Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Chipotle Cheddar Crackers - Are You Ready for Some Football?

Since football season is upon us now and fall is just around the corner...as in tomorrow, I decided this would be a great time to give you an awesome snack idea to prepare and these Chipotle Cheddar Crackers are low carb, grain and gluten free and make the perfect snack to enjoy along with friends and family while watching your favorite team play. Or if you are like me and could care less about football (sorry football fans), these crackers are also great alongside a bowl of soup, chili or cheese and crackers or dip...you name it. They are also incredibly good as is! The ways you can season them and change them up are endless. I love them served alongside my Fire Roasted Tomato Cheddar Chowder...it's like having grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup (well, almost). These are great snack crackers to put out during football games, holiday get-togethers, etc. Check out a few of my photos below as well as the recipe for the crackers below. Enjoy!







Chipotle Cheddar Crackers

Ingredients:

·        1/4 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
·        1-1/2 cups almond flour or meal
·        2 tablespoons ground golden flaxseeds
·        2 tablespoons sesame seeds
·        1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
·        1/4 teaspoon onion powder
·        1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder, to taste
·        1 large egg
·        1 tablespoon olive oil
·        1/4 teaspoon sea salt, optional

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Place cheddar cheese and almond flour in a medium bowl. Using a pastry/dough blender, cut cheddar into flour mixture until finely chopped and evenly incorporated; stir in flax, sesame seeds, garlic powder, onion powder, and ground chipotle chile powder.

In a separate small bowl, whisk egg and olive oil until combined; pour into dry mixture. Combine mixture using a rubber spatula into a stiff dense dough; knead a couple times in the bowl with the heel of your hand to thoroughly combine and moisten all ingredients.

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit your baking sheet pan and place parchment on counter or workspace. Place dough in center and press down evenly with your hands to about 1-inch thick. Place another sheet of parchment on top of dough. Roll dough out between sheets of parchment to about 1/8-inch thick. Remove top sheet of parchment; transfer bottom parchment to baking pan. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutting wheel, cut into 1-inch squares, or desired size. Lightly sprinkle with sea salt, if desired.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until light golden brown, checking frequently. If crackers on outer edge begin browning more quickly, carefully remove those and transfer to a plate or rack. When crackers are done, remove from oven and leave on parchment paper until cool. Separate crackers and enjoy. Store cooled crackers in an air tight container.

Note: The ground golden flaxseeds and sesame seeds are added to give the crackers a slightly “grainy” texture. If you prefer not to use them, just substitute additional almond flour or meal in their place. The chipotle chile powder adds a smoky/spicy flavor. If you do not have chipotle chile powder, you can easily substitute regular chili powder (to taste) or use milder and sweeter ancho chili powder.

Serving Suggestion: These crackers are delicious to eat “as is” or topped with your favorite cheese. They are also great used as a dip cracker to scoop up hummus that’s been lightly dusted with smoked paprika, chopped fresh parsley and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. 

           

Monday, September 18, 2017

Happy National Cheeseburger Day - on Grain Free Sesame Seed Buns

Happy National Cheeseburger Day! Hah...who comes up with these things? Obviously this is one celebration that Hallmark doesn't corner the market on. Today I'm re-sharing one of my favorite cheeseburgers of all time "Cheeseburgers in Paradise" served on my delicious grain free Sesame Seed Buns. I don't mind eating a burger without a bun...I've gotten used to it; but sometimes, you just WANT a bun on your burger! These buns are also delicious to make a sandwich with. If you haven't tried them before...these are a must try. They are the closest to real bread as I have come in over 5 years that I've been wheat free. Check out this beautiful burger below and to get to the link on the recipe for the buns...click here: Sesame Seed Buns. Enjoy!





         



Saturday, September 16, 2017

Pizza for Breakfast - How to Use Leftover Pizza

Happy Saturday!  It's a beautiful sunny morning here. When I woke up this morning I thought about having a piece of last night's cold leftover Roasted Tomato & Shallot Pizza for breakfast. Instead, I decided to "breakfast-tize" it a bit! I placed a piece of pizza in a small nonstick skillet, covered it and heated it over low heat until it was warmed through and the crust was nice and toasty. In a separate skillet I fried an egg in a little butter. I used the pizza as my "toast" and topped it with the fried egg. It was so delicious together and the flavors were as if I was eating a delicious roasted tomato omelet over toast. I loved it and will save a piece to make again for breakfast tomorrow too! Next time you have leftover pizza, give it a try. I can't wait to make it again!  Now, off to put our furniture back out on our screened porch after Irma blew through earlier this week! Enjoy!



