Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Oven Fried Tilapia Cakes with a Secret Ingredient

 

I had such a wonderful birthday weekend! My family and I traveled to my home town for the weekend.  It was more of a work trip for my husband since he had some students participating in an honor band at the local university.  It was so fun for me to watch him work at the same college where we attended as students.  He even got to guest lecture a music class taught by the man who taught him while he was student teaching!

On Friday, the University's own Pride of Dixie Marching Band gave their President's Concert:   Some of our old friends and some of my husband's former students participated in the concert, and they all did an amazing job! If you are close to a university, I highly recommend attending band concerts and theater productions.  Often, they are professional quality for way less than you'd pay at a symphony or on Broadway. It makes a pretty good date night if I do say so myself!




After the concert, we went to a late dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, City Hardware.  I love the atmosphere of that place! It overlooks the main downtown street and is filled with old fixtures and reclaimed wood.  They had live entertainment, who happened to be another former student.  I'm telling you, if you don't know the name Rachel Wammack now, you will soon. (Visit her website here.) This girl is an amazing singer/songwriter.  You should definitely check out her album "Lavender" on iTunes (Track number one is my favorite!!).



As we sat down to order, I was so excited.  I had decided to give up my low carb diet for the weekend and fully enjoy all my favorite hometown foods, including City Hardware's crab cakes! I placed my order and anxiously awaited the arrival of my dish. 

When it came to the table, I cut into it with my fork and took a bite.

It was good.

But...

"Mine are better," I told my husband. 

He took a bite.

"Yep. Much," he replied.

It's official, y'all.  I've spoiled myself. I ate nearly every bite, but it just wasn't the same.  I still highly recommend the restaurant, though.  So much great food! When we got back home Sunday, I took some tipalia out of the freezer to thaw for Monday night's dinner.  After the crab cakes from a few nights earlier, I was really craving these fish cakes. 

When I've made them before, I've fried them, but that takes a lot of time that I'd rather not spend standing over a hot stove, especially when it's hot outside.  I decided to oven fry them this time instead.  I also threw a secret ingredient into the mix.  I am always trying to get my family to eat more vegetables.  What better way to get them to eat them than by hiding them inside a favorite meal? Believe it or not, there is an entire zucchini inside these bad boys! Even my zucchini-hatin' hubby couldn't tell.  Wife Win!


Ingredients
4 tilapia fillets
1 zucchini
 2 eggs
quart-sized bag of pork rinds, crushed
additional crushed pork rinds for coating
1/2 c shredded parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil spray (or cooking spray)

Directions
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Sprinkle tilapia with salt and pepper. Broil the tilapia for four minutes on each side. While the fish is cooking, shred the zucchini.  I just use a cheese grater, and it works perfectly.  I grate it directly onto a dish towel.  Once the zucchini is grated, I pick up the whole dish towel and squeeze out as much juice from the zucchini as I can.  It needs to be really dry in order for the cakes to hold their shape.  

Combine the shredded zucchini, crushed pork rinds, and parmesan cheese.  Gently fold in the tilapia fillets and add the eggs, stirring well to coat the mixture with the egg.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place the fish mixture into the fridge to cool.  I usually leave it 5-10 minutes.  Form the mixture into 2 inch balls and roll them in the crushed pork rinds.  Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and flatten them slightly.  Spray the tops with the olive oil.  Bake at 375 for ten minutes, flip the cakes over, spray the other sides, and continue baking for ten more minutes.
 

One thing I will say for City Hardware is that they make a killer remoulade sauce.  I looked up a few recipes to try to make my own, but I didn't have the required ingredients.  I made up my own spicy sauce instead. I mixed up some mayonnaise, ketchup, a little mustard, a bunch of hot sauce, and some lemon juice.  I stirred in some Tony's creole seasoning, garlic powder, and onion powder.  I basically just mixed and added until it tasted the way I wanted.  Apparently, it was pretty good, because my husband has requested that this sauce be a staple in our fridge for burgers and pretty much anything else.


I so enjoy taking my favorite dishes and making them healthy.  It makes me feel like I am really taking care of my family!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Zucchini Alfredo Bake


So tomorrow is my birthday! I am going out of town with my husband for the honor band concert, so I'll be straying at my mom's house since she lives up there. I have made some birthday dinner requests, and none of them are low carb... But that's what birthdays are for! 

