Monday, September 3, 2012

Roasted Okra

Well it has been a while...but I am back!

So I love fried okra.  It is one of those things I will hunt out when I head home to the South.  But, we all know, fried food isn't the greatest for you and since I try not to eat wheat or corn, it isn't exactly a food I should be eating often.   I ran across this recipe for oven Roasted Okra on Pinterest and decided to try it.  It has already become a staple in our house.  We both LOVE it! 

As usual, I change things up and try things a little different to fit what works best in my house.  The recipe calls for fresh okra, which in Colorado is quite hard to find.  So, I chose to use frozen, sliced okra.  The first time I thawed the okra & tossed it in some olive oil, salt & pepper and then baked it in a 425 degree oven.  However, now I have tried it with just the frozen okra, and it seems to work just as well!  Because my okra was frozen, there is a bit more water and it usually takes more like 25-30 min for the okra to get nicely roasted with a few bits of crispiness. 

Here is the recipe as I follow it:

Oven Roasted Okra

1 bag frozen, sliced okra (plain, not breaded)
Olive oil (approx 1 Tbsp)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.  Then, simply toss the sliced okra (still frozen if you like) in olive oil, salt & pepper.  Place the okra on a baking sheet and spread them out.  Cook until roasted with a few browned edges (approximately 25-30 minutes)

If you love okra, try this recipe out.  It is delicious! 

Monday, August 6, 2012


Once in a while it is time for a little decadence, a bit of a vacation from my normal menu.  I was lucky enough for my oldest friend and her husband to visit on her birthday so I got to have just such an occasion to veer slightly from the every day.  I decided to try make something grain-free still but use real sugar.  Usually I use stevia or a blend of stevia and erythritol but I am not super comfortable baking with these items so I decided to use real sugar.  This seemed to be just the right chance to make a cheesecake and make a nut crust instead of the normal graham cracker crust.  I also don't own a spring-form pan so I decided a bar would be better.  Then began my Pinterest & Google searches for just such a recipe.  I found a few:  one that had blueberries & lemon, a Nutella cheesecake and then I found a Turtle Cheesecake Bar.  Bingo!  Just what I was looking for!  I haven't used Louanne's Kitchen blog before but she looks to aim for gluten-free which can fit right along with my eating habits a lot of the time.  She created a gluten-free cheesecake bar here and I think it was a hit! 

For once I pretty followed the recipe, so not much here for me to share except that it is YUMMY!  I do believe everyone who had a piece thought it was delicious and I would definitely make it again for a special occasion. It is very rich and you only need a small piece so make sure you have plenty of people around to help you enjoy the deliciousness!  I haven't made a cheesecake before but I didn't have any problem with this at all.  I did use an extra pan of water underneath the cheesecake in the oven so that it didn't crack.  Worked like a charm! 

Hope you have just such an occasion to try making this yummy decadent dessert! 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Many Sides of Cauliflower

I love(d) potatoes.  But now I don't eat very many grains or starchy vegetables and don't cook them at home ever so I have to find other sides for my meals.  I eat a lot of zucchini and cauliflower.  Here are a couple of recipes for cauliflower.  The first one, Twice Baked Cauliflower, we have only tried a couple of times but both times it was delicious and we will be making it again.  The second recipe, "Mash", is my go-to vegetable recipe when I want something fairly easy and delicious.  We probably have it at least once a week. 

from Kayln's Kitchen

1 large head cauliflower
4 oz. cream cheese (I use Neufchatel)
1/2 cup sour cream
green onions, sliced
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4slices bacon, crispy & crumbled
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

This really isn't twice baked, as the first time you actually boil the cauliflower.  But it is very similar to twice baked potatoes.  Take your cauliflower and break/cut it into smaller pieces and boil it in water until tender.  Drain the cauliflower.  I use my potato masher with all my cauliflower recipes.  So take your masher and break the cauliflower into smaller pieces.  You can judge how much you like the cauliflower smaller or larger pieces but I get mine pretty small.  Mix the cream cheese, sour cream, parmesan cheese, about half the bacon & about 1/2 of the cheddar cheese.  Pour your mixture into a greased casserole dish and sprinkle on the remainder of the cheese & bacon pieces.  Bake at 350 F for about half an hour or until the edges are browned and the casserole is bubbly.  D and I really liked the flavor of the crispy browned edges so we let ours cook as long as we could without burning.  Sprinkle some green onions on top for a fresh crisp and enjoy your side dish.  This is so yummy! 

