Tag Archives: low carb

Chorizo Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan

Sausage Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan 5

Chorizo sausage, fresh mozzarella pearls, spicy marinara: all stuffed into an eggplant shell and topped with melted Parmesan. Perfect on its own, or served with a side of pasta.

Sausage Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan 2

Be sure to use medium sized eggplant. The skin on large eggplant is too thick to eat unless cooked for much longer than this recipe.

Sausage Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan 3

I love  chorizo sausage in this, but you could also use a mild or spicy Italian sausage. I also use a spicy marinara sauce (like Arrabiata), but you can use whatever your family prefers.

Sausage Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan 5

Chorizo Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan

Sausage Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan 5

3 medium eggplant (do NOT use large eggplant)
2 cups marinara sauce (I use a spicy variety, like Arrabiata)
Olive oil cooking spray
salt & pepper
1 lb chorizo sausage
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp Italian seasoning
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
8 oz fresh mini mozzarella pearls (or ½” cubes)
1 cup fresh grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cut eggplant in half lengthwise. Use a tablespoon-sized measuring spoon to hollow out centers of eggplant halves (don’t discard eggplant insides). Spread about 1 cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9×13” baking dish. Place eggplant halves in the baking pan. Spray the eggplant halves with olive oil cooking spray (or brush lightly with olive oil) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Coarsely chop eggplant insides and set aside.

In a large skillet, cook chorizo over medium-high heat until browned; drain grease (place chorizo in a paper towel lined bowl to remove excess grease). Return chorizo to the skillet with the chopped eggplant, onion, and garlic. Stir in Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Cook until eggplant is soft, about 5-7 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.

Add the mozzarella pearls to the sausage mixture in the skillet and stir gently. Quickly (before the cheese melts) spoon mixture evenly into the 6 eggplant halves. Top the filled eggplant boats with remaining marinara sauce.
Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh Parmesan and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

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Sugar-Free Blackberry Cheesecake Mousse

Blackberry Cheesecake Mousse 2

A light, refreshing sugar-free dessert perfect for summer evenings. You can use any fresh berry (raspberry, strawberry, blackberry). It is sugar free, low-carb, and keto friendly.

Blackberry Cheesecake Mousse 1

RECIPE:

Sugar-Free Blackberry Cheesecake Mousse

Blackberry Cheesecake Mousse 1

12 oz fresh blackberries (about 2 cups)**
¼ cup water
¼ cup granulated low carb sweetener (I used erythritol)
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
¼ cup powdered low carb sweetener (I used a monkfruit/erythritol blend)
¼ tsp liquid stevia
1 Tbs vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
Additional fresh blackberries for garnish

Combine blackberries, water, and granulated sweetener in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, crushing blackberries with a potato masher or spoon. Strain blackberry mixture through a fine mesh sieve, pressing with a spoon to strain all of the pulp. Set strained mixture aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, powdered sweetener, stevia, and vanilla. Beat with a mixer for 3-4 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Beat in cooled blackberry mixture. Taste and add additional sweetener, if needed.

In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold whipped cream into the blackberry mixture.

Spoon mousse into 8 small ramekins and refrigerate until slightly firm (1-2 hours). Garnish with fresh blackberries, if desired.

NOTE: you can also use other berries like raspberries or strawberries.

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Sesame Crusted Tuna Steaks

Sesame Crusted Tuna Steaks 1

Fresh tuna steaks are a fast and delicious dinner that even fish-haters around here approve of. Fresh tuna steaks are coated in sesame seeds, quickly seared, and served with a spicy Asian dipping sauce. Tuna steaks are best served rare, so be sure you have all of your sides ready before starting to cook the fish.

The main ingredients in the dipping sauce are soy sauce, lime juice, and chili paste. The strong flavors pair well with the mild fish. You can adjust the spice level to the taste of your family.

Preparing the tuna steaks is super simple. Mix together some white and black toasted sesame seeds, and generously coat all sides of the tuna steaks. Cook for 2 minutes in a hot cast iron skillet, and you are done. Be sure and serve immediately, so that the tuna steaks don’t dry out.

