Friday, October 24, 2014

Sausage Pepper & Onion Pizza - Low Carb

This evening hubby was had a conference he was attending until late in the evening, so it was just me for dinner. I went to Sprouts on my way home from work and picked up some fresh hot Italian chicken sausage (they make it fresh in-house without any MSG, nitrites or nitrates), red bell peppers, onions and fresh basil so I could make myself a pizza for dinner. When I got home, I removed the sausage from its casing and browned it along with some diced onion and red bell peppers. While they were browning, I quickly mixed together the dough for the pizza crust. I made my no-flax version of pizza crust, and the little tweak I did made it the best ever. Tonight, I mixed about 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese into my dough and it turned out awesome (I've included that addition to the recipe as optional, but unless you are opposed to adding it, its worth adding). The mozzarella cheese browned and crisped in the crust and I loved the texture. I topped my pizza with fresh sliced basil after pulling it out of the oven. This pizza was definitely one you could pick up and eat with your hands...no fork required at all and my pizza had heavy toppings piled on! I snapped a few photos and included the recipe below. Enjoy!


Fresh out of the oven

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Chocolate-Cranberry Pecan Tartlets - NEW RECIPE ALERT!


It's a bright, beautiful FALL day here and only 63 degrees outside at lunch time. Finally, we have a day that actually feels like its supposed to for this time of year. 

As promised, today I'm going to share my new dessert recipe with you that I created as a guest post for Honevyille. Honeyville's blanched almond flour is my most favorite grain free baking ingredient. I've been using it for over 2 years now and it's usually at the center of most of my grain-free baking. I love it...period. 

My new dessert has all the "right stuff" and some of my most favorite flavors...chocolate, pecans, and CRANBERRIES! Yay!!! I am so obsessed with cranberries that it isn't funny! Seriously, I just need to move to Maine and buy my own cranberry bog and be done with it! I would much rather have cranberries in my backyard than grass. Back to my new dessert recipe (I get distracted when talking about cranberries). I am excited to debut my Chocolate-Cranberry Pecan Tartlets with you. If you are from the south, they are very similar to pecan tassies, only better. I used Honeyville's blanched almond flour to create the miniature crusts and they turned out tender and beautiful! 

I used my homemade sugar-free Cranberry Orange Sauce as the method to add the cranberries to these little beauties. The tartlets are not overly sweet and you get a little burst of cranberry, chocolate and pecan flavor in every bite. Rather than ramble on and on...I'm going to give you the link to the recipe for these. Click this link to get the recipe for: Chocolate-Cranberry Pecan Tartlets. Enjoy!



Baked to perfection and cooling off for a few minutes in the pan
Transferred to a wire rack to finish cooling

Every single one came out perfectly from my mini-muffin tin by USA Pan


       

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Slow Cooked Boneless Beef Short Ribs w/ Ancho-Cranberry Au Jus

Last night I put some beautiful boneless beef chuck short ribs in my crock pot before going to sleep. It was after midnight when I put them on to cook because I forgot to do it earlier as planned. I cooked them on low overnight and all day long today so they were super tender and moist. Honestly, this particular cut of beef I buy from Costco is some of the best I've had. I try to choose ribs that are very meaty and not too fatty. They turn out delicious every single time. I used my basic recipe for Slow Cooked Boneless Beef Short Ribs and then added cranberries and a bit more sweetener to change them up a bit and because I just absolutely love cranberries!

One of the seasonings used in the sauce is ground ancho chile powder. I also added a bit of chili-garlic sauce as well for a little extra kick. I don't make them super spicy but there is a spicy undertone that I balance with a little Swerve sweetener. As I was opening and closing the fridge the big bowl of washed fresh cranberries on the top shelf caught my eye. I wondered how adding some cranberries to the crock pot might add some extra zing to the sweet and spicy flavored juices. I decided there was only one way to find out and that was to go for it. I bumped up my sweetener by a couple tablespoons to balance the tartness of the cranberries and whisked it into the sauce before pouring it over the ribs. I measured out a rounded cup of cranberries and scattered them on top of the ribs before covering the crock pot. Then...I did a little happy dance. If this turned out good, it would be yet ANOTHER way to enjoy my beloved cranberries. 

