I am thrilled to bring you this great article by very talented writer Amelie William. She has some fantastic ideas that I know I will be using as I redecorate my home, and hopefully you will, too!
Friday, February 27, 2015
Thursday, February 26, 2015
Ruby Tuesday has an amazing fried green bean appetizer that I love but can't have on a low carb diet. Time to make my own!
Fresh green beans
1 large egg
2 tbsp almond milk
2 tbsp coconut flour
Salt and pepper
Oil for frying
Heat the oil in the skillet on medium heat. In one bowl, combine milk and egg. In a second bowl, combine the flour, salt, and pepper. Coat a green bean in the egg/milk, then the seasoned flour, and then the egg/milk again. Fry in hot oil until golden on all sides.
These made a perfect afternoon snack!
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
When I first announced that I was going to try a low carb diet, I was met with this line more often than anything else: "But you're ALREADY skinny! Why do you need to be on a diet?"
Here's the thing.
There is a definite difference between being "skinny" and being "healthy." And really I wasn't either of those two things.
Granted, I wasn't significantly overweight, but I weighed more than I ever had before. I just knew how to hide it well with a tall frame (I'm 5' 10"), flowy shirts, and cardigans. But the fact that my stomach was a little... let's say... more jiggly than I'd like, was not my reason for going low carb.
I was always tired. I felt like I needed a nap after work every day. That's not a good feeling when you have a super active toddler running around!
I was also sick... a lot! My stomach always seemed to be churning or bloated, and I just felt gross.
Not only that, but I happen to have a starch allergy. Potatoes, breads, pastas... they make me cough and get really congested.
So there's me: tired and bloated and congested... still think I don't need to change how I eat since I'm "already skinny"?
I promised myself that after New Year's, I was going to make a change. Now, I don't actually like the term "diet" in that I'm "dieting." I use the term to describe what I eat. My diet consists of lots of veggies and protein. No bread. No potatoes. No pasta.
A friend is on a paleo diet, and one thing that diet stresses is "non-scale victories:" what successes have you had since you started eating better that have nothing to do with weight-loss?
See, dieting just for weight-loss was not my goal. Yes, I wanted to lose some weight, but more than that, I wanted to be healthy. Since I've started eating low carb, my energy is up. I'm not sick or bloated all the time. I can stay up with my husband and run around after my daughter. My skin is clearer, and my hair is thicker and more shiny. And, yeah, I've lost some weight and dropped two pants sizes. I'm back into my pre-pregnancy clothes for the most part, which feels awesome. But more importantly, I feel awesome! And it has nothing to do with the scale.
"Dieting" would be using artificial sweetener. It would be buying those 100 calorie snack packs of Oreo cookies or whatever. It would be nuking a Lean Cuisine every day for lunch. I'm doing none of those things. Instead, I am eating breakfast. I am sautéing veggies. I'm using honey instead of processed sugars to sweeten foods. I'm eating the same amounts, just of different and better things.
So no, I don't need to be on a "diet" in that sense of the word. But I do need to better myself. I do need to eat healthy foods. I do need to be healthy. And that's far more important than anything the scale can do for me.
So no, I don't need to be on a "diet" in that sense of the word. But I do need to better myself. I do need to eat healthy foods. I do need to be healthy. And that's far more important than anything the scale can do for me.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
I whipped this up last night to have for lunch at work today. It reheated very well, and would have been even better fresh.
The options for ingredients for this dish are virtually endless. For mine, I used bacon, cheddar, mushrooms, and green bell peppers.
I got my oven-safe mug at Publix. I love it because it also came with a lid (not oven-safe) that makes it perfect to carry to work. I greased the mug and scrambled two eggs directly in it. To the eggs, I stirred in my meat, cheese, and veggies. I used a lot of veggies in this the egg pretty much acted like a glue to hold them together.
I baked the mixture at 375 for 25 minutes. It came out fluffy and light.
To reheat it for lunch today, I put it in the microwave for one minute. It was so easy and fast and the students didn't have to wait on me for my lunch to cook.
Sunday, February 22, 2015
We had our first small group meeting of the new year tonight at church. It started at 6:30, so at 4:00, I knew I needed to get started on dinner so we could be there on time. Y'all, this dish was so quick and easy, I could have waited so much longer. Literally twenty minutes, start to finish. For steak. And shrimp. And it was so good!
4 tbs butter, separated
4 thinly sliced steaks
16-20 small shrimp
1 c almond milk
1/2 c grated parmesan
salt and pepper to taste
1 whole zucchini, sliced into wedges
Preheat the oven to 450. Arrange zucchini on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan and garlic powder.