Sesame Crusted Tuna Steaks 3

The best place to buy sesame seeds is an Asian market. You can buy large bags of white or black seeds relatively inexpensively.

In addition to the dipping sauce, I served the tuna steaks with a Thai Cucumber Salad and Green Chili Cilantro Rice.

Sesame Crusted Tuna Steaks 2

Recipes:

Sesame Crusted Tuna Steaks

Sesame Crusted Tuna Steaks 1

4  fresh ahi tuna steaks, about 1” thick
Salt and freshly ground pepper
½ cup each black and white toasted sesame seeds
4 Tbs oil

Dipping Sauce:
¼ cup soy sauce
1 lime, juiced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs sesame oil
10 drops liquid stevia (or 1 Tbs brown sugar)
2 tsp ground chili paste (adjust to taste)
2 Tbs chopped cilantro

Prepare dipping sauce: Stir together all of the sauce ingredients and set aside.

Pat tuna steaks dry. Season both sides of the tuna steaks with salt and pepper. Place sesame seeds in a wide bowl and dip tuna steaks in seeds, pressing seeds onto all sides of the tuna steaks.

Heat oil in a cast iron skillet until very hot. Add tuna steaks to hot pan. Do not crowd pan; cook in batches if necessary.  Cook for 1 minute on each side. (Adjust cooking time if steaks are thicker, or if you want them cooked more than rare). Remove to serving platter. Cut tuna steaks diagonally into slices and serve immediately with dipping sauce.

Thai Cucumber Salad

4-6 small pickling cucumbers, sliced
½ of a small red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup rice vinegar, unsweetened
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs sesame oil
10 drops liquid stevia (or 1 Tbs sugar)
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
¼ tsp dried crushed red pepper flakes

Mix sliced cucumbers, onion and cilantro in a bowl. Stir together remaining ingredients. Pour over cucumbers.

Green Chili Cilantro Rice

Green Chili Cilantro Rice

1 can (1 ¾ cup) chicken broth
1 can (4 oz) diced mild green chilies, undrained
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs olive oil
½ tsp salt
1 cup Basmati rice (or other long grain variety rice)
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Combine broth, green chilies, garlic, olive oil, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir in rice, cover, and simmer over low heat for 20-25 minutes, or until rice is cooked. Stir in chopped cilantro.

This can also be cooked in a rice cooker: combine all ingredients except cilantro in rice cooker and cook according to directions; stir in cilantro.

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Ham and Zucchini Quiche

Ham and Zucchini Quiche 2

Summer is in full swing, which means it is prime zucchini season. Pair this quiche with a salad for a perfect summer meal that can be eaten hot or cold.

For a perfectly browned crust, bake the quiche with a pie crust shield. It is easy to Make Your Own:

Pie Crust Shield

For a low carb version, just bake this quiche without a crust in an 8-inch square baking dish.

Ham and Zucchini Quiche 1

Some ideas for salads to serve alongside this quiche:

Chopped Caprese Salad
Greek Summer Salad
Chipotle Lime Quinoa and White Bean Salad
Thai Cucumber Salad

RECIPE:

Ham and Zucchini Quiche

Ham and Zucchini Quiche 2

Single pastry crust for 9” pie plate
1 ½ cups heavy cream
4 eggs
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1/8 tsp ground cayenne or Ancho chile pepper
1 Tbs butter
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 cup chopped zucchini
1 cup chopped cooked ham
¼ cup fresh grated Parmesan
1 ½ cups shredded Swiss, cheddar, or  Gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Prepare pastry crust and place in 9” pie plate (deep dish, if possible).

In a medium bowl, use a whisk to mix cream, eggs, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.

Heat butter in a skillet. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add diced zucchini and cook until crisp-tender (about 3 minutes). Place vegetables in a mixing bowl and stir in diced ham. Cool slightly. Stir in shredded cheese. Spread filling evenly into unbaked crust. Pour egg mixture over filling. Use a spatula or fork to remove any large air pockets.