First time - without green onions, bacon & zucchini.

Second time - with everything!
A couple of notes about variations:
The first time we made this we didn't have bacon or green onions.  Still very tasty!  They definitely add a layer of flavor but without the dish is still super super yummy!
The second time we had all the ingredients (bacon & green onions) but I also added a little zucchini (imagine, me adding zucchini to something! hah!).  I boiled it with the cauliflower and we thought it was very tasty.  I will be making this dish with or without the zucchini, with or without the bacon & green onions.  It is a hit around my house! 

aka faux 'tatoes

zucchini (if you choose)
cream cheese
salt & pepper

This is another of my almost-recipes as I don't have measurements.  :)  I typically will cook a full head of cauliflower & 1 or 2 zucchinis, depending on what I have in the house & how big they are.  Slice the veggies into manageable chunks and boil the cauliflower & zucchini until fork tender.  The more tender you can get your cauliflower, the smoother your mash can be.  This is something I may vary from time to time, just like you have mashed potatoes that are more home-style with chunks or buttery smooth.  Once the cauliflower is done to your liking, drain the vegetables & add butter & cream cheese.  As usual, I use neufchatel (or 1/3 less fat) cheese as I just like the flavor of it better.  I would say you will use about 2-3 T butter & 2-4 oz of cream cheese.  This will depend on how big your cauliflower & zucchini was and how creamy you want it.  You can use your hand masher or an electric hand mixer to mash your vegetables, butter & cream cheese together. Add salt & pepper to taste and enjoy! 

A little side note...when D and I vacationed in San Francisco we had mashed potatoes with zucchini at a restaurant.  I loved it!  Of course I love potatoes & zucchini are my favorite vegetable so it was a dream come true but I just as equally love my cauliflower mash with zucchini added.  It is also nice to be able to vary the recipe to give you a bit of a different side dish:  just cauliflower, zucchini & cauliflower, or even lots of zucchini with a little cauliflower.  

Hope you enjoy these two recipes.  Cauliflower has become a staple in our household and we are loving it! 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Chicken Enchilada Bake

Here I am back from vacation and cooking again!  I have had this recipe saved in my Pinterest Low Carb board for a while and tonight seemed like the perfect night to try it.  I wanted something fairly easy to make and this was it!  

The recipe comes from a Low Carb page but you could definite serve it over rice.  The recipe is Mexican Chicken from Linda's Low Carb Menus & Recipes.  As usual, I changed it up just a bit, adding black olives.  

I simply took out chicken tenderloins out of the freezer.  It was about 7-8 tenderloins, just enough to cover my 8"x8" square baking dish.  I really enjoy using the chicken tenderloins because they are smaller so they cook a bit faster.  They are really nice for a quick dinner when you get home from work.  

To my chicken tenderloins, I added some taco seasoning and a bit of fajita seasoning.  I use Fiesta brand of both these spice mixes & buy them in Texas.  I let the tenderloins thaw and marinate with the seasoning on them.  When it was time to get dinner started, I placed about two-thirds of my package of Green Chile Enchilada sauce on the chicken (probably about a cup - more than the recipe called for) and put it uncovered in a 350 degree oven.  The sauce I chose to use this time was Frontera's Green Chile Enchilada Sauce but use your favorite.  I had bought this on a whim and it was very good.  I also like Hatch's Green Chile Enchilada Sauce.  I think this recipe would also be good with red chile sauce too.  I did choose to bake my chicken instead of saute or grill, just because I bake chicken fairly often and it is easy.  Although grilling would have added another layer of yummy flavor!  After the chicken was almost done (approximately 30 min), I flipped each tenderloin and placed the remainder of the enchilada sauce on top.  I then put a few black olives (my addition to the recipe) on top of the chicken and topped them off with shredded cheese (which I did not measure and probably used more than the 4 oz the recipe called for).  I put the chicken back in the oven for 10 minutes at 400 to get the cheese bubbly and slightly browned.  If I had had green onions in the house, I would have added them to the chicken at the end but alas we were out. 

