as well as my easy peasy recipe. I used my Vitamix which has a pre-timed smoothie setting to blend everything, so if you don't have as powerful of a blender, you may want to use crushed ice instead of ice cubes so you don't damage your machine. Enjoy!



Blueberry Chia Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups unsweetened cashew milk
1/2 cup fresh blueberries (you can use frozen or other berries)
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 Tablespoon chia seeds
Stevia, to taste
1 cup ice cubes (or crushed ice)

Directions:

Add all ingredients to blender container and blend at high speed until thickened, combined and frothy.

        

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Greek Style Spinach-Feta Pie w/ Bacon - Low Carb

This evening I was in the mood for my Greek Style Spinach-Feta Pie. I had all the ingredients on hand. I decided to add in some crumbled cooked bacon to switch it up a bit. It turned out amazing. I have several different versions of this pie. My favorite is my original version with crust. I also have a more quiche-like version that doesn't include any almond flour. My second favorite version is my "Impossible Pie" version that makes its own crust (much like the old Bisquick Impossible Pies). It's a bit quicker to make when you aren't in the mood to make the crust (although if you have a few extra minutes, the crust version is awesome). My favorite thing about making this dish is that it provides me with a quick and delicious lunch for several days afterward. I have eaten this pie for breakfast, lunch and dinner...and for all 3 meals in one day, believe it or not. It reminds me of one of my old favorites, Spanakopita. I included my recipe below (with the optional bacon added). I snapped a few photos below. Enjoy!


Crust is ready for the oven
Filling is poured into the partially baked crust and ready to bake.
Fresh out of the oven.





Greek Style Spinach-Feta Pie

Ingredients:


Crust:

2 cups almond flour
3 tablespoons cold butter, diced into small cubes
1 egg
1 teaspoon Greek Seasoning (or 1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning), optional 

Filling:

10 oz. fresh spinach (up to 16 oz), cooked, squeezed dry and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup diced onion (or 3 sliced green spring onions)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried dill (or 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh dill)
1 to 2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
5 large eggs (or 1-1/4 cups Egg Beaters)
1/2 cup half-and-half, cream or milk
4 strips of crumbled cooked bacon, optional

Directions:


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Place all crust ingredients in a medium bowl.  Cut butter and egg into flour with a pastry cutter until mixture resembles small pebbles and the flour is thoroughly moistened (the same way you prepare a pie crust).  Press crust mixture into a 9.5 or 10" pie dish or tart pan using your hands and fingertips. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until lightly browned; remove from oven and set aside.

Increase oven temp to 350 degrees F.  In a non-stick skillet, saute onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent; remove and set aside.  In the same skillet, saute spinach, just until wilted.  Drain and squeeze out as much liquid as possible (I use a mesh strainer and press it with the back of a large spoon). Coarsely chop spinach.


Place drained and chopped spinach in a medium bowl; add cooked onions and garlic, feta, dill, lemon zest, pepper, eggs and half-and-half. Stir in optional bacon; mix until well combined. Pour mixture into lightly baked crust and bake at 350 F for 20 minutes; lower oven temp to 325 F (to prevent edge of crust from over browning); bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until filling and eggs are set and cooked. If the center still seems a little jiggly, cook an additional few minutes. If edges of crust begin browning too quickly, loosely cover pie with foil near the latter part of cook time.

            

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Roasted Copper River Salmon & Dijon Cream Sauce with Dill

Today was another hot day here; we got up to 94 degrees. I wanted to make something fairly quick and simple for dinner. I debated about whether or not to turn the oven on. I decided to go ahead and turn it on to roast the fresh Copper River Red Salmon I had in the fridge because it only roasts for 12 minutes and then it gets removed and covered to sit and complete the cooking outside of the oven.

To roast the salmon, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.  Line a baking pan or sheet with aluminum foil (for easy clean up). Place your salmon fillets skin side down and brush with olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Place in the preheated oven and immediately reduce heat to 425 degrees F and bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cover with foil and allow to sit to complete cooking. If you prefer your salmon slightly rare in the center, cover for only 2 to 3 minutes. If you prefer it cooked through, cover it for approximately 8 to 10 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of your fillets. I cooked 2 large fillets (a little over 2-1/2 pounds). The cooking time is the same regardless of whether you cook only 1 portion or a larger portion like I did. I intentionally made extra.