Other than adding a little more sweetener to balance the tartness and bring out the cranberry flavor, the only thing I did differently was to boil down the juices on the stove top for about 15 minutes or so to reduce them by about 1/4. I pressed the cranberries that were floating on top to make sure they had all ruptured which incorporated them nicely into the "au jus." I added another couple tablespoons of Swerve as it was cooking down (one tablespoon at a time, tasting after each addition) and then a pinch of sea salt. The ancho-cranberry au jus was absolutely delicious. The spicy-sweet-salty-tart flavor was perfectly balanced without either one of the flavors overpowering the other. They complemented each other beautifully. To go along with our short ribs, I thinly sliced half of a small head of cabbage and lightly steamed it with a couple tablespoons of water in the microwave for about 5 minutes just until wilted but still bright green. I drained it and tossed it in a skillet with some butter on medium-high heat for a few minutes and then seasoned it with a bit of sea salt. It was that simple! Did I mention that I also served our meal with a dollop of fresh cranberry sauce on the side? I mean, who says cranberry sauce is just for turkey? I could eat it morning, noon and night! This meal was amazingly simple and amazingly delicious. I am so glad I tossed those cranberries into the crock pot last night. If you love cranberries like I do...try it, you'll like it! Enjoy!


P.S. - New dessert recipe alert for tomorrow! You are going to love this one...stay tuned!!!




Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Chicken Salad w/ Cranberries & Toasted Pecans

This evening I made a quick and easy dinner because I'm working on another recipe project and I didn't have a lot of time. I'm still in full fledged cranberry mode here so I wanted to find a way to wind cranberries into my meal. I actually had one of my Cranberry Walnut Power Bagels with butter and "cranberry sauce jam" for lunch and wanted to enjoy cranberries again with my dinner. 

I had some leftover cooked chicken in the fridge so I decided to make an autumn version of chicken salad for our dinner. It was so easy to do and so good. I used my Cranberry Orange Sauce to add cranberries to the chicken salad and it was SO good! I also added some McCormick Chipotle & Roasted Garlic Seasoning instead of salt and pepper and it added a nice flavor. I figured hubby would turn his nose up to adding the cranberries so I initially separated his chicken salad out before adding the cranberry sauce but he saw mine and said he wanted that too! I served it in crisp little artisan romaine lettuce cups. I will definitely be making this chicken salad again. I snapped a couple photos and included the easy peasy recipe for it below. Enjoy!




Monday, October 20, 2014

Pumpkin Pie-sicles w/ Cinnamon Pecan Crust

This evening I'm sharing one of the easy dessert recipes that I've made in the last couple weeks. Overall, it's been an unusually warm autumn here thus far, so I decided to makeover one of my Fall favorites into a treat that could be enjoyed year round...Pumpkin Pie-sicles with Cinnamon Pecan Crust. I had initially planned to just make pumpkin pie pops but thought...what's pumpkin pie without the crust? So, I added a simple buttery cinnamon pecan crust layer to these pumpkin pops. The first time I made them, I used a full 15-ounce can of pure pumpkin but decided it was just a little too pumpkiny (if there is such a thing). I made them again and reduced the pumpkin a bit and liked them better. If you aren't sure how pumpkiny you want them, I would suggest starting with 1 cup of pumpkin and tasting as you go, increasing it until it's "just right" for you.

One of my favorite things about these pops is the pecan crust! These pops remind me of a frozen ice cream bar version of the the pumpkin pie ice cream squares my mother used to make when I was growing up. She would soften vanilla ice cream and add pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spices and then pour it into a 9 x 13 pan lined with graham cracker crust and freeze it and then cut it into squares to serve. It was like frozen pumpkin pie. I snapped a few photos and included the easy peasy recipe below. Enjoy!



Sunday, October 19, 2014

Cranberry Walnut Power Bagels - Grain Free & Low Carb


Yesterday I did a lot of cranberry baking. One of the items I made was a fresh cranberry and walnut version of "power bagels" that I used to love eating at Einstein's Bros Bagels before I created my own grain free recipe for them. I usually add dried fruit to them with seeds (an antioxidant blend I find at Costco). I wanted to see how they would work using fresh cranberries in place of the dried fruits since I love their tart tangy flavor and we're at the beginning of cranberry season. I really liked the tart fresh cranberry flavor of this version. Their a little more tart than the dried fruit version even after I bumped up the sweetener a bit, but I like them that way. If you prefer yours a little sweeter, you can add a bit of stevia to the batter to your liking. I enjoyed one for breakfast this morning spread with cream cheese and topped with my fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce that I used as the "jam." It was complete cranberry heaven. 