In a skillet, heat two tablespoons of butter until bubbling. Salt and pepper both sides of the steak. Place steak in hot butter. Cook on one side for 5 minutes. Flip steak over and cook a couple minutes more. Remove from heat.
By now, the oven should be heated. Roast the zucchini for 15 minutes.
Remove the steak from the skillet. Add the shrimp and two more tablespoons of butter, salt, and pepper. Allow the skillet to return to temperature. Once the butter is sizzling, add almond milk and parmesan. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Cook until shrimp is white and opaque. Remove from heat. Sauce will thicken as it stands.
Once the zucchini is finished, plate the veggies in a row, place a steak on top, and top that with the shrimp and parmesan sauce. A restaurant-quality dish in very little time. Sure beats running out to get fast food!
This was a rainy Sunday morning. Sweet P slept in until 8:00 (woo hoo!), but woke up with a cough, and she's been so sick recently, I didn't want to get her out in the weather. So we had a relaxed morning, which is pretty rare in this household!
I made eggs for everyone for breakfast: Sweet P had hers scrambled with cheese, I fried an egg over easy for my husband to have with a toasted English muffin, and I made one of these oven omelettes for me.
First, I sliced and sauteed some green bell pepper and a few mushrooms in a tablespoon of butter with salt and pepper. I allowed these to cook while I preheated my oven to 400 degrees. I wanted as much of the water from the veggies to boil away- nobody likes soggy eggs! Once the oven was heated, I put the sauteed veggies in the bottom of a greased ramekin. I broke an egg very carefully over the veggies, sprinkled it with salt, pepper, and parmesan, and placed it in the center rack of the oven. I baked it for 15 minutes, and it came out absolutely perfect. The yolk was so creamy!
These little guys are perfect if you are serving a crowd or just yourself. Everyone gets there own individualized ramekin omelette. You could add diced ham or sausage or bacon, more cheese, different veggies... really the possibilities are endless. Plus, they just look so pretty, and in my opinion, food should look as good as it tastes! In my family, food is an experience, from cooking to eating. I love feeding my family healthy foods, especially when they're as easy as this!
Saturday, February 21, 2015
There are so many recipes out there for cauliflower tots, pizza crusts, and breadsticks. After looking up several of them, I came up with my own version. This is thin like a pizza crust, but loaded with seasonings, slathered in melted butter, and roped with parmesan. I felt so guilty eating this until I remembered that there is not a single ounce of bread on the whole thing, and I was actually eating a serving of veggies!
Small head of cauliflower
1/3 c grated Parmesan
1/2 c shredded mozzarella
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs butter, melted
Cut the florets off the head of cauliflower and place into a food processor. Chop until the cauliflower is in very small "rice-sized" pieces. Place in bowl, season with salt and pepper, and microwave uncovered for 6-8 minutes, until the cauliflower is cooked. Do not add water; water will come out of the cauliflower as it cooks. Allow the cooked cauliflower to cool for 5 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425.
Place the cooled cauliflower in a towel and ring out as much water as you can. There will be quite a bit. The cauliflower needs to be as dry as possible to make the bread.
Combine the cauliflower, cheeses, seasonings, and egg in a bowl to form a dough. Spread the dough onto a parchment-lined pizza pan. Shape into a flat circle.
Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Carefully, flip the cauliflower over using a second layer of parchment paper (I laid it over the cauliflower, picked up both top and bottom pieces, and flipped). Spread with melted butter and top with extra garlic powder and parmesan cheese. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Serve with marinara sauce for dipping.
There is nothing as comforting as a big bowl of "pasta"... Except when it's also good for the waistline!
For the squash-
1 spaghetti squash
For the filling-
Alfredo sauce (jarred or MYO)
12 Meatballs (frozen or MYO)
Four slices of mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 400. Cut the spaghetti squash in half and remove the pulp. It's kind of tough, so be careful. Add seasonings to the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish. Rub olive oil on the flesh of the squash. Place flesh-side down into the seasonings. Add water until it comes up about 1/2 inch on the sides of the squash. Roast in oven for 40 minutes.
Halfway through cooking time, sautée a handful of spinach in olive oil with some salt and garlic powder. Once cooked, add the alfredo sauce to the same skillet (I used jarred this time because it was faster, but I have a great recipe for alfredo sauce a few posts back). Heat the Alfredo sauce and then add meatballs (I used frozen; seriously, this was such an easy meal). Cook for the remaining time on the squash. Once the squash is finished, carefully remove it from the oven. Most of the water will have evaporated, but be careful not to spill it. Remove the squash from the dish, dump out the water, and return the squash to the dish, flesh-side up. Shred some of the spaghetti squash. Pour half of the Alfredo, spinach, and meatballs in each half. Top each with two slices of mozarella cheese, completely covering the filling. Broil until cheese is bubbly and golden. Garnish with Italian seasoning.