Since we will be out of town for a few days, I know that my perishables will probably not last that long. I tried to use up as many as I could in dinner tonight, and I really surprised myself- not only with how many veggies I could fit into a casserole dish, which was impressive in its own right, but also how delicious it could be.  

I know I've said it before, but I will continue to say it: A low carb diet is really the diet for me. I mean, on what other diet can I savor the creamy, garlicy, cheesey flavors of alfredo sauce? 

Ingredients
2 zucchini (zucchinis?), sliced or cubed
Several mushrooms, sliced
About a quarter of a big bag of spinach (I told you this recipe consisted of leftovers haha)
4 oz cream cheese (optional- I added it because it was already open and would have gone bad by Sunday)
1/2 jar low fat alfredo sauce
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Directions
Preheat oven to 400.  In a skillet, sautée the mushrooms and spinach in olive oil with seasonings. Add cream cheese and alfredo sauce. Stir until melted and hot.  In a casserole dish, layer zucchini and alfredo mixture, ending with the alfredo. Bake for 20 minutes. To add some color, I topped it with a bit of shredded cheese and broiled it until it turned golden. 

I'm glad I was able to save some of my fresh veggies instead of them going to waste. It also makes me feel good to eat such a veggie-loaded dinner tonight, because I fully intend to enjoy my not-low-carb birthday dinner!!


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Crispy, Zero Carb Egg White Chips





Since I started eating low carb, my friends and family have been sharing recipes and ideas with me to try and create.  This one is from my sister-in-law Jessica.  She found it on Pinterest and sent it to me.  It calls for four egg whites, and I didn't really want to waste four perfectly good egg yolks, so I put it on the back-burner for a while.

On Sunday, my husband got a hankering for a batch of his mom's old chocolate pudding recipe.  He and sweet P set about cooking it and mixing it.  Chocolate pudding was made along side of some pretty sweet memories.


Be still, my heart!






And yes, she is wearing a superhero cape.  All the best chefs do.

The good thing about this recipe is that it calls for four egg yolks.  I had my husband save the whites for me so I could try the cracker recipe. 

I made a few changes to the original directions.  I doubled the amount of the egg white mixture for each cracker and lengthened the bake time. I was pleasantly surprised by how crispy these bites were.  They were great for dipping! The recipe made a ton, so I saved the extra in the refrigerator.  Reheating them was an experiment.  I heated the oven to 350 and baked them for 10 minutes.  They got pretty dark, but they had a great crunch, even more than the day before. My husband thought they were great, and my sweet P kept asking, "More chips, Mama?" What a great way to sneak some extra protein into her diet, and mine, too.




Ingredients (makes appx. 36 chips)
4 egg whites
1 tbsp water (to thin the egg whites)
salt
a small pinch of shredded cheese (for each cracker)

Directions
Preheat oven to 400.  Spray a standard-sized muffin tin with nonstick spray.  Add an equal amount of egg white to each muffin....

compartment? hole?  I never thought about it, but what do you call the spots where you put the muffin/cupcake batter in a muffin tin? Whatever it is, put an equal amount of the eggs in each one.

I used a trick from the original recipe to measure an equal amount for each cracker: a children's medicine dropper.  I measured out 5 mL of the egg for each cracker. It completely coated the bottom.  I topped them off with just a tiny sprinkle of cheese.  I tried some in the first batch without, and they just didn't do as well, further proving my theory that cheese makes everything better. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. 

For my dip, I mixed some mayo with my favorite Kernal Season's Ranch seasoning.

These little snacks are high protein and virtually ZERO carbs.  Can't beat that!

Lemon Garlic Shrimp with Zucchini Noodles


I found the inspiration for this recipe from one on Pinterest. It calls for an entire stick of butter, so the original poster warns that this recipe isn't diet friendly... 



Nope. 

Bring it on. 

Ingredients
One stick of unsalted butter!!!!
1 lb shrimp, tails removed
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Salt
Pepper
Lemon juice
1/4 c chicken broth
1 zucchini per person, turned into noodles using a veggetti

Directions
Melt 2 tbsp butter in a hot skillet. Add shrimp and cook until white. Set aside. 

Add seasonings and lemon juice to taste. Add chicken broth. Simmer to reduce. Add in remaining butter one tbsp at a time until melted. 

Add shrimp and zucchini noodles. Heat through and serve immediately. 

Garnish with a lemon slice and parsley if desired. 





