Sunday, October 9, 2011

Blintzes with blackberry sauce

If you are an Eastern European Jew, you're probably familiar with blintzes. For the uninitiated, blintzes are crepes (known as bleitlach) wrapped around a soft cheese-based filling. Usually, they are served with a fruit topping (like pie filling), applesauce, and/or sour cream. I decided to make these with a healthier, low-carbier spin with crepes are based on coconut flour.

The first couple crepes that I made fell apart, and I realized that it's because I was making them too thick. It will probably take some trial and error and it depends on the size of your pan; a scant 1/4 cup of batter worked for me. If you completely fail with these, you could scatter a layer of crepes slightly overlapping in the bottom of a casserole dish, spoon the filling on top, cover with another layer of crepes, bake, then cut into squares.

Makes about a dozen

For the crepes:
  • 6 eggs
  • 6 Tbs melted butter (could substitute oil)
  • 1 Tbs honey or sweetener of choice (optional)
  • Pinch salt
  • 6 Tbs coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup club soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the filling:
  • 12 oz farmer's cheese
  • 4 oz cottage cheese, ricotta, or cream cheese (I used cottage cheese, I think I will use cream cheese next time)
  • 1 Tbs melted butter
  • 1 Tbs sweetener of choice
  • Zest of one lemon, finely grated or chopped
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • I added a teaspoon of Penzey's baking spice; I think 1/2 tsp each of cinnamon and cardamom would be a good substitute.
For the blackberry sauce:
  • 1 cup blackberries (fresh or thawed frozen)
  • Sweetener to taste
  • Xanthan gum (optional, if you like it thicker)

For the crepes:
  1. Start preheating a nonstick crepe pan or skillet on medium-low heat.
  2. Combine all the ingredients except for the club soda in a blender and blend well. Add the club soda a pulse a few times to mix thoroughly.
  3. When pan is hot, brush or spray with oil or butter. Pour in about 1/4 cup of batter and swirl around to coat the pan evenly. Cook, turning once, until both sides are golden brown. Set aside. Can be made a day in advance.
For the filling:
  1. Mash together all ingredients until combined. I used a potato masher.
  2. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator.
For the sauce:
  1. Mash berries in the bottom of a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high, then turn heat to low.
  2. Add sweetener, 1 Tbs at a time, and taste until you reach desired level of sweetness.
  3. Simmer on low for 5-10  minutes or until slightly thickened.

For the blintzes:
  1. Roll up about 2-4 Tbs filling in each crepe, folding both ends so that it is closed. Amount of filling will depend on the size of your crepes and how full you like your blintzes.
  2. Heat butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook the blintzes, a few at a time, turning once until golden brown and crisp.
  3. Serve with blackberry sauce and/or sour cream.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hamburger steak with onions and egg

After a day of hard training, this recipe from New Yorker By Heart sounded so good that I had to make it. This dish with tomato salad is like an upgraded version of what my husband and I both usually order at old-fashioned-type diners. It's one of the simpler things I've posted on this blog, but I definitely recommend it for an easy dinner. The tomato salad is grape tomatoes and olives tossed with balsamic vinegar mixed with fresh basil pesto.

Serves however many you make

  • Hamburger patties (I used 90% lean grass fed ground beef seasoned with Penzeys Old World seasoning; of course salt and pepper would work too)
  • Egg
  • Onion, sliced or coarsely chopped
  1. Cook the hamburger patties to desired level of doneness in a skillet. Set aside, cover with foil to keep warm.
  2. Cook the onions in the remaining juices, adding a little extra butter or oil if necessary. Set aside.
  3. Cook the eggs in the same pan until cooked but yolk is still runny.
  4. Top each hamburger steak with onions and an egg. Serve with Tabasco or steak sauce, and tomato salad or sliced tomatoes on the side.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Half baked ice cream

It got kind of melted while I was photographing it :\

Ben and Jerry's "Half Baked" is my all-time favorite ice cream. They describe it as, "Chocolate and Vanilla Ice Creams with Fudge Brownies and Gobs of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough". I got the crazy idea to make a healthy-ish version of this.

I made it as follows:
  • Made a batch of vanilla cottage cheese "ice cream" (like I used in the ice cream bars)
  • Mixed in hunks of April's protein cookie dough. This stuff is awesome and really tastes like cookie dough, especially if you add chocolate chips or cacao nibs! Substituting cashew butter for peanut butter makes it even more cookie-like.
  • Made a batch of chocolate cottage cheese "ice cream"
  • Mixed in chunks of 1-carb brownies
  • Swirled the two flavors together
It definitely took some time and effort, but it definitely satisfied that craving!