We really enjoyed this chicken and will be making it again for sure.  I served it with some refried Anasazi Beans (a type of bean grown by the Anasazi native americans) and cauliflower-zucchini mash.  These beans are my favorite type of bean and are similar to a pinto bean but a little creamier to me.  I love them!  Anyway, I plan on making this chicken again and it will be something I make when I want a quick dinner after a long day at work.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Stuffed Zucchini Duel

As you may know, or at least have surmised, I love zucchini.  I think I could find a way to put it in a meal every day.  Although I don't always do that.  :)  Since it is summer and zucchini season everyone is always looking for more ways to make zucchini.  Here are a couple of stuffed squash recipes that we have tried recently and really enjoyed. 

The first recipe is one I just made up on a whim.  D loves Italian food and since I have given up grains, that makes eating Italian a bit harder.  I wanted something with a spaghetti/meat sauce and just made it up as I went along.  We have made this recipe a few times and really like the squash.  I tried it this last time in a Patty-pan squash instead of zucchini.  I had never cooked with Patty-pan squash before but we both enjoyed it.  It seems to have a texture somewhere between zucchini and spaghetti squash.   The pictures I have are of the the Patty-pan but I have done it with zucchini and it is equally good if not better. Here is the recipe.  Although it is more of a vague plan to follow than a full-on recipe.  :) 

Italian Stuffed Squash 
1-2 squash (zucchini, yellow, or patty-pan)
spaghetti sauce
ground beef or sausage
1 small onion
black olives
shredded cheese (Parmesan, cheddar, Italian blend, or cheese of your choice)
herbs/seasonings of choice (basil, red pepper, oregano, etc)

You will first need to prepare the squash.  This means cutting them in half and scooping out most of the seed part of the squash.  If you are using a fairly young zucchini or yellow squash, you can chop up this part of the squash and cook it in your filling.

For the filling I have made a spaghetti sauce similar to the sauce I made for the zucchini pizza post earlier.  I use the lowest carb tomato sauce/spaghetti sauce I can find.  It will usually contain no sugar.  Then I add spices to beef it up.  I have added homemade pesto before or just some fresh basil, a little garlic, some crushed red pepper and a little seasoning salt.  To finish the filling, brown up your meat.  I have done this recipe with ground beef and with hot breakfast sausage. I usually use a pound of meat.  If you like Italian sausage, I am sure that would be delicious too.  I don't like anise seed so I rarely use Italian sausage in my recipes.  In the patty-pan squash dish, I used hot breakfast sausage and then browned some mushrooms & onions as well.  Finally, I added a little diced garlic and the tomato sauce to the meat & veggies.  Next I added a few black olives to the mix and stired in some cheese.  I like to use Parmesan in the filling because it is a heartier cheese but I will use whatever is in my fridge.  You can use as much or as little as you like but I usually use about a half cup of shredded cheese in the filling. 

Now it is time to fill your squash. Place the squash into a baking pan.  I have used both a glass 9" x 13" baking pan as well as a baking sheet (used below). Then fill the squash until full & slightly mounded over.  Finally you can place a little shredded cheese on top. 

Next you will bake your squash at 350 for 30 to 35 min until the squash is fork tender and the cheese is melted & slightly browned. 

Take out of the oven, serve & enjoy! 

Stuffed squash recipe #2 was inspired by a Martha Stewart recipe I found through  Here is the original recipe:  Stuffed Tex-Mex Yellow Squash.  As always, I changed it up a little.  :)  So here is what I did.

