Friday, April 20, 2018

Microwave Spaghetti Squash

This is a visual guide to making spaghetti squash in the microwave.

Spaghetti squash can be used as a delicious replacement to spaghetti pasta and is a low-carb, gluten-free and keto-friendly ingredient! It has a mild taste and acts as as a great canvass to any flavors that are added to it.

This recipe image is designed for a tablet or phone screen and is meant to serve as a guide while it is being prepared. If you know someone who might need a guide like this, or someone you want to turn onto the magic of spaghetti squash, alert them - share the love!

Eat well, cook often ...

Makes 4 servings, 30 minutes
1. Poke holes, soften
With a sharp knife poke several holes into squash lengthwise. (Creates a line the will be the mark for cutting in half.) Microwave on High 5 minutes to soften squash.

2. Cut-side down, microwave
Place squash half (or halves) in a microwave-safe dish cut-side down. Pour half inch of water in dish. Microwave 15 on high, or until flesh is soft. (Cook times may vary with different microwaves.)

3. Let cool slightly, remove squash
Once squash is cooked through, remove from dish and let cool a little. Carefully scrape strands of squash out of shell with fork and serve.

4. Cut in half, scoop out seeds
Handle with caution, squash may by hot. Along line of holes, cut squash completely in half. With a spoon, scoop out seeds. Season with salt and pepper.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Low-carb Munchies

Diced ham, cheese and almonds will tame the strongest snack cravings.

I stayed true to my "avoid-carbs-if-possible-diet" and purchased what amounts to a protein snack Saturday night.

Meat, cheese and nuts.

The almonds were "smokehouse" flavored and the ham was processed which made this high in sodium but it still helped keep the carb count down for the day, so I'll take what I can get. To wash it down I went with diet tea — 0 carbs.

I wolfed down my protein snack while watching an episode of Law & Order, and it occurred to me that this tasty treat would be a hit at any big-game party or movie watching gathering.

Among the millions of pounds of unhealthy food that lines miles and miles of grocery store shelves there are some alternatives – even for a guy like me that craves man-cave food. These snacks may not be as healthy as celery and carrots, but at least it's not something my body will turn into a mound of sugar that will eventually be stored on my belly, under my chin or across my ass.

Eat well, cook often ...

Smoked ham, cubed
Smokehouse almonds
Munster cheese with jalapeno, cubed

Dump and eat!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Low-carb Chips and Dip

Two sliced cucumbers and your favorite dip! That's all for this recipe!

Ok. They're not really potato chips. They're sliced cucumbers. Once you dip them in this sauce though, the chip won't matter!

I went to a friend's house for a dinner party a couple days ago and decided to take a tray of sliced cucumber and some Sweet Pickle Ranch sauce to dip them in. It was my low-carb chips and dip contribution to a carb-heavy spread of delicious party food.

In truth, I was worried that none of it would get eaten, but the tray went over well and there were just a hand full of cucumber chips left by the end of the night. The best reviews came mostly from the female population at the party, who seemed to like having a healthier option for after-meal grazing as part of the spread. The tray disappeared primarily from people grabbing a slice of cucumber and dredging it in the sauce as they passed by the snack table.

The chips and dip, along with a tray of ham pickle roll-ups (like these) that I made seemed to generate lots of good food conversation throughout the night. I couldn't be happier with how the health-concious snack approach was received.

I'm really starting to enjoy the unique challenge of healthier food in the quest for delicious bites!

Eat well, cook often ...

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Double Turkey Burger Eggplant Stack!

This low-carb mountain consists of sliced eggplant and ground turkey patties  - grilled, stacked and drizzled with my favorite homemade sauce - which for me, in this case, is Sweet Pickle Ranch sauce.

After preparing this breadless-manwhich I realized this could be a featured item at a low-carb Carl's Jr. The only thing missing was a beautiful vixen luring men ages 17 to 34 to buy it.

This is my first attempt at using eggplant in my own kitchen. I have eaten it several times and enjoyed it, but never sought to make it part of a my own recipe collection. I am really pleased with how the eggplant turned out and I am looking forward to experimenting more with it.

I started out thinking the eggplant would work like bread slices and allow me to handle the stack, but cooking it correctly left it too soft to handle and it needed to be eaten with a fork and knife, which was the only thing that slowed this mound of savory yum from entering my belly in record time.

I'm going to refine this for sure - I just thought it was worth sharing.

If you have any great grilled eggplant recipes please send them my way!

Eat well, cook often ...

20 minutes, serves 2
1 Eggplant, medium size, sliced into 1/2 inch-thick discs
1 lb Ground Turkey, pattied
4 slices munster cheese
Favorite burger sauce

Heat grill to medium high. Brush eggplant with olive oil and season to taste. Grill 3 to 4 minutes per side or until cooked through and soft, remove let rest. Grill turkey patties 8 minutes or until cooked through, turning once during cooking. After turn, add cheese to patties and let melt. Remove and rest, 5 minutes. On a plate stack eggplant and burgers, drizzle with favorite burger sauce or dressing, then serve.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Grilled Chicken Salad

I love leftover grilled chicken, the smoky grill flavor stays as long as it’s edible and provides an extra layer of flavor to whatever it’s used in.