Makes about a pint


For the cookie dough ice cream:
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp stevia extract or equivalent sweetener (basically enough sweetener to equal 3-4 Tbs sugar)
  • 1 Tbs vodka (optional, to keep ice cream soft)
  • 1/2 scoop protein powder (my favorite for this is True Protein milk protein isolate in cookie dough flavor, but any vanilla protein powder would work great too)
  • 1 Tbs nut butter (peanut, cashew, almond, or macadamia would all be great)
  • About a teaspoon of cacao nibs or chocolate chips or chopped up dark chocolate bar (optional but recommended)
For the chocolate fudge brownie ice cream:
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp stevia extract or equivalent sweetener (basically enough sweetener to equal 3-4 Tbs sugar)
  • 2 Tbs cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup liquid egg whites or nondairy milk of choice (i.e. almond milk or lite coconut milk)
  • 1 Tbs vodka (optional, to keep ice cream soft)
  • About 1/3 of a batch of 1-carb brownies, thoroughly cooled and cut into cubes
  1. Combine the nut butter, protein powder, and a teaspoon of water. Mix until smooth. If necessary, add more water, a teaspoon at a time, until you have something with a cookie dough consistency. Mix in the cacao nibs or chocolate chunks. Form into small balls and set aside in the fridge.
  2. Puree the remaining ingredients for the cookie dough ice cream together. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer directions. Mix in the cookie dough balls and set aside in the freezer.
  3. Puree all the ingredients for the chocolate fudge brownie ice cream together except for the brownie chunks. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer directions. Mix in the brownie pieces.
  4. Gently swirl the two ice creams together, being sure not to overmix. If desired, top with extra brownie and/or cookie dough pieces. Eat right away or store in the freezer.

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    Deviled eggs with garlic-stuffed olives

    Lately both the husband and I have been addicted to garlic-stuffed green olives. I was assigned to make a dish from Daily Dish Recipes as per July's Secret Recipe Club. So, when I saw a recipe for deviled eggs with olives, I thought I'd give it a shot using these olives.

    Makes 12 deviled egg halves

    • 6 hard-boiled eggs
    • 2 Tbs mayonnaise (homemade olive oil mayo would be ideal here, though I used storebought)
    • 2 Tbs cider vinegar
    • 2 Tbs dijon mustard
    • 1 Tbs finely-chopped garlic-stuffed green olives, plus extra for topping
    • 1/8 tsp curry powder (optional)
    1. Slice the eggs into half lengthwise. Remove the yolks into a small bowl and mash them until crumbly. 
    2. Mix in the vinegar, mustard, mayo, chopped olives, and curry powder.
    3. Spoon the filling into the whites. 
    4. Top with additional halved or sliced olives.

    Saturday, July 16, 2011


    Bulgogi is one of the most well-known Korean dishes. It is comprised of marinated paper-thin slices of beef that are grilled and served in lettuce wraps with various banchan. Lettuce leaves tend to fall apart for wraps, so I use savoy cabbage leaves instead. Additionally, I dramatically reduce the amount of sweetener in the dish. Otherwise my version is fairly traditional. I like to serve it with kimchi, scallions, sesame seeds, gochujang (a type of thick Korean hot sauce; I use it in my hot wings), thinly-sliced fruit (Asian pear or nectarines, depending on the season), and maybe cucumber.

    I live near a Korean market, and they sell pre-sliced beef specifically for bulgogi. I've seen shaved beef at other supermarkets, but it is usually a much fattier cut. You could always buy something like a top round London broil and either slice it yourself or ask the butcher to do so. Alternately, I've made the lettuce wraps with ground beef before. I find loose ground beef to be very messy in wraps so I form them into mini-meatballs when I do this. It makes a nice hors d'oeuvre.

    Serves 2-4 as a main dish, more as an appetizer

    • 1 lb thinly-sliced beef for bulgogi (preferably a lean cut such as top round)
    For the marinade:
    • 3 Tbs tamari or soy sauce
    • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
    • 1 scallion, finely chopped
    • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
    • 2 tsp dark sesame oil
    • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
    • 1/2 tsp-1 Tbs sweetener, to taste (honey, coconut sugar, stevia, or Splenda would all work)
    For serving, some or all of the following:
    • Lettuce leaves or Savoy cabbage leaves
    • Kimchi
    • Thinly-sliced Asian pear or nectarine
    • Julienned or sliced scallion
    • Toasted sesame seeds
    • Gochujang
    • Thinly-sliced or julienned cucumber
    1. Combine the beef with the marinade ingredients. Marinate for a couple hours or overnight.
    2. Broil the beef on high or cook in a very hot cast iron skillet until browned.
    3. Serve in lettuce or cabbage leaves with assorted garnishes.
    Variation: Use ground beef instead of sliced beef.