I've also been working on a couple of other projects as well this weekend. I absolutely loved the one I created today and will share it with you later this week. I snapped a few photos of my Cranberry Walnut Power Bagels below as well as posted the recipe. Enjoy!



Saturday, October 18, 2014

Chicken Fajita Salad - Easy, Quick & Low Carb

Today was a beautiful day here. It was bright, sunny and warm, around 71 degrees and breezy. Before I ate breakfast or lunch, I began making "cranberry items."  I made a batch of my Cranberry Orange Coconut Sauce, (one of my favorites); 4 dozen of my Cranberry Lemon Macaroon Mini Muffins; and a batch of Cranberry Walnut Bagels (a new recipe that I will taste test for breakfast tomorrow morning). As you can tell...I'm in full swing Cranberry mode today! LOL

For dinner this evening, I wanted to grill something because it was such a beautiful afternoon. I decided to make us gigantic Chicken Fajita Salads. I spritzed boneless chicken breasts with olive oil spray and seasoned both sides with Penzeys Fajita Seasoning that I picked up at Penzeys last weekend. It's good and doesn't have any junk or starches added...just spices. We grilled the chicken for 5 to 6 minutes per side. While the chicken was grilling, I cut up 2 small heads of artisan romaine lettuce (from Costco), thinly sliced a small carrot, halved some grape tomatoes, shredded up some sharp white cheddar cheese, and sliced an avocado. I sauteed yellow bell peppers and onions and then filled our bowls up with the salad mixture and topped it with the cooked peppers and onions and grilled fajita chicken breasts. It was an awesome meal. I snapped a few photos of our gorgeous salads below. Enjoy!






Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Chicken Noodle Soup - Low Carb & Grain Free

This evening I made grain-free Chicken Noodle Soup for dinner. We actually had a cold front move in after the torrential rain and storms we had yesterday. It was chilly today for a change (well, chilly for Atlanta weather...LOL). I used homemade chicken stock for my soup that I made in the crock pot a couple days ago using a couple chicken carcasses from the chicken we had for dinner Sunday night. I filled my 6-quart crock pot almost to the top and slow cooked the leftover chicken and carcasses for about 24 hours (overnight and all day long) and then strained and refrigerated it.

When I got home from work this evening, I placed the pot of chicken stock on the stove and brought it to a boil and cooked it down a bit to concentrate it while I sliced and diced my celery and carrots. I added them to the pot and cooked until tender. While my soup was simmering, I made 4 grain-free tortillas to cut up and make noodles with. I usually like to cut them into thin noodles, but this evening I made wide noodles instead. They are so quick and easy to make and only take about 5 minutes or so to actually cook. The soup was delicious and perfect for our chilly evening. Hubby and I really enjoyed it. I look forward to having some for lunch tomorrow. I love using my grain-free tortillas as noodles in this soup. I snapped a few photos as well as included the easy peasy recipe below. If you miss homemade chicken noodle soup, you will love this recipe. Enjoy!





Chicken Noodle Soup - Grain Free

Ingredients:

8 cups chicken stock
2 celery stalks, diced
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1 to 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley, optional
2 to 3 cups diced cooked chicken
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
4 grain-free tortillas, sliced into 1/4" - 1/2" noodle strips

For the "tortillas/noodles"
1/2 cup egg whites or Egg Beaters
1 to 2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup blanched almond flour
4 teaspoons ground golden flax
4 teaspoons finely grated Parmesan (powdery style)
Pinch sea salt

Directions:

To make the tortilla/noodles, whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl to form a smooth, thin batter (makes approximately 3/4 cup batter). Lightly spray a 10-inch non-stick skillet with olive oil spray and heat over medium-high heat. Pour a few tablespoons batter into hot skillet, tilting the pan and using a circular motion to evenly distribute the batter in the bottom to make an approximate 8-inch tortilla/noodle. Cook approximately 1 to 2 minutes, until very lightly browned and cooked around edges. Carefully loosen and flip using a rubber spatula; cook for about another minute. Transfer to a plate and repeat for remaining noodle/tortillas (lightly re-spraying pan for each). Makes approximately four 8-inch tortillas. Cut into desired noodle sized strips.

In a large stock pot, bring chicken stock, celery and carrots to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer and cook until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Add parsley and chicken; season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Add noodles and heat about 5 minutes. 