What makes this roasted salmon dish even more special and elegant is the super easy Dijon Cream Sauce w/ Dill that only takes about 5 minutes to make. You won't believe how simple it is to make and it uses simple ingredients found anywhere. If you don't have fresh dill available, substitute dried dill weed (and use half the amount because it's more intense than fresh). I use cream as the liquid part of this sauce but you can use half and half, milk or even a milk alternative if that's what you have on hand. I actually experimented a bit tonight and used half cream and half unsweetened cashew milk to see if I could tell a difference, and I couldn't. I snapped a quick photo of this beautiful and simple meal. We had steamed organic broccoli with our salmon. This sauce would also be great on top of steamed broccoli, too, if you like. The recipe for my easy peasy Dijon Cream Sauce w/ Dill is below. Enjoy!



Dijon Cream Sauce with Dill

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1/2 cup cream or half-and-half (plus extra to thin sauce as necessary)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (I used coarsely ground)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder, or to taste
1 to 2 teaspoons fresh dill, chopped (or half the amount if using dried)

Directions:

Melt butter over low heat in a small saucepan. Add cream cheese and whisk until melted, whisking vigorously until blended smooth. Stir in cream, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper and whisk until blended. Heat just until sauce begins to simmer (careful not to boil). Whisk in dry mustard until blended. Stir in dill. If necessary, add additional cream to thin sauce to desired consistency. Serve over chicken or fish.  

*Note: Don't worry if it appears like your cream cheese has separated or curdled as it melts into the butter; it hasn't. Simply whisk vigorously until it pulls together with the butter and becomes smooth before adding the cream and other ingredients.


 USA Pans

Monday, June 15, 2015

Kung Pao Style Chicken & Veggie Stir-Fry - Low Carb, Fresh & Delicious

This evening I made Kung Pao Style Chicken & Veggie Stir-Fry. It was filled with diced chicken breast, broccoli, red bell pepper, carrots, mushrooms, green onions...and peanuts, of course! It was all made in my wok except for the 2 to 3 minutes where I had a little help from my microwave to lightly steam my broccoli florets to quicken the cooking time (but it can all be done in the wok if you choose). I used to make cauli-rice to serve my stir-fry meals over, but the longer I'm low carb, the less I am inclined to make substitute rice because I love it "as is".  You can add in your favorite veggies. The secret to my awesome stir-fry meals is actually the sauce recipe that I created without the use of cornstarch. I snapped a quick photo below of our meal below. You can find the recipe for it here: Chicken Stir-Fry. Enjoy!


        

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Low Carb Pasta Night - Always a Sunday Night Favorite

Today was a scorcher here. I believe we made it to our high of 93 degrees. Even though hubby and I got up and walked before 9:00 this morning, it was still miserable by the time we finished a little after 10:00. So miserable that I actually made myself a refreshing smoothie when we finished. I put almond butter, berries, chia seeds, unsweetened cashew milk, etc. in it and it was just what I needed. Looks like the 90s are here for the remainder of the week. All I can say is YUCK!

This evening we had "pasta" for dinner. I used yellow summer squash as the pasta for mine. Since I was only making the low carb pasta for myself, I used my julienne peeler to make my own little portion for one. The guys had brown rice spaghetti for theirs. I kept our meal simple and took advantage of one of the many good jarred sauces out there made with all natural ingredients and no added sugar. I used DelGrosso's Fireworks Sauce (it's spicy), but I doctored it quite a bit by adding all kinds of goodies. I browned 1-1/4 pounds of ground beef, diced Vidalia onion, diced yellow summer squash, diced small eggplant, one sliced small carrot, 1-1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms, and then pre-cooked all my add-ins, then added the sauce and simmered it with the lid slightly ajar for about 30 minutes to thicken the sauce (you don't want watery sauce with veggie noodles). We had side salads to go along with our pasta. Using a jarred sauce without any junk and sugars added allows you to make a homemade meal with a little bit of help; there are a number of good sauces on the market, you just need to check the labels. I snapped a photo below. If you've never made zoodles or squoodles (LOL) before, here's a link to a little tutorial I did that shows you how to avoid watery zoodles: How to Make Non-Watery Zoodles. The exact same application applies to making yellow summer squash noodles, too. Enjoy!