          

Friday, September 15, 2017

Cheese Head Pizza Topped w/ Roasted Tomatoes, Shallots, & Pepperoni

This evening I made the BEST pizza ever. I know I've said that a lot, but this evening's pizza knocked it out of the park! We needed something to cheer up an otherwise gloomy week after Hurricane Irma came through Atlanta. I know many folks had it so much worse than we did, so I'm so thankful we had no serious damage...just lots of limbs down and a big mess in our yard; we lost power for a day and night and had no cable, internet or phone for 2+ days. We also lost some food in our 3 refrigerators but thankfully our frozen stuff stayed frozen! I did NOT want to have to throw out all the wild salmon I had frozen and stashed for the winter! LOL!

This pizza, as silly as it sounds just brightened up our week with all the colors and delicious flavor. I haven't done much cooking this week with everything that went on. So, tonight when I got home, I decided it was time for a comfort Friday night meal. I had a large 2 pound container of multicolored tomatoes; red, green, yellow, orange, maroon, etc. I halved about half of them (about 1 pound) and tossed them with olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and pepper, then spread them out on a parchment lined baking sheet and roasted them at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. After they had roasted for about 10 minutes, I added 2 thinly sliced large shallots that I tossed in olive oil and spread them out with the tomatoes to roast along with them. I diced some pepperoni and sautéed it in a small skillet on the stove to begin crisping it and rendering off some of the excess fat (I don't care for greasy pizza). Rather than use traditional pizza sauce like I usually do, I spread my freshly baked Cheese Head Pizza Crust with half of a jar (about 3 ounces) of Mezzetta's Sun Dried Tomato Pesto, then topped it with shredded mozzarella cheese, then the roasted tomatoes and shallots, then scattered the pepperoni on top and popped it back into the oven for about 7 to 8 minutes. The flavors were unbelievable. There is just something about roasting vegetables that brings out their deep intense flavor. The shallots crisped like mini onion rings. Hubby who had initially turned his nose up when he found out I added shallots (he hates onions so I convinced him these technically were not onions), ended up loving it and saying it was one of my best pizzas ever! I snapped some photos below and included the easy peasy recipe for my Cheese Head Pizza Crust. If you haven't made it yet...what are you waiting for? Try it...you are going to like LOVE it!  Enjoy!




Topped and ready to go into the oven for 7 to 8 minutes



CHEESE HEAD PIZZA 

INGREDIENTS:

8 ounces (2 cups) shredded mozzarella (whole milk or part skim)
3 ounces brick style cream cheese
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan (powdery style)
1/8 teaspoon salt, optional
Dash garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 large egg
1 tablespoon olive oil (to press out dough with hands or rubber spatula)
Desired toppings (pizza sauce, pepperoni, cooked peppers, onions, mushrooms, additional cheese, etc.)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet or pizza pan with parchment paper.

Place mozzarella and cream cheese in a medium bowl. Heat cheese in microwave on high for 45 seconds; stir and heat an additional 30 to 45 seconds or until a hot melty mass of cheese is formed.

While cheese is melting in microwave, stir almond flour, Parmesan, salt, garlic powder and Italian seasoning together in a small bowl. Add flour mixture and egg to bowl of hot melted cheese. Working quickly, fold and stir mixture together with a rubber spatula until a ball of dough is formed (make sure cheese mixture is hot before adding flour and egg).   

Place ball of dough in center of parchment lined baking sheet. Press dough out with oiled hands or pour the 1 tablespoon of olive oil on top of dough to help press and smooth dough out using the rubber spatula into the desired shape (round, oval or rectangular) until about ¼-inch thick. Prick holes all over crust surface with a fork to prevent crust from bubbling up. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden (be careful not to overbake so it doesn't burn when returning to oven to bake with toppings). Remove crust and top with pizza sauce, additional cheese, and any desired toppings. Reduce oven temp to 400 degrees F and bake an additional 5 to 7 minutes or until cheese is melted and heated through. 


          

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Chocolate Chip Biscotti - Throwback Thursday

Today I'm re-sharing my recipe for Chocolate Chip Biscotti. I absolutely LOVE these biscotti. A couple of years ago, I tried my hand out at making biscotti after one of my sons gave me a biscotti pan (by USA Pan) for Christmas. One of my favorite flavors of biscotti is cranberry pistachio, but since it was my first run at making biscotti, I decided to go with chocolate chip, not to mention it's a more popular flavor. A few weeks after making these biscotti, I actually made my favorite Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti. They turned out amazing as well.