                 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Beef Paprikash Stew - Slow Cooker Style

This evening we had Slow Cooker Beef Paprikash Stew for dinner. It was so easy to make and such a nice hearty, meaty stew that contained all the flavors of beef paprikash. I didn't brown my beef ahead of time, I just mixed everything together (except for the sour cream) in the crock pot and cooked it for about 12 hours. I stirred the sour cream in shortly before serving and then tasted the stew to adjust the seasoning. I served the stew with my Cheddar Black Pepper Biscuits. I popped the biscuits back into a low heat oven (about 300 degrees) and turned off the heat and let them sit in the oven for about 10 minutes to get hot and toasty. They were awesome with the stew. I always love coming home to a meal cooked in my crock pot. I snapped a few photos for you to see below. The recipe for the stew is below and to get to my biscuit recipe, click on the biscuit link above. Enjoy!






Monday, October 13, 2014

Grilled Turkish Style Lamb Chops & Parmesan Cauliflower Mash w/ Oven Roasted Tomatoes

This evening I made Turkish Style Lamb Chops for dinner. This weekend I picked up some beautiful loin lamb chops from Costco. They are so tender and delicious. If you've never had a loin style lamb chop before, they are like a miniature porterhouse steaks. They are so easy to prepare. I simply mixed the freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons and about 1/4 cup of olive oil together along with a teaspoonful of Turkish Seasoning I picked up at Penzeys Spices over the weekend. I usually like to give them a Greek flavor with lemon, garlic and rosemary...but this particular Turkish spice blend was amazing and I actually preferred this flavor over the Greek style. After whisking together the lemon juice, olive oil and seasoning, I seasoned both sides of the lamb chops with additional Turkish Seasoning and then placed them in a shallow glass casserole dish and poured the marinade over the chops. I kept them out at room temperature since I only marinated them for about 30 minutes or so. I turned them over after 15 minutes to allow the other side to sit in the marinade. Since these lamb chops are so tender, they don't need to marinate long at all. We grilled them for about 5 minutes per side.

To go with our lamb chops, I made my Parmesan Cauliflower Mash but decided to give it a different twist. I added a couple rounded tablespoonfuls of oven roasted tomatoes packed in oil (that I buy at Costco) to the cooked cauliflower along with cream, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese and butter before pureeing it with my stick blender. I absolutely love my stick blender for making cauliflower mash. You can puree it in the same pan you cooked it in without having to transfer it to a blender or food processor and then returning to the pan. Less mess and clean up and it makes it easy to cover the pan and keep warm or reheat slightly before serving. This cauliflower mash is absolutely smooth and luscious; you will never miss mashed potatoes after trying it! I snapped a few photos for you to see below. Here's the link to my recipe for: "Rich & Thick Parmesan Cauliflower Mash". The only modification I made to it this evening was the addition of the roasted tomatoes before pureeing. Enjoy!




Oven roasted tomatoes added to the cooked cauliflower before pureeing
Luscious cauliflower mash cooked in chicken broth and pureed with cream, butter, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese and oven roasted tomatoes -- better than mashed potatoes!



Sunday, October 12, 2014

Cinnamon Vanilla Yogurt Topped with Low Carb "Granola & Fruit"

This morning I was anxious to try one of the new items I picked up at Whole Foods yesterday afternoon. I found a bag of something called "noGRAINola" which is both low carb and "no sugar added." It contains very few ingredients; just organic coconut, prunes, almonds, carrots, stevia, and Himalayan sea salt. It's nice chunky clusters of crispiness and not overly sweet. When I tasted it last night, I knew it would be something I'd like to top my yogurt with.

I mixed my little container of Fage Greek Yogurt with Ceylon cinnamon, a couple drops of vanilla extract and stevia. I scooped it into a little mini-trifle bowl (because after all, this is not plain weekday yogurt...it's special weekend yogurt...LOL). I topped my cinnamon vanilla yogurt with my "granola" and a little bit of the no sugar added dried fruit by "Made in Nature" (their Antioxidant Fusion blend I get from Costco to use in my Power Bagel recipe). It was a great combination and a nice "autumn topping blend" to enjoy on this cool October morning. I would definitely buy this no-grain granola product again. I enjoyed it alongside a big mug of my new favorite coffee, Classico by Lavazza (Italy's favorite coffee, they claim). I can't speak for Italy...but I can say it is definitely one of my favorites. I snapped a few photos of easy breakfast below. Enjoy!