Friday, April 17, 2015

Chicken Philly Soup


Rain, rain, go away! That pretty much sums up how I feel about Alabama in the spring. It has rained every day for a week solid! But, these rainy, dreary days are perfect for staying home and snuggling up with family. They're also perfect days to enjoy a bowl of soup! 

When I was cooking this soup, I took a shot of my peppers and mushrooms sautéing in a separate pan and posted it to my Instagram page. 



Like I said, I'm the only one who eats them. I was surprised how many of my followers were in my same boat.  Oh, well. More for us!!

I kind of felt bad for my husband. Without the peppers and mushrooms, he literally just ate chicken in the broth. I could have been nice and made some rice for him to put in it or some noodles, but I was tired and dinner was dinner. Maybe next time!

I, however, enjoyed my chicken philly soup, complete with all its ingredients. I just added my extras at the end. 

This is a good recipe to make if you have leftover chicken that you just don't know what to do with or if you have a rotisserie chicken to use. I cooked my chicken breasts in advance so I didn't have to worry about taking the time for them to cook. Anything to save me some time in the evenings to spend with my family!



Ingredients
2-4 c cooked, shredded chicken
6 c chicken broth
8 oz cream cheese
Diced green bell peppers and mushrooms- as much (or as little) as you like
Onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste
Olive oil 
Preferred thickener (I use a cornstarch and water mixture)

Directions
*I'm going to tell you how I'd LIKE to make this soup instead of how I made it the other night.*

In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and add peppers and mushrooms. Sautée until nearly cooked. While the veggies are cooking, bring chicken broth to boil. Drain extra oil from veggies. Add shredded chicken and cream cheese. Mix until cheese is melted. Add chicken mixture into boiling chicken. Simmer for 10 minutes. Thicken with cornstarch. Serve warm. 






Sunday, April 12, 2015

Low Carb Crab Cake Jalapeno Poppers

I've made jalapeño poppers, and I've made crab cakes, but for some reason I never thought to combine them until now. I have been missing out! 

It started because I wanted to make the cakes, but I didn't want to take all the time to fry them. I thought I'd try baking them this time, instead. And since I was baking them, I thought, "Why not try baking them inside a jalapeño?


I used the same recipe as I did for my tilapia cakes only this time I used crab meat. After I halved and de-seeded the jalapeños, I stuffed them with some of the mixture. I sprayed them with some olive oil to make sure they browned up nicely. They baked for 20 minutes at 400 degrees and came out perfectly!


If you don't want to bake them in jalapeños, you can also bake them in a muffin tin to still make them have the "patty" shape. Just make sure to spray the muffin tin with the olive oil spray I addition to the tops. They turn golden and crispy. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Carb-friendly Cheesecake






In the last few months of me going low carb, I have had so much fun recreating my old favorite recipes into low carb, full flavor versions of themselves.  It has allowed me to get really creative with my choice of ingredients and meals.  My favorite thing, though, has been getting to share all of my creations.  Several of my friends also started eating low carb in January in an effort to be more healthy. Passing along all my new recipes and hearing that other people have tried them and they've actually WORKED is amazing. 

On my Accidentally Wonderful Instagram page, a few followers have asked for dessert recipes.  Here's the thing: I don't typically eat dessert.  Sweets have never been my favorite.  I'd much rather have an extra helping of the meal than a treat afterwards.  Also, I hate baking.  Having to be so precise and measure everything is just not me.  I'm more of a "let's throw everything in here and see how it turns out" kind of person.  However, in keeping in my new attitude of branching out, I thought I'd give a dessert a shot.

I really didn't know what I was doing, but sometimes the most wonderful things happen by complete accident.

Ingredients
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 package sugar-free Vanilla instant pudding
1 cup milk
Sugar-free chocolate syrup (optional)

Directions
Combine cream cheese, pudding mix, and milk.  Use a hand-mixer to blend ingredients together. Spread mixture into a round cake pan or 4 small ramekins. Chill for at least an hour.  Top with chocolate sauce. Serve.

The pudding mix creates a super creamy texture and just a hint of vanilla.  It would be good with chocolate pudding mix, too, I think! The best part about this was that I didn't  have to bake! I still got to just throw everything in and see how it turned out!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Roasted Eggplant Bisque


I have been in such a soup mood recently. Even though it's springtime and even though the highs have been in the 80s this week, there is just something so comforting about a bowl of warm soup. 


