Thursday, September 27, 2012

Eggplant Lasagna

As a low carber one of the types of foods we may lament over is pasta dishes. Our very favorite place to spend time away from home is Italy. I've told you already about Mark's favorite meal of all being meatloaf, well neck and neck with that is LASAGNA.... so I had to join the ranks of coming up with a great noodleless make over. I have made several versions of lasagna that were good but when we sat down to this one..... heaven opened, a great light shown, and angels sang!!! ok, ok I'm back.
 I love it when recreating a dish comes out with nothing lacking from the original version. This recipe I developed from merging several others together.
 I think what made a big difference here is I found a great marinara sauce at Wholefoods that is SF, GF, and very LC.

 Rao's Homemade Vodka Sauce. It is kind of like a pink sauce instead of the dark red. I'm sure you can add a little cream or sour cream to another jarred sauce to get the same effect. It simply softened the flavor a bit which added to that velvety feel.
The best thing about lasagna is not just the flavor but those layers that meld together and give that luscious feel in your mouth. I can feel it even now.

You will get every bit of that and seriously, if you did not know there was not a noodle in this dish, it would simply be the best lasagna recipe without question all on it's own. You will never have to apologize with this dish that it does not have the beloved noodle in it. You will only get oooooz and ahhhzzz!!
As with almost any casserole dishe, the leftovers the next day are actually the best, so make extra. Mark and I actually had the leftovers for breakfast. Did I say we are also kinda weird. Now you have it.

China worthy
Ingredients:
2 lg eggplants, 1/2 slices
  olive oil spray
2 cps mozzarella cheese-shredded-(to top it off at end)


Sauce

1 lb ground chicken thighs
2 tsp dried fennel
1/2 lg white onion-diced
12 oz crimini mushrooms
2 24oz jars marinara sauce
1/4 cp red wine
1 TBS garlic powder
1TBS onion powder
1 TBS Italian seasoning
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp crushed red pepper




Ricotta Mixture:

1 15oz ricotta cheese
1/2 cp Parmesan/Romano cheese
1 cp mozzarella cheese
3 lg eggs
3 TBS fresh basil-chopped
 salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven 400
  • Add fennel to ground chicken. Squish with hands to blend well. In a sauce pan brown meat, 1/2 way through add onion. Add the marinara sauce and all of the rest of the sauce ingredients. Simmer while making the rest of the dish.
  • Slice eggplant in 1/2" slices. Easiest with a mandolin slicer. Sprinkle eggplant with salt & pepper. Spray both sides with olive oil spray. Place in 2 large baking sheets and bake until soft 10-15 min. Turn slices halfway through.
  • In bowl combine all ricotta mixture ingredients.
  • Pike Place Market Eggplant
  • Lower oven temp to 350.
  • In 9x13 baking dish spread pasta sauce on bottom. Layer eggplant, ricotta mixture. Repeat. Finish with a layer of eggplant & sauce and top with a layer of mozzarella cheese.
  • Cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Take off foil. Bake another 20-30 minutes. Let rest 15 minutes or more to set up.  

Adapted from: A Pinch of Salt and verious other recipes over the years

Monday, September 24, 2012

Corn Dogs-Firstborn, Firstborn

We went to the Puyallup Fair a couple of weeks ago. I grew up going to this fair and my kids grew up going also. I have probably bought every gadget they have hocked there over my 38 yrs of marriage.
Firstborn, Firstborn
(my firstborn with his firstborn)
A few years ago I even took Peoples Choice 1st place in the international photography competition. I wasn't even able to go that year but sent in my entry.  I hadn't told anyone outside Mark and the kids that I had entered the competition. You send the entry in so long before the judging that I had actually forgot about it. All of a sudden one day I started getting phone calls from friends telling me  "You have a great big 1st place ribbon on your photo"...they actually recognized my son in this photo. (I did not intend on sharing about this photo, however the memory came flooding back as I wrote about the fair....nice memory). Now that we are in the desert more I often miss getting to go.

I digress.....Back to the fair...
Of course every year we ate our way across the fair. One of the treats I looked forward to, of all things, THE CORN DOG!!! I shutter now, although I must say seeing them walking  by got my mouth salivating.
My husband is in Honduras right now, so I am home for a few days on my own. Since the corn dog would not be his treat, I decided to ravage the Internet to see if I could find something that would come close and still be LC, SF, GF.
Many of the online interpretations for LC didn't come close to something I would recommend. Then doing a search on one of my favorite sites....Score!!! Maria always has great recipes she has developed. The  reason she would have a corn dog is because.....she has kids. My kind of house. We always have one, two, three or all four grand kids here so I refer to her site often.
I see that there is a corn dog gadget made specifically for corn dogs. Didn't have one of them lying around BUT...I do have a little Baby Cakes gadget that I got around Christmas last year. Bought them for all the women in our family during one of those blow out sales at Kohl's.                   
Voila!!! Let's try it...
Of course me being me I had to tweak Maria's recipe just a bit.
The Process
Ingredients
2 TBS coconut flour
2 TBS almond flour
2 eggs
4 TBS beef broth
1/2 tsp gelatin
2 beef dogs-(all natural, no nitrites or nitrates)

