Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Spicy Pimento Cheese Ball - Happy New Year's Eve!

This afternoon I decided to make a cheese ball and crackers to enjoy later this evening as we count down to 2015. I'm going to go and pick up some fresh Boars Head deli and cheese and make some simple meat and cheese roll ups and put out some nuts, fruits and grain free chocolate chip cookies to snack on later this evening rather than have a full meal for dinner. 

One of hubby's favorite things to eat is Pimento Cheese (it's a southern thing) which consists of cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, pimentos and some other seasonings. It's usually a gloppy type of spread that you spread on crackers (or in his case makes sandwiches with). He was born and raised in Georgia, so it's something he has eaten all of his life. I decided that I would make a Spicy Pimento Cheese Ball to enjoy on my Chipotle Cheddar Crackers. That way he gets to enjoy the flavor of Pimento Cheese (in a spiced up way) and I don't have to endure the mayonnaisy gloppiness (how is that for a non-southern description). Both the cheese ball and crackers are VERY simple to make. I just added and tasted as I went along for the cheese ball. I snapped a few photos below as well as included the easy recipe for my Spicy Pimento Cheese Ball. Enjoy!






Spicy Pimento Cheese Ball

Ingredients:

1 8-ounce package brick-style cream cheese, softened
8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 2 cups)
4 ounces shredded Monterey Pepper-Jack cheese (about 1 cup)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
2 to 3 tablespoons diced pimentos
1 cup chopped pecans
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley, optional

Directions:

Combine softened cream cheese, cheddar cheese, pepper-jack cheese, Worcestershire, lemon juice, sriracha, chives and pimentos together in a large bowl until evenly combined. Line a separate medium sized bowl with plastic wrap, overlapping over the edges. Scoop cheese mixture into lined bowl, gently pressing with a rubber spatula into a ball shape. Bring edges of plastic wrap over the top of the cheese ball. Press wrapped cheese into a ball shape and refrigerate in bowl for several hours to overnight until firm. When firm, unwrap and roll into chopped pecans and/or parsley. Serve with crackers or raw vegetables.

*Note: Increase pimentos, if desired.

        

Last Breakfast for 2014 - Low Carb Awesomeness

This morning I decided to make something a little different for the last breakfast of 2014. I recently made a batch of my Mini Cranberry Walnut Loaves. With that recipe, I created 8 mini loaves (with my mini loaf pan); 6 round power bagel/muffins (using my mini round cake pan) and 4 thinner rounds (using my muffin top pan). I now have plenty of bread products that will last me for quite a while. I don't eat them every day, but at most, a couple times per week (usually on the weekends). This morning I sliced one of the round "power bagel" versions in half and warmed it up a bit and then placed a fried egg topped with cheddar cheese on top along with a light schmear of cranberry sauce on the top of the "bun." It was amazing! I snapped a few photos below.

Yesterday I celebrated my daughter's birthday by taking her to lunch and shopping a bit in the afternoon. Yesterday evening, one of my sons returned from a few day cruise so we went out to dinner late last night. Even though I ate out twice yesterday, it was easy to stay low carb. I had a grilled burger topped with cheddar and bacon for lunch along with a small side salad with oil and vinegar. For dinner I had a grilled chicken breast with roasted veggies and slaw made with cabbage, feta cheese and Greek dressing. 

I am currently half way through my 3rd year of eating wheat and grain free (with low sugar). Unlike most other plans I've tried over the years, this low carb plan actually gets easier with time and becomes second nature. For those of you that are just beginning your low carb journeys or are about to begin your journey with the coming new year...you are about to begin one of the BEST journeys of your life. Whether or not you have any weight to lose or not, you will find that getting away from a steady diet of processed foods and back to "real food" will be one of the best gifts you give yourself. You will no longer be a slave to the yo-yo effects of sugar and grains and will find a real sense of calm come over you with regards to food. You will be the one in control of your appetite; it won't control you, driving you to eat more and more of the things that are detrimental to your health and well being. I hope you enjoy following this low carb, grain and gluten-free journey with me as I regularly post my meals, recipes and ideas for you almost daily. 