This soup is so creamy and delicious, you'll swear it must be cheat day!
4 c almond milk
2 chicken bullion cubes, smashed
8 oz Neufchâtel cheese
3 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1 tbs cornstarch mixed with water to make a milky consistancy
1/4 c bacon bits
1/2 c shredded cheddar
Dry ranch seasoning packet
Salt and pepper
Heat almond milk and bullion until boiling. Reduce heat to simmer and add Neufchâtel cheese, stirring until melted. Add the ranch packet. If too thin, bring back to a boil and add cornstarch mixture, stirring well. Add chicken, bacon bits, and shredded cheddar. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with extra cheddar and bacon bits.
Sunday, February 15, 2015
My husband and I are in the process of redoing our kitchen. One thing that had to go were the horrible vertical blinds over the patio doors. We took them down to paint and never put them back up. We also never replaced them with anything. The biggest problem I kept running into was that there was no room for a curtain rod. The doors ran into a cabinet.
You can see in this picture what I mean. There was no way a curtain rod could have hung because it wouldn't have been able to be placed where it needed to be.
I found these gorgeous sheer curtains at Old Time Pottery on sale: two panels for $10! I bought two sets. They have dark bronzed rings to hold them onto the curtain rod, but I had another idea.
I originally saw something similar on Pinterest using tabbed curtains. I thought this would work even better.
I used some of the reclaimed wood I was given by a friend when they tore down the deck on the back of their house. My husband cut two boards for me the length of each door.
I used white latex paint to give them white-washed look. I dry brushed a little dark gray over the top so they weren't so bright, and then I sanded them to give them an aged look.
I had a pretty cute helper, too!
I had bought the hooks at Walmart. I eyeballed where they should be placed compared to the rings in the curtains. Unfortunately, I could not find my husband's drill. Fortunately, the wood was aged enough that I was able to screw them in by hand. It took a while, and my arm was burning, but I wasn't about to let a little thing like a lack of power tools keep me from completing my project. I'm that
The boards turned out so well! They are the perfect fit over the doors, and the curtains hang beautifully. I'm thinking about making one or two for the bedroom or entry way for scarves, coats, and accessories. Even a small board with a single hook would look nice! The uses for these boards are virtually endless. And I am so glad to finally have one project for the kitchen COMPLETELY finished!
Valentine's Day Brunch- Tilapia Cakes over a Fried Egg topped withSautéed Spinach and Hollandaise Sauce
To celebrate Valentine's Day yesterday, I wanted to make a special brunch for my husband. We had 3:00 reservations for a late lunch / early dinner. Brunch was perfect to tide us over.
I already had the fish cake (find the recipe here) left over from dinner a few nights ago. I had an idea to dress them up for a special brunch by putting them on a fried egg with sautéed spinach and Hollandaise sauce.
To reheat them, I put them in a cool oven, heated the oven to 350, and when it reached the temperature, I turned the oven back off and let them sit until I was ready for them.
Now, I love Hollandaise sauce, and it's really quite simple to make homemade. Here are those directions:
3 egg yolks
1 tbsp lemon juice
8 tbsp (1 stick) butter
Salt to taste (only if you are using unsalted butter)
Melt the stick of butter over low heat. You do not want the butter to boil.
While the butter is melting combine the egg yolks and lemon juice in a blender. Blend on high for about three minutes.
Turn the blender to low and slowly add the butter. Once the butter is added, blend for about thirty more seconds.
To fry the egg, heat a half tbsp butter in the skillet over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, make sure the entire bottom of the skillet is coated in a thin layer of butter. Crack the egg in a separate bowl to make sure no shells get in it. Pour the egg slowly into the skillet. I seasoned mine with sea salt and dill. Allow the egg to fry for about three minutes until the edges are curled and starting to brown and the white is no longer runny. Carefully flip the egg and fry for 20 more seconds for a runny yolk or 35 seconds for a done yolk.
To sautée the spinach, I added a few leaves into the skillet where the egg had been cooking and cooked it until it wilted.
To plate, I placed the fried egg, put the fish cakes on that followed by the spinach, and finally the Hollandaise sauce.
It's a fancy looking dish that doesn't require that much work provided you have leftover fish cakes.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine's Day! I sure did :)
Thursday, February 12, 2015
In my search for low carb recipes, I have been neglecting some of my favorite dishes. Take my tilapia cakes, for example. I used to make these rather frequently, but, being full of potatoes and breadcrumbs, they've been off-limits on my new low carb lifestyle.