Preparation:
Heat beef broth & add gelatin, stir to dissolve. Mix all other ingredients except hot dogs. All broth/gelatin mixture, mix well. Set aside to thicken up a minute or two. Cut hot dogs into 1" lengths or however long your procedure accommodates.
Turn on what ever cooking gadget you are using .
When your unit is hot, fill 3/4 full of batter, push corn dog down into middle. Close lid, cook for 4 to 5 minutes depending on the darkness you like.
You can try cooking these in simply oil in a skillet as well. I have not used this method, however I'm  sure it would work with practice
Take out serve with ketchup & mustard or toppings of your choice.

Results: The Baby Cakes gadget worked beautifully. There are many other little gadgets along the same line that would work as well. Experiment with whatever you may have. Of course the "ol skillet with a bit of oil" will work I'm sure.

Friday, September 21, 2012

FYI: Swerve is having a BIG SALE!!!


Swerve has now become what those of us cooking LC,SF and GF are using in much of our recipes.
It measures like sugar, does not have that cooling after effect as some other erythritols or that licorice after flavor of many stevias.  Where we used to blend etythritols with stevia or stevia glicerite in most recipes it is not necessary with Swerve. It is my 1st "go to" for a sweetener now.

Sale through 9/30
                                    


Sale prices will be reflected on final checkout page before you complete purchases as "Promotions Applied"
Learn more about Swerve: Click Here         
Thanks for the heads up Maria         
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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

If it were Green it would be......

So, I have been craving that flavor you get when you cook beans and ham hocks or split pea soup with ham hocks. If you've been following posts you know  I grew up on southern home style cooking. There is just something about that flavor of the smoked pork cooked in the juices of these southern style dishes that if you have a "hankerin" for it, nothing else will do... it just will not go away. Thinking, thinking..... I got it. Tweak the cauliflower soup, it morph's into just about anything.
Did it.... and I am sooooo amazed at how close this was. If it were green, I would have thought I was eating split pea with ham hocks. Close my eyes, I'm there.
I shared a recipe a while back for the Cauliflower Cheese Soup. Here's is a take off, that tastes competely different with the extra flavor of the bacon ends & pieces. This was so rich in flavor and creamy that it did not need the cream added that my orginal recipe used. The Trader Joes Uncured Bacon Ends and Pieces are actually like chunks of ham not sliced bacon so it is perfect for that chunky ham hock effect.
    -A little Trivia: growing up we had our own smoke house and smoked our own ham and bacon from the pigs we raised-
Southern Ham Hock Cauliflower Cheddar Soup
Ham chunks really are in here at the bottom 
Ingredients
2 cps chicken broth
1 lg head cauliflower-cut in large pieces
1pkg Trader Joe's Uncured Bacon Ends -large chunks
2 stalk celery, chunks
1 carrot-chunks (optional)
1 lg onion-chunks
1 cp water-or more to desired thickness
1 cp or more shredded cheddar (I like sharp)
Salt & pepper to taste
garnishes: finishing oils/salts of your choice,  thin sliced leek...the options are limitless 
Praparation:

Add all ingredients except cheese and water to a large pan. Bring to a boil and turn down to a low simmer for 90 mins. Ladle mixture and remaining water into blender and process until very smooth and desired consistency. (May need to do this in 2 batches). Mixture expands so be very careful not to over fill 1/2 way especially if it is hot. Return pureed mixture into saucepan. When hot stir in cheese to taste.
With GF Tamari Roasted Pepita's
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As you know, I love to garnish with flavored oils and salts. I used just a drizzle of lemon oil.
This one I also added a few GF Tamari Roasted Pepita's I get from my health food store. They're a great little snak and adds a great crunch to an aray of dishes.
 
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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Suace

 Mark and I recently took a french cooking class in Woodenville, WA. The chef that instructed the fun class was from the Seattle area as well. We of course asked "what is your favorite restaurant in downtown Seattle"? He said with no hesitation.... Long Provincial on 2nd and Stewart. Well, our condo is literally 1 block from Longs, a place that we have walked right past for 4 years and never walked into. The next night we went. A wonderful Vietnamese restaurant that has now become one of our very favorites. Very intriguing decor and live jellyfish, carved furniture with banana palms.
 One of the most amazing items we love on the menu is the Spring Rolls. Now it is a bit more carbs than I want to have so I decided to recreate it at home..... Drum Roll Please.....These were off the charts and so easy!!!