I was so excited at how these biscotti turned out and surprised at how easy they were to make. Even if you don't own a biscotti pan, you don't need to have a special pan to make yours; a simple cookie sheet will work just fine (although I really do love my pan)! If you've never had biscotti before, they are a dry, crisp, twice baked cookie that originated in Italy and they're not too sweet. They are baked the first time as a loaf, then sliced and baked on a cookie sheet the second time until they are dry and toasty. I think they're best dunked in coffee. The commercially made biscotti that I used to eat contained 18 grams of carbs and 10 grams of sugar each. My grain free version made with almond flour and sweetened with Swerve only contain 3.7 net carbs and 1.8 grams of sugar each which is a huge difference. Check out my recipe and photos below. Enjoy!








Dunking beauties!

Chocolate Chip Biscotti
Makes approximately 18

Ingredients:

5 tablespoons butter, softened
2/3 cup granular sweetener (I used sugar free Swerve Sweetener)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (I used Equal Exchange 70% cacao bittersweet chips)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease a 12” x 5-1/2” biscotti pan or 18” x 13” baking sheet (or line with parchment).

In a medium bowl, cream butter and granular sweetener together. Add vanilla and beat in the eggs. Add almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder and salt, stirring until smooth. Mix in chocolate chips. 

Scoop dough into the center of prepared biscotti pan. Using wet hands, shape dough into a log shape mounded slightly higher in the center. Leave approximately a 3/4” space around the edges of the pan to allow room to spread during baking. If using a baking sheet, place dough in center of prepared baking sheet and shape into a log approximately 10-1/2” x 3”, mounding slightly higher in the center.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool in pan for 20 minutes, then carefully remove from pan and transfer to wire rack to cool for about one hour.

Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F. Using a sharp chef’s knife, slice biscotti crosswise into 3/4" slices (they can also be cut diagonally, if preferred).  Lay slices on sides on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until dry and golden; cool completely. Biscotti continue to dry and crisp as they cool. Store in airtight container.

*Notes: If biscotti slices begin to brown too quickly, reduce oven temperature to 275 degrees F. If desired, biscotti can be dipped into or drizzled with melted dark chocolate.

*Nutrition Information: Each serving contains approximately 3.7 grams net carbohydrates (total carbohydrates minus fiber) and 1.8 grams sugar.


       

Monday, September 4, 2017

Pimento Cheese Burgers

This evening I made grilled Pimento Cheese Burgers and my Easy Coleslaw for dinner. Rather than used a bagged coleslaw mix, I simply thinly sliced a small head of cabbage and grated 1 medium carrot. If you have time to do that, I think it makes a much fresher coleslaw but both are good. We picked up 2 pounds of ground chuck from The Fresh Market (they had it on sale for $3.99/lb). To make the burgers, I added 1 cup of Sargento's Traditional Cut (thick shreds) shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese, 2 ounces of jarred diced pimentos and 3 heaping tablespoons of mayonnaise. I seasoned the burgers with McCormick's Grill Mates Chipotle & Roasted Garlic while they were grilling. I served my burger between 2 slices of juicy ripe tomato slices topped with Bubbies pickles. It was a fresh and delicious meal. These burgers were super tender and moist and were just a little difficult flipping on the grill. They might do better on a flat griddle pan on the grill but they turned out great. I made six 1/3-lb burgers. I snapped a few photos below and included the easy peasy recipe. Enjoy!






Pimento Cheese Burgers

Ingredients:

2 pounds ground chuck
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise
2 ounces diced pimentos, drained
McCormick's Grill Mates Chipotle & Roasted Garlic Seasoning, optional
Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:

Combine all ingredients; divide and form into 6 patties. Season with chipotle seasoning, salt and pepper. Grill over a medium hot grill (400 degrees F) for approximately 6 minutes per side, or until desired doneness. Transfer to a platter and serve on grain free buns, if desired.




Labor Day Breakfast 2017

It's a crisp and cool beautiful morning here this morning. We awoke to 57 degrees which is such a pleasant surprise. It's amazing how much the cool fresh air energizes you. After a chilly walk with Spike this morning I couldn't wait to get back inside and make breakfast. I scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese, cooked up some chicken sausage patties (Delia's Chicken Sausage), and made a delicious Brussels Sprouts Hash using only thinly sliced fresh sprouts (from Sprouts Farmers Market) -- haha; sprouts from Sprouts and thinly sliced Vidalia onions that a sauteed on high in the same skillet I cooked the sausage in and seasoned with salt and pepper. I sliced up some beautiful ripe strawberries and we enjoyed a simple, healthy breakfast that will last us until dinnertime. I snapped a quick photo below. Enjoy!