I researched several recipe ideas on how to make these low carb. Coconut flour, almond flour, ground up flax seed crackers... Nothing seemed right.
When my mom came into town last weekend, I ran an idea past her. "What do you think would happen if I breaded something in **** *****?" She was cautious, as I would have been had someone approached me with the idea. "I guess you'll just have to try it and see how it goes."
I tried it with these tilapia cakes.
Here's how it goes:
Any idea what that is?
It's crushed pork rinds.
Yep. I breaded them in pork rinds.
And you know what?
It. Worked. Perfectly.
So here is my new and improved tilapia cake recipe.
4 tilapia fillets
4 tbs mayo
2 tbs parmesan cheese
1/4 c crushed pork rinds (trust me) + extra for breading (I used the hot and spicy kind from Aldi. They have a great flavor!)
Tony's Seasoning (all seasonings are to taste)
Olive oil for frying
Cook tilapia fillets by sprinkling them with salt and pepper and broiling them for 5 minutes on each side.
While the tilapia is cooking, combine mayo, parmesan, seasonings, pork rinds, and the egg.
Break apart the fish fillets and fold them into the mixture.
Form 2" balls with the fish mixture and roll them into more crushed pork rinds. I was able to make 12 portions.
The mixture will be warm from the hot fish. I have found that things tend to fry better when they are cooler. I put the fish balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet in the fridge while I started the cauliflower. It's the same cauliflower as the shrimp and "grits" recipe in an earlier post. I left the fish in the fridge for about 5 minutes while my oil heated up- just long enough for them to cool down.
You will need enough oil to cover half the fish cake. Heat the oil over medium-low heat. You don't want the oil to be too hot because the pork rinds will burn easily. Once the oil is hot, place the fish balls into the oil without overcrowding the skillet. I could fry four at a time. Use a spatula to flatten the balls to about 3/4" thick. Fry on each side for 5-7 minutes until golden brown.
Allow to drain and cool on a paper towel.
I paired these with a creamy dill sauce. The cool sauce was the perfect accent to the hot, spicy fish cakes.
2 tbs mayo
2 tbs sour cream
1 tsp dill
1/2 tsp lemon juice
Salt to taste
Combine all ingredients and season to taste. Use more or less dill depending on personal preference.
The best part about these fish cakes is that they tasted even better than my original recipe. The crispy, spicy pork rinds added an awesome flavor that was missing before. And the texture was amazing. My favorite "diet" foods are those that make me feel like I'm not on a diet at all. And these definitely fit that category!
Monday, February 9, 2015
Even though it was warmer today, a comforting bowl of hot soup was just what I needed to be the perfect end to my day. And at >5g carbs per serving, it's even more perfect!
1 small head of broccoli
8 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded
1 c whole milk
2 c chicken stock
1 tbs cornstarch, combined with 1 tbs water
Preheat oven to 425. Cut the florets off of the head of broccoli. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder. Roast for 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine milk, stock, and shredded pepper jack. Heat over medium heat until cheese is melted. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Add the cornstarch while stirring. Reduce heat to medium. Add three dashes of nutmeg. Add the broccoli. Use an immersion blender to chop the broccoli pieces (if you don't have an immersion blender, simply chop the broccoli very fine and then add). Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve in your favorite bowl.
I have made broccoli soup before, but usually, I boil or steam the broccoli first. I love the flavor of roasted broccoli. I knew it'd pair perfectly with the pepper jack, and the little bit of nutmeg at the end just sets it off. The hot soup and spicy cheese will warm you up quickly on a cool February evening.
Friday, February 6, 2015
As I said when I posted this on Facebook, I wish this photo was scratch-and-sniff! It smelled so good while it was baking, and the taste was even better.
Ingredients (4 servings)
2 small zucchinis, sliced
3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
4 oz cream cheese
1/2 c salsa verde
1/4 bell pepper, diced
Onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, cumin, and paprika (about a tsp of each; I never measure seasonings).
1/2 c shredded cheese
Preheat oven to 375. Combine chicken, cream cheese, and salsa in a pot. Heat until cheese is melted and the mixture is warmed throughout. Season to taste.
Sautée the zucchini in a drizzle of olive oil with salt, pepper, and garlic powder until almost done. Remove the zucchini and sautée the bell peppers until soft. Add bell peppers to the chicken mixture.
Place a layer of zucchini slices in the bottom of an 8x8 casserole dish.
Top with chicken mixture.
Layer the rest of the zucchini on the chicken mixture. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Top with shredded cheese and broil until cheese is bubbly.