Lastly, I'd like to ask what do you guys think of the lighter/brighter new look for my blog? Do you like it, hate it, or just aren't sure yet? I thought I'd give it a new look for the new year. Let me know what you think. Enjoy!




    

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Easy Sunday Dinner - Low Carb

It was a dark, gloomy rainy day here today. This evening one of my sons came for dinner. I made a simple easy "real food" dinner of roasted chicken, Rich & Thick Parmesan Cauliflower Mash, green beans with almonds and carrots (and a dollop of cranberry sauce). Since carrots are one of the veggies that are higher in carbs, I don't eat them often and only had a small serving. It was a simple comfort food meal and we enjoyed it. I snapped a few photos and included a photo of our sun conure, Squawkie, since I posted Spike's photo yesterday. I don't want to play favorites. LOL Enjoy!




        

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Saturday Night's Pajama Pizza Party - Grain Free Pizza

Today was a relaxing day. We had intended to run a few errands this afternoon but neither hubby or I felt like it...so we just stayed home and enjoyed the peace and quiet and relaxing for a change. We slept in a bit this morning and enjoyed a quick and easy breakfast by simply reheating my grain free "No-Flip Blueberry Pancakes" and sausage leftover from yesterday's breakfast. We didn't eat again until this evening. 

I decided to make pizza for dinner this evening. Besides sauce and mozzarella, I topped it with Fiorucci uncured pepperoni, sauteed baby spinach, red bell peppers and onions. I served it alongside a big salad made with a "7 superfoods salad mix" that I get at Costco. It comes with its own poppyseed dressing that hubby eats. I make my own "Chipotle Cranberry Vinaigrette Dressing" consisting of my cranberry sauce, avocado oil, apple cider vinegar, chipotle roasted garlic seasoning and a bit of sea salt. I absolutely love it because it contains thinly sliced brussels sprouts, kale and other greens and the cranberry dressing on top is amazing. But, the best thing about tonight's dinner besides the pizza and salad was that we ate in the dining room (instead of the kitchen) dressed in our pajamas! I snapped a few photos of our dinner below (using my new camera). I'm still learning how to use it and hope to master it soon. The pizza recipe can be found here: Low Carb Pizza. Enjoy!





    

Friday, December 26, 2014

Late Brunch - No-Flip Buttermilk Pancakes w/ Wild Blueberries

It's a bright, sunny and beautiful day here today. It started off with temps in the 30's this morning but quickly warmed up into the mid 50's. The last of my kids that stayed with us for the past few days just left a little while ago. I let him sleep in late and tip-toed around this morning so the dog and bird would keep quiet and let him sleep late. We enjoyed a late brunch around noon time. I made fried eggs, chicken sausages and my No-Flip Buttermilk Pancakes. I made blueberry pancakes using frozen wild blueberries. I love using them when fresh blueberries aren't in season. I realized that we had a "skillet palooza" using 3 different skillets for our brunch! I snapped a quick photo below. I absolutely love these no-flip pancakes because they are so easy to make and absolutely delicious, too. If you haven't tried them, you can find the recipe for them here: No-Flip Berry Pancakes. Enjoy!





Here's an old Christmas photo taken MANY years ago...I am the budding equestrian on the left
            

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas From My Home to Yours!

Merry Christmas! It's been a very busy few days but before everyone is awake this morning I'd like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas. This is my third wheat and grain free Christmas and it actually feels "normal". I made a big pan of lasagna for dinner last night and made it 4 layers high this time! I used my grain free tortillas as the noodles and I swear you can not tell the difference at all! I snapped a few photos of last night's Christmas eve dinner at my house to share. 