            

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Best Ever Eggplant Parmesan - Easy Low Carb

This evening I made my Eggplant Parmesan. I absolutely love eggplant. Rather than the traditional way of breading and frying the eggplant before assembling the casserole, I brush the slices of eggplant with olive oil, season with salt and then bake for 25 to 30 minutes until tender. There are very few ingredients in this dish, so using the best ingredients makes a big difference. I found beautiful fresh eggplants at Sprouts Farmers Market. I like to use Costco's organic extra virgin olive oil, Sargento's traditional cut mozzarella cheese as well as their sliced Provolone. Since I like my Eggplant Parmesan to have a little kick, I use Rao's Arrabbiata Sauce for a bit of heat. I found some beautiful shaved Parmesan cheese at Sprouts that was shaved in nice big thick flakes, and I used that to top the dish with. I wanted to make sure you could really taste the Parmesan. Use your own favorite jarred or homemade sauce and your favorite cheeses. As I was layering my eggplant, it was obvious after the first layer that I had enough to make 3 layers of eggplant instead of two, so I just divided my sauce out accordingly to make sure I had enough sauce for the 3rd row. It worked out perfectly. This Eggplant Parmesan is honestly some of the best I've ever had. The eggplant literally melts in your mouth. The eggplants I used were fresh and had very little seeds, which are the best to use. Larger, older eggplant can be filled with too many seeds which can sometimes be a little bitter. These were perfect. I snapped some photos below of the different steps as well as included the recipe below. Enjoy!









Eggplant Parmesan - Low Carb

Ingredients:

4 medium eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch thick round slices
1/3 cup olive oil (more, if needed)
Sea salt, to taste
1 24-ounce jar pasta sauce (I used Rao's Arrabbiata Sauce)
12-ounces (about 3 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese (more, if desired)
5 to 6 slices provolone cheese, cut into fourths
1/2 cup shredded or shaved Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Brush both sides of eggplant slices with olive oil and place on a parchment lined baking sheet or in a single layer in a nonstick roasting pan. Season with salt, to taste. Bake for 15 minutes; turn slices over, brush with additional olive oil, and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Set cooked eggplant aside.

Reduce oven to 400 degrees F. Spread about 1/2 cup of pasta sauce in the bottom of a 2 to 3 quart casserole dish. Place half of the eggplant slices on top of sauce (see note below). Top and spread each slice with a spoonful (about 1 tablespoon) of sauce. Top with half of the mozzarella cheese. Cut slices of provolone cheese in half, then half again to cut into fourths. Place 1/4 slice of provolone on top of each eggplant/mozzarella mound. Top with remaining half of eggplant slices. Spoon remaining pasta sauce on top of each eggplant stack. Top with remaining half of mozzarella cheese, then with final layer of Parmesan cheese. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. If desired, run under the broiler for a few minutes to brown cheese. Allow to sit for about 10 to 15 minutes before serving so cheese can set up.

*Note: If you have extra slices of cooked eggplant left, you can add an additional layer of eggplant and top with sauce, then end with Parmesan. 



            

Saturday's Breakfast - Cheddar Eggs, Bacon and Hashed Brown Sprouts

Happy Saturday! This morning we awoke to a beautiful cool and breezy morning. It was in the mid-60s and simply gorgeous out. Hubby wanted to take me out to breakfast but I told him I'd rather make it at home before we start our day. I kept it simple, fresh and easy. We had scrambled eggs with lots of sharp cheddar cheese (I used Sargento's traditional cut sharp cheddar because it melts so nicely into the eggs). I made bacon, using Costco's pre-cooked bacon that simply needs to be heated in a skillet to crisp up. This is the first I've tried it and it's pretty good and certainly no where near as messy as cooking it raw. Only a small amount of fat cooks out as it heats. I cooked 8 strips and maybe only 1 tablespoon of drippings remained in the skillet. I moved out the bacon and added a few generous handfuls of fresh brussels sprouts that I sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices. I added a tablespoon of butter to the skillet with the bacon drippings and added the sprouts to a hot skillet and seasoned with salt and pepper. I let them brown before stirring and continued to cook them over medium high heat for about 5 to 7 minutes. Hubby and I both commented how delicious they were. I actually prefer them to hash brown potatoes. They'd be great with some diced Vidalia onions tossed in but I kept it simple and uncomplicated this morning. Our plate consisted of eggs, cheddar cheese, bacon, brussels sprouts and butter...that's it. So simple yet so delicious! Check out the photo below. I'm also including a copy of last night's easy dinner. We grilled burgers and placed them on top of a big fat slice of heirloom tomato topped with 3-pepper spicy cheese and topped them with Bubbie's pickles and a bit of ketchup and mustard. It was another simple and easy meal. Enjoy!






