Low Carb

Sweet Potato Soup with Orange and Avocado

  Cold weather means soups are back on the menu!  Too bad for us G won’t even give soup a chance.  …too bad for him his mama is stubborn as a mule and is gonna keep trying.

1 c sweet potato
1/2 c vegetable broth
1/2 c unsweetened coconut milk
1-2 Tbsp orange juice
a pinch orange zest
salt to taste
1/2 tsp chipotle powder
avocado to garnish
  Chop your (peeled) sweet potato into small pieces and wrap it in a wet dishcloth.  Microwave it for 6 minutes or until soft.  Mash 1 cup and mix into your broth and coconut milk.  Add your juice, spices and zest to taste at this point and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.  Serve topped with avocado.
  We added a bit more orange to this than was in the original recipe.  Ever since the pumpkin chili with orange in it I’ve been kind of drawn to recipes with orange in them.  It’s a nice, fresh flavor that we’ve really been enjoying.  Alas, G was having nothing to do with it.  Something about the idea of soup just doesn’t sit well with him and our little boy who will eat just about anything won’t even try soup.
  Challenge accepted kid.

Apple, Cheddar and Ham Quiche (with Gluten Free Crust)

  We’re attempting to clean out our pantry.  We have a bad habit of stockpiling food like the apocalypse is going to happen tomorrow and then never getting to it before it expires.  We’re also trying to clean out the freezer.  This is another one of those ham recipes I mentioned.  We’re also trying to keep wheat products to a dull roar because I’ve been noticing that more wheat seems to equal more acne (though, of course, it could just be coincidentally lining up with my crazed post-pregnancy, still-nursing hormones).

  How convenient that we had a ton of instant polenta in the cupboard and my Mr. had a plan for using it to make crust then, huh?  Two birds with one delicious stone folks.

6 Tbsp instant polenta
1.5 c water

1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 large apple, cored and cut into 3/4″ chunks
1/4 lb baked ham, roughly chopped
pinch of cinnamon
3 large eggs
1/2 c sour cream
3/4 c milk
1 tsp sea salt
4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
1 Tbsp sage leaves, chopped

  To create the crust, mix your polenta and water together on the stove top.  The polenta should include directions on how to do this.  It will take about 5 minutes for instant polenta.  Once it is combined and heated, grease a pie plate and press the prepared polenta into it.  Bake the crust for 16-20 minutes at 425 degrees on a middle rack in your oven.

  Meanwhile, melt your butter in a medium sized skillet and saute your shallots.  Cook them for around 3 minutes, or until they begin to soften.  Add your apple to the pan, cover and cook for a few moments over medium low heat until the apples just begin to soften.  They will further soften in the oven, so don’t cook them for any longer!  Add your ham and cinnamon and stir to combine.

  In a bowl, combine your eggs, sage, sour cream, milk and salt and whisk. 

  Lower your oven temperature to 325 once the crust has been removed.

  Spoon your cooked apple mixture into your crust, top with cheese and pour your egg mixture over everything.

  Bake the quiche for 30-40 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly before serving.

  So I’ve kind of got 2 reviews to do on this one…the crust alone and the quiche.  Good news, both were awesome!  I’ve always preferred fritattas to quiches, because I wasn’t ever a huge fan of the crust (I know, I know…something wrong with me…) but I love this.  As for the quiche, this recipe is wonderful as well.  It didn’t use up much of our ham, but it was a great use for that small amount.  The original recipe warns to not give in to the temptation to swap it out for bacon.  I know that sounds blasphemous, but the concern is that the bacon flavor will completely overwhelm the taste of the apples.  The ham works perfectly.  It’s a nice counterpoint to the apple’s sweetness without blasting everything with its flavor.  G liked it, we liked it.  It’s a keeper.

Hazelnut, Mushroom and Gorgonzola Eggs

  Today’s recipe came about due to a great over abundance of egg whites when my Mr. was working on perfecting his dairy free creme brulee recipe.  He pulled out some of his usual magic, and this delicious breakfast was born.

1/2 lb Crimini mushrooms
1/4 c hazelnuts
2-3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 c gorgonzola cheese
6 egg whites
salt and pepper

  Melt your butter over medium high heat.  Once the butter is prepared, saute your mushrooms and hazelnuts for around 5 minutes until the mushrooms are browned.  Turn the heat down to medium, add your egg whites to the pan and scramble them with the mushrooms and hazelnuts.  Just before removing from the pan, add your gorgonzola and salt and pepper to taste.

  I didn’t share this with G, just scarfed it down while sort of snarling at anybody who got too close to me, so I can’t vouch for its child-friendliness.  By this point, you probably know if you’re in the “oh god yes, give me more stinky cheese and fungus in my food!” boat or not and can tell if you’ll enjoy this or not.  If you like that sort of thing, you’ll love this.  If not, perhaps try one of the other recipes from the archives.

Chipotle, Avocado and Caramelized Onion Burgers (Paleo)

  Uh oh…seems like I forgot to buy buns again, doesn’t it?  You could, of course, serve this on a traditional hamburger bun, but this dinner doesn’t really need it.

