Tag Archives: low carb

Ratatouille

Ratatouille 1

The transition from summer to fall is my very favorite time of the year. I love the cool mornings and sunny (but not humid) days. It is the perfect time for making my favorite comfort food: Ratatouille. Like all good comfort foods, it is warm and filling and permeates your house with delicious smells as it cooks low and slow on the stove. And during this change of seasons, I love that I can still get great fresh garden vegetables and herbs to use in this recipe.

Ratatouille is not always the most visually appealing dish, but is bursting with flavor. It is full of hearty vegetables: eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, red peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and lots of fresh herbs Then cooked down on the stove until the flavors blend and meld into the most delicious vegetable stew. Eating healthy has never tasted better!

Ratatouille 2

This is Little A’s very favorite side dish. His face just lights up when he smells it as he comes into the house. All of the kids love it except for Little J (but she hardly counts as she turns her nose up to EVERY vegetable in this dish).

Ratatouille makes a perfect side dish to grilled or roasted meats. I love to serve it this time of year, when we still like to grill chicken, pork, or other things outside. Grilled meat is wonderful, but also begs for something juicy to eat with it. Ratatouille fits that bill perfectly. It is also great later in the winter with a roasted pork tenderloin, roast chicken, or beef roast.

This recipe makes a good-sized pot of ratatouille. You could always scale it back if you don’t want to make that much, but I love to have leftovers of this dish. It makes a perfect lunch all on its own the next day. Or as a sauce for pasta for an easy meal later in the week.

I never measure things when I make this recipe. It is very flexible based on your personal tastes. Below is a good approximation of the amounts that I use.

RECIPE:

Ratatouille

Ratatouille 2

½ cup olive oil
1 large eggplant, skin on, diced
2 onions, chopped
1 red/orange/yellow pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 zucchini and/or yellow squash, sliced and quartered
1 tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
3 cups chopped tomatoes
½ tsp Tabasco sauce (adjust to taste)
3 Tbs chopped fresh basil*
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley*
1 Tbs chopped fresh thyme*
1 Tbs chopped fresh oregano*

Heat olive oil in a large saucepot. Add eggplant to the hot oil and cook until eggplant begins to soften. Add onions, red pepper and garlic and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add zucchini, salt, pepper, and dried herbs; cook for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Add chopped tomatoes and Tabasco sauce and cook over medium-low heat, uncovered, until mixture is cooked down and thickened (30-40 minutes). Stir in fresh herbs during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary.

*Or substitute an additional 2-3 tsp dried Italian seasoning for the fresh herbs

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Blackened Cod with Creamy Cilantro Dressing

Blackened Cod 2

Looking for something to serve with your Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw? This blackened cod is perfect. And quick and easy on a warm summer night when you don’t want to heat up your kitchen.

If you are making the coleslaw as well, there will probably be enough extra dressing from that recipe to use for drizzling onto the cooked fish. Recipe for Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw:

Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw 1

I like to serve this meal with Cotija cheese. Cotija is a firm mild cheese with a texture similar to feta, but without the saltiness. It crumbles easily with your fingers.

Blackened Cod 1

This recipe also makes great Fish Tacos.

RECIPE: 

Blackened Cod with Creamy Cilantro Dressing

Blackened Cod 2

4 cod fish fillets (you could also use halibut or snapper)
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp Ancho chili powder
1/8 tsp chipotle chili powder
2 Tbs oil

Creamy Cilantro Dressing (recipe below)
Cotija cheese, crumbled
1 can black beans, drained and mixed with 1 Tbs lime juice
Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw

Prepare Creamy Cilantro Dressing and refrigerate for one hour before serving.

Remove fish from refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking. Mix dry spices in a small bowl. Pat fish fillets dry and rub spices onto both sides of fish fillets.

Heat oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Place fish fillets in the hot skillet and sear until cooked through (do not crowd pan; cook in 2 batches if necessary). Depending on the thickness and variety of fish, it should take about 3 minutes per side. Check for doneness with a fork: fish should flake easily, but not fall apart. Remove from pan and let fish rest for 2-3 minutes.

Drizzle fish with some of the Creamy Cilantro Dressing and top with crumbled cotija cheese. Serve fish with coleslaw, black beans, and additional cilantro dressing.

Creamy Cilantro Dressing

½ cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
3 green onions
1 fresh jalapeno
¼ cup fresh cilantro
2 Tbs diced mild green chilies (about ½ of a 4 oz can)
2 Tbs fresh squeezed lime juice
½ – 1 tsp Sriracha chili sauce (adjust to taste)
½ tsp kosher salt

Place all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Refrigerate for one hour before serving

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Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw

Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw 1

A light and creamy summer salad perfect for serving with grilled or barbecued meats. Flavored with lime juice and fresh jalapenos, the dressing on this coleslaw is tangy and slightly spicy, not sweet like a traditional coleslaw.