Now, before everyone awakes, I'm going to go and get started on breakfast! Merry Christmas to all and thanks for joining me on this journey over the last 2-1/2 years. Mostly, thanks for trusting my recipes enough to serve them to the most important people in your lives...your family. Blessings to all. Enjoy!


Note: Spike's little sofa is decorated with a snowman blanket, too! 

Lasagna is ready for the oven...looks like I've already gathered a big crowd of admirers!





Sunday, December 21, 2014

Chicken Enchilada Casserole - Low Carb Awesomeness

This afternoon we continued with our Christmas shopping...we are almost done (thank goodness)! Both of my sons came for dinner this evening so I decided to make one of their favorites...my Chicken Enchilada Casserole. It's awesome and nobody would know it was low carb and grain free (unless you told them, of course). It's made with my grain free tortillas. I jazzed up tonight's enchiladas a bit by adding some sauteed onion and red and yellow bell peppers inside the enchiladas before rolling up and scattered pickled jalapenos on top before baking. I had planned to serve the enchiladas with broccoli, but instead decided to simply serve it with sliced avocado, spritzed with fresh lemon juice and sprinkled with a bit of pink himalayan sea salt. It was delicious; it's also amazing reheated, too. I snapped a quick photo below. I also made some of my crispy style Chocolate Chip Cookies to have for dessert and sent some home with them. If you'd like to see more photos of the various stages of making this enchilada casserole as well as the recipe, click here: Chicken Enchilada Casserole. Enjoy!


        

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Slow Cooked Boneless Beef Ribs - Easy Low Carb Comfort Food

We spent a tiring afternoon shopping today. We are slowly but surely getting there. I so love my crock pot(s). I have several different sizes. Before leaving the house today I put boneless beef short ribs in my crock pot to cook while we were shopping. I knew I wouldn't feel like doing any cooking when we got home and that most restaurants would also be packed with weary shoppers. When I have time, I prefer to brown the ribs quickly on both sides before placing in the crock pot, but I skipped that step today and placed them in there without doing that. They turned out great without browning ahead of time.

The only dinner preparation I had to do this evening was quickly saute some red cabbage that I sliced (I stir-fried it in my wok in a little coconut oil). I tossed it in a little butter and seasoned with salt and pepper before serving. It only takes about 5 or 6 minutes to become crisp-tender. While the cabbage cooked, I steamed some fresh broccoli florets in my microwave for about 4 minutes, and "Voila"...dinner was ready in about 15 minutes. Not just any old dinner either, but Slow Cooked Boneless Beef Short Ribs! They are so easy to make and I love the combination of flavors...they're slightly sweet, spicy and tangy. I already had some Southern Style Buttermilk Biscuits already made that I added to our plates. We were eating a fantastic "comfort food" meal in no time at all. I love using my slow cooker/crock pot; especially when time is tight in the evenings. I snapped a quick photo of our dinner below. The recipe for the short ribs is here: Slow Cooked Boneless Beef Short Ribs.  Enjoy!


 

        
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Saturday Breakfast - Low Carb & Grain Free

This morning we slept in for a change. We had planned to go shopping last night but both hubby and I fell asleep still in our clothes without eating dinner. That means we need to face the crowds today instead. When I woke up this morning I was in the mood for a more substantial breakfast. We're planning to get out in the hustle bustle today and get our shopping finished and are easing ourselves into the day that is sure to be full of craziness and long lines. I snapped a few photos of our "comfort breakfast" below. Nothing fancy, but all low carb. Scrambled organic eggs with cheddar, Southern Style Buttermilk Biscuits, chicken maple sausage patties and Cranberry Orange Sauce served with a cup of Nantucket Blend coffee. It's just what I needed before facing shopping on the last Saturday before Christmas. Enjoy! 