4 Tbsp butter, divided
3 onions, thinly sliced
Sea Salt
10 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 chipotle peppers, seeded and minced (from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce)
1 avocado, sliced
1.5 lbs ground beef
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  Start by heating 2 Tbsp of your butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add your onions and a bit of salt and cook until they become soft.  Reduce your heat to medium low, place a cover on your pan and cook for about half an hour, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn golden brown.  Add the remaining butter, your mushrooms and the peppers.  Cook for around 10 minutes until your mushrooms cook through and your onions are a deep caramel color.
  Meanwhile, add salt, pepper and Worchestershire to your ground beef and gently mix it.  Divide your meat into 6 patties.  Let the patties rest at room temperature while your pan warms to medium high heat and then grill them for 4-6 minutes per side.  Top the burgers with your prepared onions and mushrooms and a few slices of avocado.
  Man I love the paleo/primal trend of putting avocado on everything.  Oh darn, more delicious healthy-fat goodness.  If I have to.  I’ve been slowly phasing wheat out of my diet lately, because I’ve found, much to my chagrin, that I seem to have a mild gluten intolerance.  Certainly not bad enough to make me avoid it forever-at-all-costs, but I’ve noticed a definite connection between how much wheat I’m eating and how badly my face is breaking out.  Cookies?  Worth a zit or two.  Hamburger bun?  Not.  Anyhow, these are really delicious, bun or not, so I’d definitely suggest trying them out the next time you’re looking for something a little different on burger night!

Loaded Nacho Meatballs (Paleo)

  Drat!  My picture for these didn’t turn out nearly as pretty as it ought to have because I had to substitute an ingredient…

1lb ground beef 
1 egg
1/4 c almond flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 c sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
3 Tbsp prepared salsa
1 Tbsp pickled jalapenos, chopped*
1/4 cup prepared salsa
1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
16 pickled jalapeno slices*
2 Tbsp sour cream
*my jalapenos got used for another recipe so I substituted banana peppers.
  Start by combining all of the ingredients above the line into a medium bowl and mixing them well.  Form the mixture into about 16 meatballs and saute them in a large nonstick pan until cooked through (about 4 minutes per side).
  Place your meatballs in an ovenproof dish and top each one with about a teaspoon each of salsa and cheese.  Place everything under the broiler for a minute until the cheese melts.  Remove and top with sour cream and peppers before serving.
  These were pretty good.  I’m not sure that I’ll bother making them again, because they weren’t crave-worthy good, but as I’ve mentioned before, the bar for “nachos” is pretty high in this house.  G really liked them, so they’ve got a chance of a repeat performance on that count, but we’ll see!

Veggie Heavy Beef Stew (Freezer Friendly)

  I love being outside in the fall.  Summer is nice and all, but come autumn I don’t have to worry quite so much about getting sunburned just going to the mailbox, and that tiny chill in the air reminds me to get out and enjoy the sunshine before winter storms in.  That means that the last thing I want to do is go inside and cook dinner in the evenings.  
  Welcome back crock pot.
2.5 lbs beef cut into chunks
2 c beef broth
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
4 oz baby portobello mushrooms, quartered
One small rutabaga, peeled and cut into chunks
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 large onion, diced,
8 oz frozen chopped collard greens, (don’t thaw)
1 Tbsp arrowroot/tapioca powder
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
  Combine all of your ingredients, except for your arrowroot powder in your crockpot and cook for 8-9 hours on low heat.  Shortly before serving, whisk your arrowroot powder together with a ladle of broth from the pot.  Mix it until there are no clumps and return it to the pot.  This will thicken the stew.  Serve hot!
  This is a great, hearty stew with an awesome helping of veggies included.  It always frustrates me when I make a slow cooker main dish and then am stuck cooking up a side anyhow because we need something green with our meat.  Not a problem here!  This will definitely be on the menu again!

Honey Butter Pork Tenderloin

  I don’t have a clever intro for today’s recipe…lets just take a look at this pretty, pretty dinner.
4 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp honey
1 1/2 lbs pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning
1/2 tsp black pepper
3/4 c water
  Start by setting your oven to preheat to 375 degrees.  Use an ovenproof pot to melt your honey and butter together over medium heat.  Season your pork with Cajun seasoning and pepper and brown it on each side for 5 minutes in the honey butter mixture.
  Place your pot into the oven and cook it (uncovered) for 15-20 minutes.  Check your pork to be certain it has reached a safe 145 degrees internally and remove it to a plate (cover it to keep it warm).  Add your water to the pot and return it to the stovetop over medium heat, stirring it to pick up the sauce on the bottom.  Allow to simmer for around 5 minutes and then serve over the sliced pork.
  I love a good, sweet-sauced pork dish and this one is no exception.  The pork stayed nice and juicy and was generally just delicious.  A fairly quick, easy meal and one I think we’ll be making again!