Tex-Mex Stuffed Zucchini
adapted from Martha Stewart
4 squash (yellow or zucchini)
1 lb ground beef
Worcestershire sauce
1 medium to small onion, diced
1-2 tsp minced garlic
2-3 mini sweet peppers, diced
black olives
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp seasoning salt
1/2 tsp corriander
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp chili powder (I use New Mexico chili powder)
4 Tbsp Red Chile Sauce
3/4 c to 1 c shredded cheddar cheese

First you will need to prepare your squash.  Cut in half lengthwise and then scoop out the part with seeds.  Save the scooped out part to add back to your filling.   I used a grapefruit spoon to scrape out the seed part.  I think it works pretty well.  Once you have them all scooped out you can place in the pan of your choice.  Like I mentioned in the past recipe, I have done stuffed zucchini in both a glass pan as well as a baking sheet as pictured below.  We actually cooked these on the an experiment.  So we moved them to aluminum foil on the grill. 

Next you need to make your filling.  This is similar to making a taco meat filling I think.  Brown your meat up.  I add a large dash of Worcestershire sauce to my hamburger any time I brown it up (for tacos, chili, etc).  As the meat starts to get done, I start adding in the seasoning.  I especially like for cumin & chile powder to cook for a while.  I think it makes their flavor better.  So I add in each of the spices (cumin, coriander, seasoning salt, black pepper & chile powder) and mix it up.  After the spices are incorporated, I add the diced onion, peppers & squash and let them cook down with the beef & spices.  I like to keep my veggies slightly crispy so I don't cook these for a super long time.  Finally I add in the garlic and let it cook for just a couple of minutes.  Last add in the red chile sauce.  You can choose to buy a canned or jarred version of red chile sauce.  It might be labeled enchilada sauce.  Or you could even use a favorite salsa.  I used some red chile sauce that we make called Chile Colorado.  I can share that recipe in a later post.

Last stir in about 1/2 c of shredded cheese.  I used Mexican cheese blend here but you could use your cheese of choice.  A cheddar would be good or even Monterrey Jack.  Then you need to fill your squash with your filling.  I prefer to fill my squash as full as I can get them, sort of mounding the filling up.

Last sprinkle on some extra cheese & place a few sliced black olives on top. Then bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, till the squash are fork tender & the cheese is bubbly.  We cooked these on the grill on aluminum foil for about 15 minutes on low.  The bottoms of the squash did get a little extra grill flavor (i.e. black), but we still thought they tasted yummy. 

Hope you enjoy the dueling stuffed squash recipes!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pesto Grilled Chicken

Next up in my pesto-mania:  Pesto Grilled Chicken.  This recipe is actually the reason I wanted to make fresh pesto but the pizza came first in pesto use!  I get recipes & coupons from my local grocery story, King Soopers.  For you Easterners, it is the same company as Kroger.  Anyway, they had sent me a recipe for Spicy Grilled Pesto Chicken.  I am not sure why they named it spicy because it isn't spicy at all to me but it was very tasty!  As always, I didn't follow the recipe completely so here is the recipe and then I will tell you what I did. 
Spicy Grilled Pesto Chicken
     from King Soopers

1/4 c fresh parsley
1 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp Pesto
1 large resealable food storage bag
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, thawed (approximately 4 medium to large thighs)

Wash & de-stem parsley, and chop until finely minced for about 30 seconds in a food processor.  Combine the well-chopped parsley with freshly ground pepper, Worcestershire sauce and pesto in a large resealable plastic bag.  Mix the ingredients well with a spoon, and/or by squeezing closed bag with hands.

Add thawed chicken, one piece at a time, into the bag, making sure to coat each piece thoroughly.  Marinate chicken in a bag for 15 to 30 minutes at room temperature or in the fridge.  Remove pieces with tongs and grill for 12 to 15 minutes, turning once, until the internal temperature reaches a safe 165 degrees F.

For a refreshing summer side dish to balance the sizzle of the grilled chicken, serve with chilled pickled vegetables.  Refrigerate any leftovers.  Serves 4. 

So here is what I did.  :)  I didn't have parsley so out the window that went.  I also am not a big fan of dark meat so we used chicken breasts.  Drew might have preferred I used the thighs.  Next time!  I used 4 pretty large chicken breasts and thawed them for a couple of hours.  I mixed the pesto (about 2 heaping Tbsp since I didn't use the parsley), black pepper, Worcestershire sauce and a few dashes of lemon juice (another veer from the recipe!) in my gallon bag and added the chicken breasts.  The chicken was mostly thawed but not completely.