Spring Rolls
meat filling
1 1/2 lb gr turkey (gr chicken or pork)
1/2 med onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground pepper
1 TBL Thai basil, finely chopped
1 tsp grated fresh ginger

Other Fillings
match stick size slices
crimini mushrooms
green onion or chives
cucumber
carrot-optional (I do not use carrots)
Thai basil leaves
mint leaves
cilantro
Kelp Noodles

Butter Lettuce leaves for rolling

Peanut Dipping Sauce
6 TBL organic natural peanut butter-sugar free1 TBL soy sauce
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
hot water to desired thinness

 
Preparation:  Mix all ground meat filling ingredients in a bowl. The easiest way is to just squish it together with  your hands. Saute over medium heat. Place in a bowl and cool in frig. Cut your other fillings making them like match stick size as much as possible.
Boil water. Put peanut butter into small bowl. Add soy sauce to peanut butter, stir and add enough water to your desired thinness for dipping sauce. (I like to use Trader Joe's Valencia Peanut Butter with Roasted Flax seeds). Refrigerate.
Place a spoonful of the ground meat on 1 or 2 butter lettuce leaves. Add your other fillings. Do not over fill or it will not roll well.  Roll the leaves around the filling. You may want to secure with a bamboo pick or small shish kabob stick.

Serve with dipping sauce in individual small bowls.
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I do not use the rice paper that would be used on the commonly known Vietnamese spring rolls, however you won't miss it with the amazing flavors in these. As for the rice noodles inside, I have discovered the Kelp Noodle. It is exactly a duplicate of a rice noodle without the carbs and calories. It has a slight crunch that is perfect in a spring roll.

Monday, September 3, 2012

List Happy Hour Seattle

So we often find ourselves flying into Seattle after being home in CA for a few weeks to an empty frig and of course no fresh food of any kind. What to do, what to do. Well we have over the last few years discovered the happy hour scene these days is all about the food and less about the drinks like in the past. We have many favorites that I will slowly post about. Most will even custom their happy hour items to suit a low carb intended diet. I say intended because we are quite aware that there may be a bit of sugar or carb here and there slipped in that you are not intending on but for the most part you can do great.
Last night we stopped in at List just 3 blocks from our condo in Belltown. They have a nice small area for outside seating if your lucky enough to get one of the few tables. I am very good at hovering so we do often end up out there when they weather is nice. The food here is fabulous and is not difficult to tweak your order to a low carb fare.         

The sea bass and prawns come on a bed a wonderful garlic kale and white beans. We just ordered no beans, extra kale.
Now these are just small plates so you want to order several, but if you are there for happy hour the price is accommodating.
These were great small plates to share.  All in all it was a very good choice when we find ourselves needing to eat at a restaurant which we do often with as much as we travel. They key is be creative, most restaurants will work with you. So, happy hour at List is from 4 to 6:30/9pm-midnight and Sunday-Monday all day. A great find.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Zucchini Noodles & Homemade Chicken Sausage

I went out and ran home with a Zucchini noodle maker yesterday. It is actually a french fry maker so the noodles are a little larger. I was not sure we would like it as well as the one that makes a smaller version but it was on sale for 14.99 at Sur La Table. We found we LOVE it. I actually have another one on order from Amazon that will be here next week however since I live in two locations I decided to go ahead and try this one out. I am so glad I did.
I also brought home organic ground chicken and decided to make sausage out of it and toss together a stir fry just to try out the new zucchini noodles.... WOW!!! The chicken sausage was so easy to put together and had the exact sausage taste you would expect from your favorite breakfast sausage.
It was an amazing dish together. Mark loved it so much he was looking through the frig today for lunch hoping there were leftovers. I had to promise to make it again soon.
Mark loves the flavor of the Jimmy Dean Maple flavored sausage and I like sausage with a little kick so I went looking for ways to recreate it. I think this first try is my keeper. We both felt this combination it hit the target.


Housemade chicken sausage & zucchini noodle stir fry

Homemade Chicken Sausage

1 lb ground chicken
1tsp fennel seed
3/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp dried chili peppers
1/4 tsp heaping gr all spice
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 TBS sugar free maple syrup


Zucchini Stir Fry

4 med zucchinis
1 med white onion
1 lb crimini mushrooms

Preperation: With hands mix all sausage ingredients together so herbs are blended.
Brown sausage in non stick skillet or wok. Take out and set aside. Add Zucchini to pan, toss for about 1 min add mushrooms and onions. Stir fry for 1 min and add back in sausage. Continue cooking until desired doneness on vegetables. We like our a little al dente.

 variations: can use any combination of stir fry veggies