         

Thursday, December 18, 2014

NEW RECIPE Dessert Alert - Cranberry Apple Crisp

Today I am excited to be doing another guest post for Honeyville and sharing my new dessert recipe for Cranberry Apple Crisp. It's so easy to make and it doesn't use a lot of ingredients or require any special pans to make. You're likely to already have most everything you need to make this. While testing this recipe out, I enjoyed testing it and eating it in a variety of "scenarios." I ate it warm; I ate it cold...I ate it topped with whipped cream, I ate it topped with sugar free vanilla coconut milk ice cream...and I must confess, on a couple of occasions, I just ate it with a spoon, right out of the casserole dish! LOL You know what all these different scenarios had in common? They were ALL good. The bottom line was that I enjoyed eating it no matter how I served or ate it!

The filling is simple and requires only 2 ingredients. And we all know that the best part about any kind of fruit crisp is the actual "crisp" part...the crumbly topping. The topping on my Cranberry Apple Crisp was amazing made with Honeyville's blanched almond flour, butter, spices, and walnuts. Of course, you know I'll use just about any excuse to find ways to eat and enjoy cranberries. Before this, I don't believe I've ever put cranberries in a crisp before...and now that I have, I don't think I'll ever make another fruit crisp without them. I hope you enjoy this festive dessert. It's absolutely perfect for fall, winter, and holiday desserts. It can be served rustic or family style in bowls or it can be served more elegantly in pretty dessert cups or martini glasses like I did. Check out a few photos below. The recipe for this dessert can be found here: -----> Cranberry Apple Crisp. Enjoy!











      

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Spicy Sausage & Sprouts - Quick & Easy Low Carb AND New Dessert Alert

Tonight we are taking a needed break from Christmas preparation...I needed an evening off to recoup. Before I tell you about this evening's quick and easy meal...I wanted to give you a DESSERT ALERT! I have a new dessert recipe coming out tomorrow! It's delicious, festive, and so easy to make. Check back tomorrow check it out...you are going to want to make it!  ;-)

This evening I made one of my favorite quick low carb meals...Sausage & Sprouts. I love this dish because not only is it super easy, but it's super tasty too. This evening I used Aidell's Habanero & Pepper Jack Smoked Chicken Sausages (nitrite and nitrate free) along with brussels sprouts and coarsely shredded red cabbage. It turned out awesome. Another one of my other favorite sausage flavors to use is Aidell's Chicken & Apple Sausage because the flavors pair nicely with the sprouts. I've even added some diced apple to the saute as well as served it topped with fried eggs before.

It's so simple to put together; I trim and halve fresh brussels sprouts and then place them in a covered glass casserole dish with a few tablespoons of water in the microwave and steam them until just tender, about 5 minutes. You could also steam them on top of the stove, if preferred. While the sprouts are steaming, I slice the sausages diagonally and then brown them in either a cast iron skillet, wok, frying pan (or you can grill them before slicing). Tonight I added a bit of coconut oil to my wok and stir-fried the slices of sausage until browned and then transferred them to a bowl and then briefly sauteed some sliced red cabbage and moved that to the bowl along with the sausage. I like to keep the red cabbage crisp-tender for a bit of added texture, color, and crunch. Lastly, I added some butter to the wok and added my steamed and drained sprouts to the pan and sauteed them until lightly browned in the butter and then added the sausage and red cabbage back to the wok and tossed until combined. That's it, it's ready to serve. I have plenty leftover for lunch tomorrow, too, which is always a good thing! I snapped a couple quick photos below. Enjoy!



         

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Quick & Easy Dinner - Chicken, Cauliflower Mash, Broccoli & Biscuits

Today was a super busy day for us. We decorated the house, went Christmas shopping and grocery shopping. Only one son came for dinner this evening since I had dinner with the other one last night. To keep dinner quick, I picked up a rotisserie chicken to save time. I just steamed some fresh broccoli, baked a batch of my Southern Style Buttermilk Biscuits and cooked and mashed fresh cauliflower and stirred in some sharp cheddar cheese. I baked sweet potatoes for the guys. It was a quick, simple and delicious meal that left us plenty of time to work on decorating the house. Every year I say I'm going to cut back on decorations and instead, every year I seem to do more! We are watching Home Alone 2 this evening. I have a few more decorations to put on the tree and I'm almost done. I snapped a quick photo of our meal below. Enjoy!