I mixed the chicken breasts around in the bag and got them coated well and then let them marinate for quite a bit longer than the original recipe.  I probably let them marinate for 2 to 2.5 hours.  I turned the bag a few times during the marination time to make sure the flavors soaked in evenly.   Then I grilled them up!  As I was grilling the chicken, I did slowly add some of the marinade back on to the chicken to keep it moist and add more pesto flavor.

Drew & I really enjoyed this chicken and I foresee us making it again. Plus we had leftovers for lunch.  :) It was juicy and very flavorful, a definite YUM!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A different take on pizza...

This past weekend we decided to make pizza.  Now, given my self-imposed dietary restrictions, this is a bit harder than you think.  I am not eating any grains so a normal crust is out of the window.  When I was back home in Arkansas in June, my Aunt gave me a recipe for a zucchini pizza crust.  Those of you who know me know I LOVE, yes L-O-V-E LOVE, zucchini.  :)  So this seems like the best idea ever! 

Here is the recipe that my Aunt gave me, which I am sure came from somewhere else...if I find out I will give the appropriate credit.  :)   
**Update 7/10/12** The recipe for the pizza crust comes from Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen from the Moosewood Restaurant.  

Zucchini Pizza Crust
3 1/2 c coarsely grated zucchini (about 5 small to medium zucchinis for us)
3 eggs, beaten
1/3 c flour (we used almond flour)
1/2 c grated mozzarella (we actually used a pizza cheese mix)
1/2 c Parmesan
1 Tbs fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried basil
salt & pepper

Grate the zucchini using the largest size hole on your grater. 

Salt the zucchini lightly & let it sit for 15 minutes.  Then squeeze out any excess moisture.  I pushed it against the edges of the strainer and then took handfuls and squeezed as much moisture from the zucchini as possible. 

Add the eggs, flour/almond flour, cheese, & basil to the zucchini.  Here I veered from the recipe a bit.  (of course!)  Since I had just made pesto and didn't save any fresh basil, I just used a tablespoon of pesto in the crust instead.  :) 

Mix all the ingredients together and add salt and pepper.  Remember you salted the zucchini a bit before. 

Spread the crust onto an oiled baking pan.  The recipe called for a 9"x13" pan but I used a jelly roll sheet instead.  I think this let the crust get a bit thinner. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes in a 350 degree F oven until the surface of the crust is dry and firm.  Then brush the top with a bit of oil and broil for 5 more minutes.  Drew and I decided we would let it brown a little more next time. 

Now you are ready to make pizza!  We made fresh pesto for half (see previous blog post) and just seasoned up a bit of canned spaghetti sauce for the other half.  I used a Hunt's No Sugar Added canned sauce and added garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper and a bit of crushed red pepper. 

Then we had to decide on toppings.  Here is what we had in the house but next time we might add mushrooms and pepperoni.   We used cheese, white onion, sweet petite peppers, black olives & hot breakfast sausage.  The sweet petite peppers are the ones that come in a bag or carton of small red, yellow & orange peppers.  Anyway, choose your favorite toppings! 

We layered on a little Parmesan cheese and then the meat & veggies.

Next we added lots of cheese.  The pizza cheese mix had mozzarella, smoked provolone, Parmesan and Romano cheese.  We finally topped with a few more black olives. 

Finally we baked it at 350 degrees F for another 20-25 minutes until golden brown and gooey. 

We sliced the pizza up and devoured it!  It definitely is a bit of a different textured crust than a normal wheat crust but it is close enough and it fulfills the need for pizza.  This also definitely tasted like a homemade pizza.  My mom used to make homemade pizza (whole wheat crust) fairly often and it reminded me a lot of her pizza, which is a good thing!  Drew and I both liked it a lot and would only try and brown the crust just a tad more next time.  We will be making it again!  Hope you enjoy!