The last time I went grocery shopping, I picked up another eggplant. I am loving all the new foods being on a low carb diet has gotten me to eat. Eggplant has quickly risen to the top because it's just so versatile. I've made eggplant Parmesan, eggplant croquettes, and now roasted eggplant soup with carrots and mushrooms. Low carb, paleo, vegetarian... I think I've pleased all the major food "groups" with this dish. 


Ingredients
(Now, I only made enough for me since I knew my husband wouldn't want it. Also because I only had part of one eggplant left over. I'm going to write the recipe the way I made it, but feel free to double it to serve more!)

One egg plant, halved
10 baby carrots (or one big carrot, cut in quarters)
3 mushrooms, sliced
Olive oil
Garlic powder
Onion powder
2 c vegetable stock (can use chicken broth if you'd rather)
1/4 c almond milk (or regular milk)
Salt and pepper
Tony's seasoning (optional)


Directions
Place eggplant, carrots, and mushrooms in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and add onion powder and garlic powder. Roast in 400 degree oven for 40 minutes. 

Carefully scrape out eggplant pulp and discard the skin. Place eggplant, carrots, and mushrooms into a pot with 2 cups of vegetable stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes until most of the liquid is gone. 

Slowly pour soup into a blender. Purée until there are no large pieces. Pour back into pot. Add almond milk. Simmer lightly. Add more vegetable stock or almond milk to this as needed. Season to taste. Ladle into bowls and top with sliced mushrooms and parsley if desired. 



Even my two year old loved this soup. It is loaded with veggies and incredibly healthy. It is so rich and creamy. Just the one bowl was enough to fill me up. And look at that color!! Gorgeous!! This is definitely a soup I'll be making again... Just maybe when it's a little cooler outside!


Spinach Dip Chicken Breasts

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend! Easter Sunday happened to be the last day of our Spring Break, so we definitely made the most of it. We just celebrated as a family of three, but I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. I am blessed to have the most wonderful husband and daughter I could ever have hoped for.

For Easter dinner, I opted not to make the traditional ham that I think most everyone else makes. My grandmother had cooked one when we went up to visit over the break, and I was not about to try to follow that performance! I had chicken already thawed in the fridge, so that became our Easter dinner. 

I baked the chicken and topped it with a creamy spinach made with Neufchâtel cheese. It tasted absolutely incredible and only took about 40 minutes from start to finish, leaving me plenty of time to spend with my family.


Ingredients
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained
8 oz Neufchâtel cheese
1/4 c milk
Onion powder 


Directions
Preheat oven to 375. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken. Bake for 15 minutes. 
While chicken is baking, combine spinach, cheese, and milk. Heat until mixture is melted and bubbling. Add onion powder, salt, and pepper to taste. 


When the chicken has baked for 15 minutes, remove from oven and top with spinach mixture. Top with shredded cheese. Bake for 15 more minutes. 


This was such a good meal. And even better company. And an ever better reason to celebrate! Happy Easter, everyone. Christ is risen!


Monday, April 6, 2015

Low Carb, Oven-fried Drumsticks with Lemon Cream Sauce


This was a really fun recipe to create! It was a blend of two Pinterest inspirations. I used drumsticks because they were on really good sale, but plain old boneless chicken breasts would be great, too!

For the chicken, I actually used crushed pork rinds and parmesan to make a crust. I kind of felt weird combining the pork rinds and the chicken... I don't know, something about mixing meats... But it's delicious so I got over it pretty fast. 

Ingredients (for chicken)
1 quart size ziploc bag filled with plain pork rinds, smashed
1/2 c grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper
4 drum sticks or chicken breasts
Olive oil spray

Directions
Preheat oven to 375. In a gallon size ziploc bag, combine crushed pork rinds and parmesan. Coat drumsticks with salt and pepper. Place in ziploc bag. Shake well to coat. Spray with olive oil. Bake for 35-45 minutes until chicken reaches an internal tempurature of 165. 

While the chicken is baking, make the lemon cream sauce. This stuff is amazing!! Next time, I think I'll double the recipe, especially if I'm making chicken breasts. If you're not doing low carb, I bet it'd be amazing over some orzo pasta!! Or cauliflower rice, if you'd prefer!

Ingredients
1 c chicken broth
1 c whole milk
3 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Thickener of choice (I just use cornstarch)

Directions
Bring broth to boil. Stir in milk and lemon juice. Season to taste and thicken if desired. 

I also sautéed some mushrooms to add to the dish because, let's face it, I pretty much will add mushrooms to any dish that sits still long enough for me to add them. This was such a simple dish, but it's absolutely satisfying and delicious.