This recipe features chicken grilled over charcoal the night before as well as pickled banana peppers in a spread for sandwiches or wraps.

I was in a hurry to work one afternoon when I lived outside of Chicago. I stopped at a gas station that had a pizza counter for a quick meal. Under a heat lamp I noticed a couple of burgers wrapped in foil with a yellow starburst sticker that said “Pizza”. I took a chance, grabbed two and was on my way.

The burgers featured a marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni and a kicker - banana peppers! The tart and spicy peppers had a great flavor of their own and really gave this burger it’s “pizza or Italian” mojo. This tasty treat became a guilty-pleasure for an occasional lunch until I left the area and moved to Austin — and I have kept a jar banana peppers in my kitchen ever since.

In this recipe the peppers impart a tangy and spicy kick and make for a nice compliment to the smoky-grill flavor of the chicken. The chives provide a hint of onion and there is just enough mayo to bind everything together. As a whole, it's a great filler for a sandwich or could hold up as the star of a bite-size appetizer.

To cut carbs I served the chicken salad on cucumber, which provided a garden-fresh vehicle to deliver the goods and made for a nice replacement to carb-loaded bread slices or a wrap.

Eat well, cook often ...

Makes 4 to 6 sandwiches or a party appetizer; 10 minutes
3 C grilled or fully-cooked Chicken, diced or shredded
1/2 C hot Banana Peppers, diced
3 Tbs Mayonnaise
2 Tbs Chives, diced
4 Cucumbers, peeled, seeded, cut

In a large bowl mix together the chicken, banana peppers, chives and mayo until well incorporated, let rest 20 minutes for flavors to meld. Scoop salad into cucumber boats or serve in a wrap or sandwich.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Fish Tacos (Tilapia)

I inhaled six of these like a wale feeding on plankton.

They were the small "street taco" size corn tortillas from Mission. Which helped them go down fast! Dinner on Friday is an event if I'm not going out on the town - and that is just what these are. There are three special elements to make for these and to add to the drama, I fried the tortillas in a 1/4 inch of oil just to take the meal completely over the top.

This is the first time I have used almond flour. It wasn't perfect, but it wasn't bad. Instead of a light crispy breading like AP flour would create, the almond flour created more of a "blackened" style crust when mixed with the other spices. The gluten-flour-to-fat reaction just isn't the same as the ground-nut-to-fat reaction and the result was different and unexpected — And totally delicious.

Eat well, cook often ...

Jalepeño tarter sauce
1/4 Mayo
2 Tbs Pickled jalapeño, diced
1 Tbs Chipotle in adobo, minced

Mix ingredients in a bowl, refrigerate until assembling tacos

Jalapeño slaw
1 C Cabbage, shredded
1 Jalepeño, thin sliced
2 Tbs Apple cider vinegar

Toss cabbage and jalapeño in cider vinegar, set aside until assembling tacos

4 Tilapia fillets
1/4 C Almond flour
2Tbs Chili powder
1 Tbs Cumin
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper

Mix together almond flour and spices, spread on a plate. Dredge fillets in mixture, coating both side thoroughly. In a skillet over medium heat shallow fry fillets in enough oil to completely coat bottom of pan. 3 to 4 minutes per side or until cooked through. Gently turn half way through. Let rest a few minutes before assembling tacos.

12 tortillas
Jalapeño tarter sauce
Jalapeño slaw
Cilantro for garnish

Light fry tortillas in a 1/4 inch of oil at 350°. Drain on paper towels. Flake fish apart into bite-size chunks. On a tortilla, stack fish, slaw and sauce then garnish with cilantro. Serve.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Creamy Spaghetti Squash Bake

This was a treat. I loved it — and it was an experiment! I will be refining this for sure, but it's worthy of a post.

I made this recipe low-carb by using spaghetti squash where I would have used regular spaghetti. The squash worked with the onion and red pepper to form a nice vegetable base and the turkey gave it extra heft in the belly. The star here is the cheese though, specifically - the cream cheese. It's a decadent and rich addition that really binds all the flavors together. Next time I will mix in the cream cheese a little more thoroughly — I used dollops of it in this recipe!

If you like spaghetti squash you have to try this, or a variation of it.

Eat well, cook often ...

1 2 to 3 lb. spaghetti squash
2 red bell peppers, seeded, diced
1 onion, diced
1 lb. of ground turkey (97/3)
2 C Mexican blend cheese, shredded
8 oz. cream cheese, room temp

Cut spaghetti squash in half length-wise and scoop out seeds. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper to taste. Place on a baking sheet and bake in a pre-heated 400° oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove and let cool.

In a large skillet over medium heat cook onion and red pepper in a little olive oil until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Add ground turkey, breaking up and stirring occasionally until cooked through. 4 to 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and let cool.

Scrape spaghetti squash out of shell with a fork and into Turkey mixture, stirring to combine. Stir in 3/4 of the shredded cheese. Scoop mixture into baking dish. Top with dollups of cream cheese and remaining shredded cheese. Bake in a 350° oven for 30 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly. remove from oven and let rest 15 minutes before serving.

Eat well, cook often ...