    Friday, July 15, 2011

    Eastern North Carolina style pulled pork

    Pulled pork with rutabaga faux-tato salad

    I've made a couple different types of barbecue sauce on this blog which provide alternatives to the typical sugar-laden ketchupy stuff. I made South Carolina style mustard barbecue, Texas-style barbecue brisket, as well as a tomato-based sauce using unsweetened ketchup and fresh strawberries. This is another delicious option. In eastern North Carolina, barbecue typically uses a thin sauce comprised of spices and vinegar. This is an ideal base for low-carb, low-calorie pulled pork.

    This recipe is based on one that has been floating around a message board I visit. No one is quite sure where it originated and everyone who makes it usually changes it a bit. So, I can't give credit to the original author, but I can assuredly say that everyone who has made this has loved it.

    Serves 4-6

    • Half an onion, thinly sliced
    • 1 pork roast, about 2.5 lbs. Pork butt/pork shoulder is traditional, but you can use lean pork loin if you are watching calories.
    For the spice rub:
    • 1 Tbs unrefined sugar (sucanat) or sweetener of choice (I used a packet of stevia mixed with a drop of molasses)
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper
    For the barbecue sauce:
    • 6 Tbs cider vinegar
    • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
    • 3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
    • 3/4 tsp sweetener of choice (stevia, Splenda, honey, etc...)
    • 1/4 tsp dry mustard (or 3/4 tsp prepared mustard)
    • 1/4 tsp garlic salt (I didn't have any on hand so I used Adobo seasoning instead)
    • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
    1. Combine the spice rub ingredients and use it to coat the pork roast. Place the onion in the bottom of your slow cooker and put the pork on top.
    2. Combine the ingredients for the sauce. Pour half of it over the pork roast.
    3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until it shreds easily with a fork. During the last 30 minutes of cooking, add the rest of the sauce.
    4. Shred the pork with two forks and combine with the sauce and juices in the slow cooker. Serve.

    Thursday, June 30, 2011

    Slow-Cooked Carnitas

    Served with avocado slices, fresh cilantro, and cauliflower Mexican "rice"

    I love carnitas, a Mexican braised pork dish. I wasn't sure what was in them, so I decided to Google a recipe. Rick Bayless is my go-to source for Mexican recipes, so I was excited to find that he has a recipe for these. However, it calls for, uh, 4 gallons of lard. No wonder they always taste so good! So, these are not authentic carnitas; it is more like a Mexican pulled pork. I remembered that the best carnitas I ever ate had Grand Marnier in them, so I included that too. Of course I made it in the slow cooker, so when I got home, the kitchen smelled wonderful and dinner was waiting for me!

    If you are watching calories, use a lean pork loin for this dish. Otherwise, you can use pork butt or shoulder.

    Number of servings depends on size of pork roast

    • 1 pork roast, anywhere from 1.5-3 lbs
    • 6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
    • 1 tsp ancho or pasilla chili powder (you can make this yourself by toasting and grinding dried chilies. In a pinch, just use regular supermarket chili powder). 
    • 1 tsp dried oregano
    • 1 canned chipotle pepper, finely minced
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional; leave this out if you don't like spicy food)
    • 1 tsp salt (Kosher or sea salt; use 1/2 tsp if using regular table salt)
    • 1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
    • 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 tsp agave nectar or honey (optional)
    • 1 orange
    • 1 lime (2 if your limes are not very juicy)
    • 50ml/about 1/4 cup orange liquor such as Grand Marnier (or substitute 1 Tbs orange extract, or use the zest from the orange)
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 1/2 cup chicken broth + extra if needed
    1. Combine the garlic, chili powder, chipotle, cumin, oregano, cayenne, salt, pepper, olive oil, and optional honey to form a paste. Set aside.
    2. Meanwhile, sear the pork on the stovetop on high heat until the outside is well-browned.
    3. Rub the pork with the spice paste. If you have a small pork roast, you may not use all of it.
    4. Put the pork in your slow cooker. Pour the Grand Marnier and the juice from the lime and orange over it. Pour 1/2 cup chicken broth around the pork and toss in the bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Cover and cook for 6-8 hours.
    5. Discard the bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Shred the pork with two forks and combine with the meat juices. You may add extra chicken broth to moisten if necessary.

      Monday, June 27, 2011

      Pistachio and goat cheese encrusted chicken with apricot mustard

      This was a really tasty and easy way to dress up chicken breasts. It is adapted from a Robin Miller recipe, but of course I made quite a few changes. I used crushed pistachios instead of macadamia nuts, and just mashed them with goat cheese crumbles instead of spreading each ingredient individually on the chicken breasts. Additionally, instead of honey mustard, I mixed dijon with a bit of sugar-free apricot preserves; I love the taste of apricot with pistachios. This was a really nice, easy weeknight supper. I served it with some roasted cauliflower, which was tasty, but unfortunately did not make for the prettiest plates.