And if you have some dressing left over, it is great as a sauce for grilled meat, or refrigerated and used later as a salad dressing.

RECIPE:

Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw

Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw 1

3-4 cups shredded cabbage
4 green onions, sliced
½ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Dressing:
½ cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
3 green onions
1 fresh jalapeno
¼ cup fresh cilantro
2 Tbs diced mild green chilies (about ½ of a 4 oz can)
2 Tbs fresh squeezed lime juice
½ – 1 tsp Sriracha chili sauce (adjust to taste)
½ tsp kosher salt

Prepare dressing: Place all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Place cabbage, green onions, and chopped cilantro in a large bowl. Add the dressing a little at a time, stirring until cabbage is coated, but not drowning in dressing.** Refrigerate coleslaw for about one hour before serving.

**Any extra dressing can be served as a sauce for grilled meat, or refrigerated and used later as a salad dressing.

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Sugar Free Baked Custards and a Magic Fridge

Baked Custards 6

In our laundry room is an old refrigerator. It isn’t fancy, doesn’t dispense water or ice, or sync to your phone to create grocery lists. But it is magic.

2017-04-24 10.15.17

As my husband and children like to observe, whenever someone takes the last custard from this fridge, more magically appear again the very next day. They love this Magic Fridge.

It must be that same Magic that turns full laundry baskets into piles of folded clothes, raw ingredients into hot meals, and grimy bathrooms into sparkling retreats (okay, that might be wishful thinking; I’m still waiting for that kind of magic to appear).

But if you’re looking for a simple egg custard that is easy to make sugar-free, this is definitely the kind of magic I can help you with.

Baked Custards 1

Stevia is my favorite non-sugar sweetener, but it can sometimes be bitter if it is used alone to sweeten desserts. For this recipe, I combine stevia with erythritol. You could also use Splenda (or go for an all-sugar version).

Baked Custards 5

RECIPE:

Sugar Free Baked Custards

Baked Custards 6

3 eggs
3 egg yolks
¼ tsp liquid stevia
1 ½ tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
4 cups (1 quart) half & half
½ cup erythritol (or Splenda)
Optional: fresh berries for garnish

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Prepare a pan for a water bath: place eight 8-oz ramekins in a larger baking pan. Heat enough water to come halfway up sides of ramekins. (Don’t add hot water to baking pan until after pouring custard into ramekins)

In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, stevia, vanilla, and salt.

Heat half & half until very hot, but not quite boiling. (You can do this either in the microwave or on the stovetop). Remove from heat and stir in erythritol.

While whisking constantly, slowly pour the hot milk in a steady stream into the mixing bowl with the eggs. Do this very, very slowly at first, or you will curdle the eggs.

Strain the custard through a mesh sieve to remove any lumps.

Pour custard into small ramekins. Fill bottom of the larger baking pans with hot water to halfway up sides of ramekins.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until set at the edges, and only slightly jiggly in the center. Cool for 15 minutes in the water bath. Remove ramekins from water bath and refrigerate for 2-3 hours before serving. Serve with fresh fruit, if desired

Yield: 8 8-oz custards

**To prepare using sugar: use 2/3 cup sugar in place of stevia and erythritol

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Roasted Greek Chicken Salad

Greek Chicken 1

Looking for a lighter dinner that isn’t bland and boring?

This roasted Greek chicken with onions and peppers and homemade tzatziki is sure to please everyone in the family. You can eat it over a bed of lettuce or stuffed inside of pita bread.

I like to roast the chicken, peppers and onions in the oven to get nice crispy charred edges, but you could also cook them in a skillet.

Greek Chicken 3

Homemade pita bread and hummus is great served with this salad. Instructions can be found HERE.

Tzatziki is a garlic yogurt dip with grated cucumber and dill. It is a great topper for this salad.

Greek Chicken 2

RECIPE:

Roasted Greek Chicken Salad

Greek Chicken 1

Marinade:
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs Greek seasoning (or 2 tsp oregano + 1 tsp thyme)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

4 boneless chicken breasts, diced
2 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 onion, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced

1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
Feta cheese, crumbled
Tzatziki
Hummus
Pita bread, cut into wedges

Mix marinade ingredients in a Ziploc bag. Add diced chicken to marinade in bag. Refrigerate 2-3 hours or overnight. Drain chicken in a colander; discard marinade.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place chicken and sliced onion and red pepper on the baking sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and vegetables just begin to char. Broil for 1-2 minutes at the end of cooking time, if needed.