If desired, cover the crust of the quiche with a pie crust shield. Bake at 425°F for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake an additional 30 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to set at room temperature 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.

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Chopped Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction

Caprese Salad 2

A Caprese Salad is the perfect accompaniment to grilled summer meats: chicken, steaks, pork, even hamburgers. Made with summer fresh tomatoes and basil, fresh mozzarella, and a reduced balsamic glaze, it just screams summer and healthy eating.

Caprese Salad 1

I like to make a “chopped” version of the salad with various cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and mozzarella pearls. I drizzle this with some extra-virgin olive oil and serve the balsamic reduction on the side so that the tomatoes and cheese don’t soak up too much vinegar before serving.

I love these little “mozzarella pearls”. They are perfectly bite-sized:

Image result for mozzarella pearls   Pearls

If you are short on time, you can serve this with straight balsamic vinegar, but it is so worth the little time it takes to reduce the vinegar to a stronger syrupy consistency. I usually reduce an entire bottle of vinegar and then store the left-overs  in the refrigerator. You can also infuse some delicious flavors into your reduction while you are at it, things like fresh herbs and garlic. Some people add additional honey or sweetener to the reduction, but I find balsamic vinegar to be plenty sweet without additional sweetener.

If you don’t want to do the chopped version of this salad, you can also make it in the more traditional format with sliced tomatoes and mozzarella:

Caprese Salad 3

Tomorrow we officially begin our summer break (after a final half-day of school). This salad will be a frequent side dish on our table.

Caprese Salad 2

RECIPE:

Chopped Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction

Caprese Salad 2

2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cup mozzarella pearls
¼ cup fresh basil, sliced in thin strips (chiffonade)
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
about ¼ cup  Balsamic Reduction

Combine tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and olive oil in a serving dish. Season with salt and pepper. Serve Balsamic Reduction on the side to be drizzled over salad just before eating.

Balsamic Reduction

1 (16 oz) bottle balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs honey, optional (I DO NOT add honey)
2 whole cloves of garlic
1 bay leaf
1-2 sprigs of fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano)

Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently until vinegar reduces by about half and thickens to a thin syrup. This will take about 10-15 minutes.

Remove garlic, bay leaf, and herbs (strain if necessary). Cool. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Yield: about 1 cup glaze

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Sugar-Free Strawberry Cheesecake

Sugar Free Strawberry Cheesecake 6

This sugar-free strawberry cheesecake may have just jumped onto my list of all-time favorite desserts, even those full of sugar.

This is a no-bake cheesecake that is easy to put together. Made with fresh strawberries, it is a fabulous summer dessert that won’t heat up the kitchen.

It is light and airy, not dense like a baked cheesecake. I sweetened it with stevia and erythritol, but you can easily substitute real sugar. But for those watching their carb and sugar intake, this is a wonderfully satisfying dessert. My kids don’t even miss the sugar!

Sugar Free Strawberry Cheesecake 4

I made it in a 9” springform pan, and it completely filled the pan for a nice tall cheesecake. You could make it in a little bit larger pan instead if you don’t want quite as thick of slices.

I garnished the cheesecake with some whipped cream and fresh berries. A wonderful light and summery dessert.

Sugar Free Strawberry Cheesecake 3

RECIPE:

Sugar-Free Strawberry No-Bake Cheesecake

Sugar Free Strawberry Cheesecake 6

Crust:
¾ cup whole almonds (roasted and salted)
¼ cup whole pecans
¼ cup rolled oats
3 Tbs butter, melted
10 drops of liquid stevia

Filling:
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup erythritol
½ tsp liquid stevia
½ cup cool water
2 (1 oz) packages unflavored gelatin
1 quart (4 cups) whole strawberries, hulled
1 cup heavy cream

Garnish:
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs cream cheese, at room temperature
½ tsp vanilla extract
5 drops liquid stevia
Whole strawberries, and/or other berries (raspberries, blackberries)

Crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place almonds, pecans, and oats in a food processor; blend until finely ground. Add butter and stevia  and pulse until combined. Lightly spray 9” springform pan with baking spray (I like coconut oil spray for this). Press crust mixture onto bottom of pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool completely.