        


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Jack-Fried Eggs, Sausage, and Power Bagel Toast

This morning we slept in a bit. I thought about making omelets for breakfast but decided instead to make fried eggs. The main reason I had wanted an omelet was so I could fill it with my Cabot pepper jack cheese that I love. As I was cracking my eggs into the pan to fry, I decided that I could still enjoy my pepper jack cheese with fried eggs...I would just make "Jack-Fried Eggs." I diced up the pepper jack cheese and when my eggs were close to being done, I sprinkled the diced cheese on top and covered the pan for a minute or so just until the cheese melted and then pulled it off the heat and let it sit just so the cheese could set up a little bit and not run off when I slid the eggs off onto my plate. It worked wonderfully! 

While the eggs were set aside, I split and toasted one of my Power Bagels and buttered it with Kerrygold butter. It was like having fruited cinnamon toast...it was SO good! I heated up a couple Applegate chicken maple sausages and "Voila"...I had a super yummy breakfast with almost no effort. I snapped a quick photo for you to see below. Enjoy!

P.S. -- For those of you that are Costco members, they have Kerrygold butter on sale this month for $1.50 off per box ($5.49 on sale for a box of 3 bricks). Even though I didn't need any right now, I picked up a couple extra boxes. You can never have too much Kerrygold!  


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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Easy Garden Fresh Salad Topped w/ Chicken Cranberry Meatballs

This evening I wasn't hungry for a big dinner since I had leftover Greek Style Meatloaf for lunch. As I rummaged around in the fridge, I spotted the big container of spring mix salad I had in there...and considered just having a big salad for dinner. Right beside the spring mix was a package of "Kickin Cranberry Chicken Meatballs" I picked up at Costco this past weekend to try. They have both cranberry and chipotle in them (2 of my favorite flavors) and it sounded like an interesting combination. I figured I could probably make something similar myself, but wanted to give these a try to see how I might want to season and flavor them when I give my own recipe for them a try soon. I decided to heat a batch of them in the oven (they take 15-20 minutes to heat in the oven or you can heat them in the microwave...I chose the oven). 

While the meatballs heated, I piled our plates with fresh spring mix and then placed the meatballs in the center. I had leftover ranch dressing that we used. I can honestly say that I've never had salad topped with meatballs before...but it was actually good! It was a quick and easy meal that I put together in about 15-20 minutes and was perfect for a light dinner. I'll be making my own version of these little meatballs soon. I snapped a couple quick photos for you to see my silly little meatball salad below. Enjoy!




        

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Greek Style Meatloaf - Flavorful & Low Carb

This evening I decided to put together a Greek Style Meatloaf. I had several packages of organic ground beef that I picked up at Costco. It comes in 3 individual packs each containing about 1-1/3 pounds of beef. Since it's just hubby and I, I only used one package. It made plenty for dinner tonight and enough for leftovers for another meal for us or a couple of lunches. I served it with steamed fresh buttered broccoli and carrots. It was such a simple comfort meal to put together.

This meatloaf was unbelievably flavorful and moist. It once again proves that you don't need to add eggs or breadcrumbs to meatloaf to bind it or make it moist (just like my Mexican Style Meatloaf). Adding simple, real whole foods that are flavorful works so much better than empty bland fillers. I did a quick saute of fresh baby spinach and then chopped and drained it (about 3/4 cup cooked spinach). I added a 4-ounce package of crumbled feta cheese and a few tablespoons of the organic oven roasted tomatoes packed in oil that I get at Costco. They add loads of flavor. Instead of adding individual herbs and salt, I just added one teaspoon of Greek Seasoning that I buy at Penzeys (it's a hand mixed blend of coarse salt, garlic, lemon, black pepper, Turkish oregano and marjoram). I love that spice blend; it makes a great Greek salad dressing, too. 

Using those few ingredients packed this meatloaf with loads of flavor and moistness. With every bite I kept saying out loud how really good this meatloaf was. LOL Honestly, it was one of my favorite meatloaves and I can't wait to have it for lunch tomorrow! It took almost no time to put together and I was able to get some things done around the house while it baked. The fresh veggies took only 4 or 5 minutes to steam lightly in the microwave. It was an effortless meal that was absolutely delicious. I snapped a few photos below as well as included my easy peasy recipe. Enjoy!







My favorite Greek seasoning!
My favorite oven roasted tomatoes packed in oil!