To cook in a skillet: Sauté in large skillet for 5 minutes; drain any excess liquid. Continue to cook until chicken is cooked through and beginning to brown. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside. Heat 1 Tbs oil in skillet. Add peppers and onions to skillet; cook until tender. Return chicken to skillet and heat through.

Serve over lettuce with feta cheese, tzatziki, hummus and pita bread wedges. Chicken can also be eaten inside of pitas with hummus, tzatziki and feta cheese.

Tzatziki
½ large seedless cucumber (or 2 mini cucumbers)
2 cups whole-fat plain Greek yogurt (Fage Total 4% brand is great)
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs lemon juice
4-6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dill
Dash white pepper
Salt

Grate cucumber (unpeeled), sprinkle with salt and drain in a colander until most of the liquid leeches out. Pat dry with a paper towel. Combine yogurt and cucumber with remaining ingredients. Add additional salt (about ¼-½ tsp) to taste. Refrigerate several hours to blend flavors.

Pita Bread
2 ½ tsp instant yeast
1 ½ cups warm water
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Additional flour for kneading, if necessary

If you have a baking stone, place it (ungreased) in the oven while preheating (if you are using a regular baking sheet, place in oven only 1 min before adding bread). Preheat oven to 475°F for at least 15-20 minutes.

Combine all  ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix well and then knead until smooth and elastic, adding additional flour if needed until dough doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.

Divide dough into 12 small balls. Leave in covered bowl. Roll 1 or 2 dough balls into circles about 6-inches across and ¼-inch thick. Place on hot baking stone, one or two at a time. Cook 2 minutes, or until dough puffs up. Turn over and cook about 1 minute longer. Remove from baking stone with a spatula. Place on a plate and flatten pita slightly with spatula (don’t completely flatten, or insides will stick together). Cover with a towel while other pitas are cooking.

Cut in half and fill to eat. Or cut  into wedges and serve with hummus and/or tzatziki for dipping.

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Baked Raspberry Custard Cups (Sugar Free)

Raspberry Custard Cups 2

These innocent little dessert cups created a fair amount of contention in our home recently.

I have two of these  Crème Brulee Ramekin Sets:

Creme Brulee Ramekins

While this is definitely not a necessary kitchen item (it was a gift), I do enjoy using it. I like that the rack keeps the bottom of the ramekins from touching the bottom of the pan when using a water bath. And it is really easy to remove the ramekins from the water bath with the rack. However. With 8 little cups and 6 people in our house right now, this creates conflict regarding the two “extras”.

Raspberry Custard Cups 1

Brian eats very little sugar, so every now and again I try to make a dessert that he will eat. Custards are an easy dessert to substitute out sugar without compromising the texture of the dessert. I make these using a combination of stevia and Splenda, but you could certainly make them with sugar as well.

So when I made these sugar-free custards, Brian assumed that I had made them for him and promptly ate a second one later that night and a third for breakfast the next morning. From the sad, droopy faces I got when kids came home from school asking about the “extras”, you would think that summer vacation had been cancelled.

Luckily, these are super easy to make, so I threw another batch in the oven before dinner. I wish I could say that everyone was happy that they got a second dessert, but unfortunately, it just created the same conflict two days in a row with who was going to get the “extras”.

Next time I’ll just hide the two extras, announce that there are only six, and eat the extras myself while everyone is at school. No more conflict.

RECIPE:

Baked Raspberry Custard Cups

Raspberry Custard Cups 2

3 cups half-and-half ( or 1 ½ cups milk + 1 ½ cups cream)
3 whole eggs + 2 egg yolks
½ cup sugar (or 1/3 cup Splenda + 10 drops vanilla stevia)
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, halved and scraped
Pinch of salt
Raspberries (about 2 cups), fresh or frozen (do not thaw)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare a pan for a water bath: place eight 6-oz ramekins in a larger baking pan. Heat enough water to come halfway up sides of ramekins.

Heat half-and-half in a saucepan over medium heat until very hot, but not quite boiling.

In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt until well combined.

While whisking constantly, slowly pour the hot milk in a steady stream into the mixing bowl with the eggs and sugar. Do this very, very slowly at first, or you will curdle the eggs. (I transfer the hot milk from the saucepan to a 1-quart Pyrex measuring cup so that it is easy to pour)

If necessary, strain custard through a mesh sieve to remove lumps. If you have no lumps, then just skim the foam from the top of the bowl using a mesh skimmer.

Place 5-6 raspberries (if using frozen raspberries, do not thaw first) in the bottom of each ramekin. Pour custard over raspberries. Fill bottom of larger pan with enough hot, almost boiling, water to come halfway up sides of ramekins.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until set completely at the edges, and only slightly jiggly in the center. NOTE: If you are using frozen raspberries, bake for 35-40 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes in waterbath. Remove ramekins from waterbath and refrigerate for 2-3 hours before serving.

 

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