Serve with sour cream and extra salsa.
Thursday, February 5, 2015
A few weeks ago, I made some incredible stuffed mushrooms with feta, bacon, and spinach, so when I set out to make a mushroom bisque, I knew what flavors would make the perfect addition. Since I'm the only one in my family who eats mushrooms, I just made a small recipe, but this could easily be doubled. This one made about two large servings.
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
4 tbs butter
2 c chicken broth
1/4 c whole milk
Garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste
Feta cheese, crumbled
Melt the butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sautée until soft and brown. Add chicken broth and allow to simmer uncovered for about five minutes. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth. (If you don't have an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender or a food processor.) Remove from heat and add the milk. Season to taste. Top with feta and bacon bits, as much or as little as you want.
Who says healthy can't be tasty!?
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
It was another long day of doctor's offices, pharmecies, and a very sick little girl. On top of the flu, which she can no longer be treated for because of a reaction to Tamiflu, my poor girl has a double ear infection. She's so pitiful.
After how long today has been, it would have been so easy to have ordered a pizza or gone to pick up fast food. I just wanted something quick, easy, and comforting. Pizza did sounds pretty good.
I've seen recipes for "Meatza," a meat-crust pizza. I figured I'd give it a shot. It kind of sounds weird, but really it's just like a really big, really flat meatball.
1 lb ground turkey
1/2 c shredded parmesan
Mix all the ingredients together by hand.
Spread out on a sheet cake pan or another pan with sides. It doesn't have to go all the way out to the edges. I made mine rounded on the sides and about 1/2" thick throughout. Bake for 20 minutes at 450. Remove from the oven. If there is any grease, blot it with a paper towel. There shouldn't be a lot since this is made with ground turkey. If you use ground beef, there will be much more. You can top your crust any way you want. I made my husband's half with marinara sauce, pepperoni, and shredded cheese. I made mine with alfredo sauce, spinach, mushrooms, and shredded cheese. Return the pizza tithe oven and broil until the cheese is bubbling. The dish is really filling since it's made primarily with meat. My husband and I both only ate two of our four slices.
The best part of the dish was the sweet P managed to eat a little of it- the first real food she's had since lunch on Sunday. Anything she wants to eat, she can have!
I'm staying home with her again tomorrow, so I'll have the leftovers for lunch. I love it when lunch cooks itself!
Monday, February 2, 2015
The Super Bowl means one of two things to me: snacks and/or commercials. Unfortunately, this year it meant an emergency trip to Children's Hospital with my sweet P who ended up having the flu.
But I had already made these jalapeño poppers, so I just stuck them in the fridge in a mad dash out of the house. They reheated pretty well in the oven, but they got a little dark on top, which is why the picture looks like that.
To start, I halved the jalapeños and removed all the seeds. For the filling, I combined a block of cream cheese with a 1/2 c bacon bits (or maybe a little more because, well, it's bacon, and I love it). Then I added garlic powder and onion powder to taste. I stuffed each jalapeño half with about a tbs of the mixture. I roasted them at 450 for 25 minutes, topped them with shredded mozarella, and baked them for about five more minutes, until the cheese had melted.
I had a ton of the cream cheese mixture left, so I added in a bit of sour cream and dipped carrot sticks in it. So good!
I'll make these again, and hopefully be able to enjoy them right away. No more emergency trips to the hospital for my sweet P, thank you!
I know I keep saying that I have a new favorite recipe, but for real this time. This one tops the list. Low carbs; TONS of flavor! I even like it better than the "real thing."
I cheated a little bit with this meal and bought frozen, pre-cooked shrimp. After they thawed, I heated over high heat with two tbs butter and garlic powder, onion powder, Tony's seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste. Once the butter had melted and was bubbling, I added 1/4 c almond milk and 1/4 c grated parmesan so stirred it until it turned into a creamy sauce. If it's too thin, add a bit of cornstarch; if it's too thick, add more almond milk.
For the cauliflower, I cooked it in four cups of chicken broth until it was soft, and I drained the broth. Then I used my immersion blender to purée it. You can also use a regular blender or a food processor. I returned it to medium heat and melted in 1/4 block of cream cheese and a small handful of shredded cheddar, added a handful of bacon bits, and seasoned it with salt and pepper. I heaped a pile of the cauliflower on a plate and topped it with the shrimp and parmesan sauce.
The real test was serving it to my husband. I fixed his plate and brought it to him. By the time I had my plate ready, his was empty. And he HATES cauliflower!! He said, "You have to share this. Everyone needs to know how good this is."
So by my husband's orders, here you go! Enjoy! We sure did.