Filling:
In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sour cream, vanilla, erythritol, and stevia and beat again until smooth.

Place cool water in a separate bowl; sprinkle gelatin over water. Let sit for 5 minutes, or until gelatin has softened. Microwave for 15 seconds, or until gelatin has dissolved.

Place strawberries in a food processor. Blend until very finely chopped (mixture will be slightly liquidy). Add gelatin mixture to food processor and pulse until mixed. Add chopped strawberries to cream cheese mixture and beat until smooth. Taste mixture and add additional sweetener, if needed.

In a separate mixing bowl, whip 1 cup cream until stiff peaks form. Fold into filling.

Pour mixture over cooled crust in the springform pan. Refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours or until firm.

Garnish:
Combine cream, cream cheese, vanilla, and stevia in a mixing bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. Pipe onto top of chilled cheesecake and garnish with fresh berries.

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Artichoke Basil Chicken

Artichoke Basil Chicken 1

This chicken dish is healthy, delicious, and quick to put together for a weeknight meal. And since I just planted our garden, we have lots of fresh basil ready to use. I love cooking with fresh summer herbs and vegetables.

The chicken is quickly browned and then topped with Parmesan, chopped artichokes, tomatoes, and fresh basil.

Artichoke Basil Chicken 3

Bake for about 30 minutes and then top with fresh mozzarella and broil until melted. More fresh basil takes this from ordinary to amazing. (Ignore the one corner of this photo with no cheese: the child this piece of chicken will serve is very inconsistent with her likes/dislikes)

Artichoke Basil Chicken 4

We eat this on its own, but you could also serve pasta on the side to soak up some of the amazing juices.

Artichoke Basil Chicken 2

I use these artichokes almost exclusively when a recipe calls for artichokes. They are just the best part of the artichoke: all heart, no leaves. You get 7-9 hearts in each can. I love that there are no tough leaves. (They recently changed the can label: Left=old; Right=new)

Artichoke Bottoms

 

RECIPE:

Artichoke Basil Chicken

Artichoke Basil Chicken 1

2 Tbs olive oil
4 boneless chicken breasts
Greek seasoning mix (or Italian seasoning)
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbs white wine
1 can artichoke bottoms, cut into ½” chunks
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
3 Tbs fresh basil, sliced
4 Tbs grated fresh Parmesan
4 slices fresh mozzarella
4 Tbs fresh basil, sliced

Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly spray a baking dish with cooking spray.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to skillet and sprinkle generously with Greek seasoning. Brown chicken on both sides (2-3 minutes per side; chicken should not be cooked through). Remove chicken from skillet and place in baking dish.

Add garlic to skillet and cook 1-2 minutes, or until browned. Stir in wine and chopped artichokes. Cook and deglaze pan until wine has reduced by about half. Add tomatoes to pan and cook for 2 minutes, or until hot. Stir in 3 Tbs fresh basil.

Top each chicken breast in the baking dish with 1 Tbs Parmesan cheese. Spoon artichoke mixture evenly over chicken. Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Top with fresh mozzarella slices and broil for 2-3 minutes, or until cheese is melted and slightly browned. Sprinkle with additional 4Tbs fresh basil and serve immediately.

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Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Fajitas 1

Chicken fajitas are always a kid favorite. Roasting the chicken and vegetables in a sheet pan makes for a quick and easy clean-up. Now everyone’s happy.

Great for eating traditionally in warm flour tortillas, topping a crispy corn tortilla, or on a bed of lettuce for those watching their carb intake.

Chicken Fajitas 2

I serve these Fajitas with Instant Pot Chipotle Beans and Green Chili Cilantro Rice (recipe below).