         

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Lemon Chia Frozen Yogurt Pops - A Little Chat About Stevia

Well, the heat has finally arrived in the Atlanta area...we have officially hit 90. Yuck! The first thing I thought about with our impending heat wave was making a frozen treat to enjoy. Earlier in the spring, Costco had these super cute little pop molds. They had 2 boxes of 6 each packaged together; 6 "rocket" pop molds and 6 "sailboat" pop molds. Today I decided to break in the rocket molds (I actually made them last night to freeze overnight). If you have young kids, these molds are especially cute. For one, they aren't too big. I have a set of pop molds that are nice, but quite large and sometimes I just want a little frozen treat, not a meal! Anyway, these are smaller (probably hold around 1/3 cup or so) and the pop mold stick has a little spaceman that gets inserted into the pop so when you get to the stick, voila...a little red space man is there to greet you. The handle of the pop stick is actually the "flame afterburner" like when it's taking off. They are just cute and fun. By the way, if you belong to Costco, they have these on sale now. I paid $13.99 for a double package (12 pops total) and they were on sale now for only $9.99.

I decided to keep these pops simple. I thought about pulling out my Vitamix and whipping up something different or unusual, but decided that most of us just want to keep things as simple as possible, particularly in the summer...so I kept it simple. I made Lemon Chia Frozen Yogurt Pops. I literally only used my 2-cup glass measuring cup as both the measuring cup and the "bowl" along with a rubber spatula to fold things in as well as measuring spoons and a zester to make the lemon zest. Not much to clean up afterward. Now, I still may whip up something special another time...but for now, keeping it simple just seemed right. Below are a few photos as well as my easy peasy recipe.

You will notice that the recipe lists "sweetener to taste" because it really varies so much depending on what type of sweetener you use and since this isn't a baked good where you need a specific type for bulk and texture, you can really use any sweetener. If you want to use a dry sweetener, I would recommend using powdered (like Swerve confectioners) instead of granular. Granular erythritol based sweeteners (such as Swerve, Truvia or plain erythritol) can sometimes feel a bit gritty textured when used in recipes that are chilled or frozen, so powdered works better if you want to keep it smooth and creamy textured. Granular sweeteners can be powdered by grinding in a small blender (just make sure to let the dust settle before opening your blender container).

I used stevia to sweeten this batch of frozen yogurt pops. Stevia is such a unique sweetener because it varies so much from brand to brand and between liquid and powdered versions. Some liquid versions are pure stevia, some have food grade glycerin added, and some have alcohol added. Powdered versions can be pure or have fillers added like dextrose (which is glucose/sugar), so it's important to read labels. Some stevia is blended with other sugar alcohols such as erythritol (like Truva, for example). I have lots of different brands and types of stevia; more than any human should have...LOL. I used NuStevia simple syrup this time, but you can use whatever you have available and whatever happens to be your personal favorite. A number of bloggers have rated stevia at one time or another and will tell you that "this one is best" based on their own personal taste tests...but truthfully (and unfortunately), it doesn't really work that way with stevia. What one person thinks is awesome, another person thinks is awful. Stevia is a very personal choice and there is a fine line between sweet and bitter if you use too much of any kind of stevia. There are certain types and brands that I prefer more than others, but none that I am totally over the moon about at this moment. Simply find one that you like or can tolerate and if you keep using it, you find that "sweet spot" of how much to use and you eventually get used to it. Now, like with most anything, there are always exceptions though. I've known folks that just plain do not like stevia of any kind or brand. If you happen to be one of those folks that no matter what kind of stevia you try, it tastes bitter, you may just be what is considered a "super taster" which is someone who has more taste buds than some of us do, and therefore are more sensitive to sweet, bitter, salty, etc. No worries though, because any type of sweetener will work for frozen yogurt; just use what you like best. I snapped a few photos and included the easy recipe below. Enjoy!





What kid wouldn't love to find a spaceman in their rocket pop?

Lemon Chia Frozen Yogurt Pops

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt (I used Fage 2%)
1/2 cup heavy cream or canned coconut milk
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon chia seeds
Sweetener of choice, to taste (I used NuStevia simple syrup)

Directions:

Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Add and adjust sweetner, to taste. Note that the level of sweetness tends to decrease when frozen, so slightly over sweeten and make them a little sweeter than you think they should be. Fill 6 pop molds and freeze until solid. Freeze any remaining excess yogurt in small dixie type cups for an extra little treat to scoop and eat. To remove from molds, simply run warm water from the sink over the outside of the molds until they just begin to loosen. Remove and enjoy!

*Note: If using narrow molds with intricate designs or grooves, a less messy way to fill molds is to scoop thick yogurt mixture into a large Ziploc type bag (or piping bag), cut the corner, squeeze and fill. Tap molds on counter or other flat surface several times to release any air bubbles or pockets so all cracks and crevices are filled. Leave about 1/4" space at top of molds so they don't overflow when inserting pop sticks.