         

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Saturday Brunch - Easy Low Carb

This morning we slept in. It's bright and sunny out and we're "still" decorating and working around the house today and will do a bit of shopping later this evening after the crowds have calmed down a bit. I made hubby and I a nice Saturday brunch of cheesy scrambled eggs with diced Cabot pepper jack cheese and shredded sharp cheddar cheese with turkey sausage links. I split one of my Mini Cranberry Walnut Loaves in half and browned the cut side in melted butter in a skillet, similar to how you do when making a grilled cheese sandwich. It was so much better than simply toasting and then spreading with butter because grilling it in the skillet helped the butter permeate the bread while it got nice and toasty brown in the skillet. I topped it with fresh cranberry sauce "jam" while I ate it. I served it with nice strong mug of Three Continents Blend coffee. It was a nice hearty low carb breakfast that will carry us through till dinner time this evening. I snapped a couple quick photos below. Enjoy!



    

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Turkish Meatballs (Köfte) w/ Chunky Eggplant Caviar

This evening I made Turkish Meatballs (Köfte) for dinner. What is Köfte you ask? It's a spiced Turkish style meatball that is usually grilled and often made with lamb or beef. It can be shaped like a traditional meatball or like I did this evening, made into small patties (similar to sliders). It is traditionally pressed and shaped around a skewer into an oblong "log shape" and grilled. There are numerous variations and spices used. 

Since it was freezing cold here today, grilling was completely out of the question. I had picked up ground lamb to make these with but when I opened the package, I almost passed out from the smell, so I had hubby stop by the store on his way home to pick up a package of ground beef to use instead. While I was waiting for him to pick up the meat, I went ahead and put together a quick little tzatziki yogurt sauce to serve with the Köfte. I also made a side dish to serve with them.

I made a Chunky Eggplant Caviar for our side dish. It turned out absolutely amazing. The eggplant was beautiful on the outside and even more so on the inside. It had almost no seeds and had nice solid white flesh. 

To make the eggplant caviar, I diced about 1/4 of a medium onion and began sauteing it in olive oil while I diced the eggplant into small dice and minced a large clove of garlic. When the onions began to soften, I added the garlic and sauteed it for a few minutes, then added the diced eggplant to my pot. Eggplant sucks oil up like a sponge, so I added a bit more olive oil and stirred frequently. As it continued to cook, rather than continuously add oil, I added a few tablespoons of water to my pot and covered it and cooked it until tender, stirring occasionally. I diced half of a red bell pepper and added that to the pot along with another splash of olive oil and covered the pot back up to soften the peppers. When everything was softened and cooked, I added a few heaping tablespoons of some oven roasted tomatoes packed in oil; then seasoned with salt and pepper and covered the pot and continued cooking on low another 15 minutes or so. I added some chopped fresh parsley right before serving. It turned out amazing...it was flavorful, tender and buttery soft and was the perfect accompaniment to the Köfte. I snapped a few photos as well as included the recipe for my Köfte below. Enjoy!










Turkish Meatballs (Köfte)

Ingredients:

1 pound ground lamb or beef
1 teaspoon roasted ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon hot paprika, or to taste (or substitute cayenne pepper)
1/4 teaspoon dried mint
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 cup grated onion
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
3 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons ghee or olive oil

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients, mixing with your hands until evenly combined. Divide mixture into 8 equal sized portions and roll into balls or small patties. Add ghee or oil to a heavy skillet and cook over medium high heat until browned and desired doneness. Alternatively they can be grilled, if desired. Serve with tzatziki or other yogurt sauce, if desired.