Slow Cooker Coffee Roast (Paleo)

  Now that the days are starting to get shorter, the boys get kind of squirrely in the evenings.  There isn’t ever quite enough time between when they wake up from naps and when it starts getting dark and I need to start cooking dinner to run them around outside and wear them out.  That makes getting dinner on the table when my Mr. is at work late hard.  Thankfully, at least when I know he’s going to be gone late, I can pull out the slow cooker and get dinner going in the morning, before the wee-bits lose their tiny minds.
5-7 lb chuck roast
1 large onion, sliced thin
8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
sea salt, pepper, marjoram
1/2 c coffee (brewed strong)
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 c baby carrots (optional)
 Place your onion slices and smashed garlic cloves into the bottom of your crockpot.  Rub all sides of your roast with salt, pepper and marjoram.  Depending on the size/shape of your roast/crockpot, you may need to cut your roast into smaller chunks to fit.  Place the meat on top of your onions and garlic.
  Brew your coffee and pour it, along with your vinegar, over the roast.  If you’re like me and preparing this first thing in the morning, enjoy the remaining coffee while switching your slow cooker to low.  The roast should cook for around 10 hours.  If you want to add the carrots (I suggest it, they were wonderful) toss them in about halfway through.  Pull the meat apart using two forks and serve with the juices from the pot.
  Gah slow cooked meals are such sweet torture.  This one made my whole house smell downright painfully good all day long.  The meat broke down wonderfully and, as I said, the carrots were incredible.  I did find that this needed a bit of salt after it was cooked…the flavor only really reached the outside portions of the roast, so the inside was a little bland…but perhaps cutting the meat into smaller pieces would help distribute the flavor?  I was surprised by how little I actually tasted the coffee.  The roast absolutely had a great, unique taste…I just expected it to be more mocha than it was I guess.  Anyhow, certainly worth trying on a day you know you’ll want dinner to be taken care of before you even change out of your pjs!

Smoked Sausage, Pepper and Zucchini Foil Packs

  I’m a sucker for foil pouch meals.  Ever since I was a little girl in the Girl Scouts having hobo stew over the campfire, anything cooked wrapped in foil just has an extra bit of appeal to me.  Plus, (and lets be honest here, this is the big reason) foil packs are extremely low maintenance cooking.  Low active-cooking time and no dishes afterwards?  Sign me up!
  Here’s what we’re making:
  Normally I would, of course, give you the source of the recipe.  This one however, I just kind of took inspiration from about 8 different places and changed everything…so…here we go!
Here’s what you need:
14 oz smoked sausage, cut into bite sized pieces*
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 large, yellow onion, chopped
2 medium zucchini, sliced
~3 Tbsp olive oil
garlic salt and pepper to taste
*This makes a fairly veggie heavy meal.  If your family is carnivorous add more sausage.
  Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees.  If you’re a slow chopper like me, it should be ready to go by the time your veggies are prepared.  Once it’s sliced, place everything into a large bowl, top with olive oil and mix to coat and distribute the spices.  When everything is combined, divide your mixture into foil packages, crimping the edges shut to seal everything inside.  Cook the packs for 30-40 minutes, depending on how soft you want your vegetables.  Remove the packs from the oven and carefully open them, keeping a hot pad between the opening and your hand to deflect steam.  Allow to cool a few moments before serving.
  I cooked ours for 30 minutes.  I think next time I might do a few minutes more.  We like our veggies to still be a little crunchy, but I could have done with just a touch softer.  This is a nice, simple meal and a great way to get a whole bunch of veggies on your plate without much work.  G, of course, belly-ached about the veggies, but picked the sausage out of his portion.  His reaction to food isn’t much to be trusted as a gauge of anything anymore though…I swear that if I gave him ice cream for dinner he’d complain it was the wrong flavor.  3 and a half!  Best age ever!  *grumbles*

Blue Cheese and Honey Nectarines

  The colder weather is starting to creep in and before we know it, it will be time to put the grill away.  Before that happens, lets get a few more meals cooked over the coals.  Today’s recipe is a side to go along with your ribs and steaks.
3 nectarines, halved and pitted
2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
Fresh thyme for garnish
  When preparing your grill, spread your heated coals over one half of the grill, leaving the other half of the grate empty.  Cook your meat over the charcoal and use the empty area for your nectarines.
  Cut your nectarines in half, remove the pit and fill the cavity with blue cheese.  Drizzle with honey and season with pepper.  Place them on the cooler side of the grill and allow the cheese to melt and the exterior to become slightly charred.  Remove from the grill and garnish with thyme leaves.
  There is little in this world that says “summer” to me more than grilled food, and fruit just gets such a fabulous flavor over the coals.  Adding cheese?  Well you know I’m on board there.
  G didn’t want to try his.  G doesn’t want to try anything lately, so that’s not a surprise.  I didn’t really mind, it meant more for me!  Definitely squeeze this in to these last few days before the cold rolls in.  There will be plenty of time for hearty stews and pumpkin soon, savor these last few days of warmth!