Chipotle Black Beans 2

Green Chili Cilantro Rice

RECIPES:

Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Fajitas 1

2-3 lb boneless, skinless chicken, diced
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
4 Tbs lime juice
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs Italian salad dressing
1 Tbs chili powder
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro, divided
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 red/yellow bell peppers, thinly sliced
1-2 jalapenos, thinly sliced or minced

Flour or corn tortillas, warmed
Shredded cheese
Guacamole
Sour cream
Tomatoes, chopped
Lettuce, chopped

In a Ziploc bag, combine chicken, Worcestershire sauce, lime juice, soy sauce, Italian dressing, chili powder, garlic and 2 Tbs cilantro. Marinate at room temperature 30 minutes, or in the refrigerator as long as overnight.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a large sheet pan with foil; spray or brush lightly with olive oil.

Drain excess marinade from the chicken and spread into an even layer in prepared pan. Add sliced onions and peppers to the pan. Sprinkle with a small amount of salt.

Roast in oven for 10 minutes. Pour off any liquid in the pan. Set oven to broil and cook until chicken and peppers just begin to char. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbs cilantro.

Serve with warm tortillas and desired condiments.

Green Chili Cilantro Rice

Green Chili Cilantro Rice

1 can (1 ¾ cup) chicken broth
1 can (4 oz) diced mild green chilies, undrained
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs olive oil
½ tsp salt
1 cup Basmati rice (or other long grain variety rice)
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Combine broth, green chilies, garlic, olive oil, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir in rice, cover, and simmer over low heat for 20-25 minutes, or until rice is cooked. Stir in chopped cilantro.

This can also be cooked in a rice cooker: combine all ingredients except cilantro in rice cooker and cook according to directions; stir in cilantro.

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Cheesesteak Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers 2

Whether you are eating low-carb, or gluten-free, or just want a delicious dinner that the whole family will love, this recipe fits the bill. The only ingredient some of my family object to is the mushrooms, but if I chop them finely enough, they don’t even know they’re there.

And if you buy pre-sliced beef, you can have this on the table in under an hour.

Shaved Beef Steak

I like to serve this with Chipotle Black Beans and Green Chili Cilantro Rice.

Chipotle Black Beans 2  Green Chili Cilantro Rice

.

Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers 4

RECIPE:

Cheesesteak Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers 2

2 Tbs butter
1 large onion, diced
8 oz mushrooms, chopped (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 jalapenos, finely diced
2 lb thinly sliced beef
2-3 tsp Montreal Steak seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt
4 large poblano peppers
Provolone cheese and/or mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly spray a 9×13” baking dish with olive oil spray.

Melt butter in a large skillet. Add chopped onion, mushrooms, garlic, and jalapenos to the skillet and sauté until softened. Add beef to skillet and cook over medium-high heat until beef is cooked through. Stir in steak seasoning, garlic powder, and salt. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Cut poblano peppers in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and place in baking dish. Sprinkle peppers lightly with salt. Place a slice of cheese, or small amount of shredded cheese, in each pepper. Spoon cooked beef mixture into the peppers. Top each pepper with additional cheese.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (and other stuff): Roasted Spiced Pecans

Roasted Spiced Pecans

DAY 4: Roasted Spiced Pecans

These slightly spicy nuts are my family’s very favorite snack. I make them all year round, at least once or twice a month.

And since this is a savory treat, not a sweet one, you can feel good about dipping into these all through the holidays!

RECIPE:

Roasted Spiced Pecans

Yield: 6 cups

Roasted Spiced Pecans

6 cups (24oz bag) pecan halves
5 Tbs butter
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs Sriracha sauce (adjust to taste)
1 tsp coarse kosher salt
¾ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp ground mustard

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil.

Place pecan halves in a large mixing bowl. Melt butter in a glass measuring cup or small bowl. Stir in remaining seasonings and mix well. Pour butter mixture over pecans and stir until pecans are well coated.

Spread pecans in an even layer on baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes; stir and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes. Allow pecans to cool on the baking sheet, stirring occasionally as they cool. Store in an airtight container.

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