       

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Glazed Blueberry Breakfast Rolls - an Ode to Bojangles Bo-Berry Biscuits

Since another holiday weekend is upon us, I wanted to re-share my recipe for Glazed Blueberry Breakfast Rolls that I created a couple of years ago that was inspired by one of my followers who asked for my assistance in creating a healthier version of one of her old favorites; Bojangles Bo-Berry Biscuits. I thought these would be a perfect breakfast idea for the upcoming holiday weekend as we wind down summer. Since I had never actually tried a Bo-Berry Biscuit before, I had to do a little research (she also sent me a recipe for a conventional version of them as well; the original recipe had wheat and sugar). I must say that I was quite excited to have successfully created a grain free version. My recipe for Glazed Blueberry Breakfast Rolls was modeled after the Bo-Berry Biscuits from Bojangles.

These rolls are amazing! They're topped with a vanilla glaze that can either be used as a fluffy vanilla frosting when chilled or a luscious vanilla glaze when warmed and spread over one of these warm sweet rolls. I tested them out with frozen organic wild blueberries as well as dried blueberries. I prefer to glaze them one at a time as I eat them. I simply pop one into the microwave for 10 seconds or less and spread it with the glaze mixture and let it melt and run down the sides. If serving them to a group, just glaze and top them all at once instead. You could toss in a couple diced strawberries and swap them for half of the blueberries if you wanted and topped with the white vanilla glaze, red strawberries and blueberries, they would make the perfect Labor Day Weekend breakfast! I 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 my photos and recipe below. Enjoy!


Scoop
Pat and smooth with dampened fingertips
Before baking
After baking



Blueberry Breakfast Rolls
Makes 12

Ingredients:

1/2 cup confectioners style Swerve Sweetener (or other powdered sweetener)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 Tablespoons chilled butter, diced
3 ounces very cold brick style cream cheese, diced
2 large eggs
1/4 to 1/2 cup cold buttermilk (*see note below for directions on how much to use)
1/2 cup of thawed “frozen wild blueberries”, drained and patted dry (or dried blueberries)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a muffin top pan or line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium mixing bowl, add almond flour, sweetener, baking powder, soda and salt; whisk to mix well.  Add diced chilled butter and cream cheese.  Using a pastry/dough blender, cut butter and cream cheese into dry ingredients until moistened and crumbly.

Crack both eggs into glass measuring cup; fill with buttermilk to the 3/4 cup mark (total mixture of eggs and buttermilk should equal 3/4 cup). Make a well in the center of the flour mixture; add buttermilk and egg mixture and mix just until it pulls together into a soft sticky dough. Fold in the blueberries. The dough will be light and fluffy.

Scoop dough onto prepared pan or baking sheet using a 3-tablespoon size retractable scoop, spacing evenly apart to make approximately 12 equal sized mounds. Lightly tamp down tops to barely flatten top only (do not flatten biscuits). Bake for approximately 20-22 minutes or until light golden brown. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to complete cooling. Prepare optional vanilla glaze and spread on top of warm biscuits, if desired. Makes 12.

*Notes: Because eggs vary in size and volume, add them to the glass measuring cup first and then fill with buttermilk to the 3/4 cup mark (amount of buttermilk used will be between 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup, depending on the actual volume of eggs). The total liquid mixture should equal 3/4 cup. A tip to keep frozen blueberries from bleeding into the batter is to thaw them first, drain off juice; gently blot and pat dry with paper towels. Spread out on a parchment lined plate or baking sheet and freeze to keep from turning batter blue when folding them in.

Vanilla Glaze:

1 1/2 Tablespoons softened cream cheese (very soft and almost melted)
7 to 8 Tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners style Swerve Sweetener (or other powdered sweetener)
Few drops liquid stevia, to taste

To Make Glaze: Combine cream cheese, confectioners style sweetener, and vanilla. Add cream a few tablespoons at a time, mixing vigorously after each addition until smooth and desired consistency. To adjust sweetness without altering glaze consistency, add a drop or two liquid stevia, to taste. When chilled, this glaze behaves like a rich and fluffy frosting. When warmed or spread on a warm biscuit, it melts and behaves as a glaze. Refrigerate any leftover glaze.

*Note: If desired, add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest to glaze.