      Serves 2 (can easily be doubled)


      • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 5 oz each)
      • 2 tsp dijon mustard
      • 2 tsp apricot preserves (sugar-free or fruit sweetened)
      • 1 oz roasted pistachio kernels, crushed with a mallet or coarsely chopped
      • 1.5 oz soft goat cheese (chevre)
      • Salt and pepper (or poultry seasoning of choice)
      1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
      2. Mash the pistachios and goat cheese in a bowl with a fork until well-combined. Set aside.
      3. Microwave the apricot preserves for 5-10 second to melt it if necessary. Combine it with the mustard. Set aside.
      4. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Set them on a lightly-greased baking sheet. Spread each one with apricot mustard, then top with the pistachio-cheese mixture. It is easiest if you place dollops of the pistachio mixture on top of the chicken and then kind of mash it in with your fingers.
      5. Cover pan with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes. Uncover and cook 5-10 minutes longer, or until the cheese is golden brown and melted. Serve.

      Wednesday, June 22, 2011

      Asiago-rosemary crisps, and easy microwave cheese crisps

      I've seen lots of low-carb cracker recipes, most of which involve a lengthy process of mixing a dough, rolling it out, cutting out individual crackers, and so forth. These are significantly easier: just bake grated cheese with seasonings until crisp. I baked grated Asiago and cracked rosemary in silicone mini-muffin trays so that they came out perfectly round. If you use mini-muffin trays, they MUST be silicone, otherwise they will stick. If you do not have one, you can mound up the cheese on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. While cheese is somewhat calorically-dense, each crisp has only about a teaspoon of cheese. Thus, a small amount of cheese is stretched a long way.

      Makes 24 crackers

      • 2 oz (weight) Asiago or other hard cheese such as Parmesan (about 1/2 cup grated)
      • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary (I used Penzeys cracked rosemary) or a teaspoon of minced fresh rosemary
      1. Preheat oven to 350 F
      2. If the Asiago is in a solid block, grate it on the small side of a box grater. Alternately, you can shred the cheese, freeze it on a plate for an hour, and then pulse it in a food processor until powdery.
      3. Toss the cheese with the rosemary. Place a teaspoon (approximately) of the mixture in a mini-muffin cup. Repeat with all 24 cups.
      4. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden but not brown. Rotate the pan halfway through.
      5. Let the crisps cool in the muffin tins, then peel them out. Store in the refrigerator. They will keep for about a week.

      One drawback is that using good-quality hard cheese doesn't get quite as crispy as I'd like. I've actually gotten the best results with supermarket semi-soft/semi-hard cheeses such as Monterey Jack or cheddar. You can easily make those in the microwave as follows.

      Here, I cut up a 50-calorie low-fat string cheese into 12 pieces (I've also cut it into 16 pieces before and I actually preferred that). Put each piece in the cup of a mini muffin pan. You can sprinkle them with any kind of seasoning you'd like, or leave them plain.

      Next, microwave for 30 seconds. Rotate the tray and nuke for another 15 seconds; repeat until crispy and somewhat browned. If your microwave is terrible like mine and cooks them unevenly, remove the finished ones as they are cooked. They will look like this as they cook:

      Remove the crisps from the pan when cool, and eat!

      ETA: This is one of my most pinned recipes so I wanted to update. I have made this many, many times, and I have found that this recipe works MUCH better with reduced-fat cheese rather than full-fat. Full fat cheese gets very oily and kind of crumbles. Reduced fat cheese puffs up nicely, gets crunchy, and the resulting "crackers" are very sturdy and perfect for dipping.

      Sunday, June 19, 2011

      Fluffy buttermilk pancakes (low-carb, gluten-free)

      Much like pizza, pancakes are one of those things that dieters, even low-carb dieters, refuse to give up. There are alternative pancake recipes all over the web, and I've probably made them all. Ultimately, this is what I've settled on as the most realistic alternative. It is based on coconut flour (which I briefly wrote about here) and uses whipped egg whites to create lift and fluffiness. I served these with a homemade blackberry compote, which I made by following these instructions except I substituted blackberries for raspberries and cut back on the sweetener.

      Serves 2

      • 2 eggs, separated (make sure not to get any drops of yolk in the white)
      • 1/2 cup liquid egg whites or egg substitute (or 4 fresh egg whites)
      • 1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup almond milk + 1/2 Tbs lemon juice or vinegar)
      • 1 tsp vanilla extract
      • 1 Tbs unflavored or vanilla protein powder 
      • 1/4 cup coconut flour (use a finely-milled brand such as Bob's Red Mill)
      • 1 tsp baking powder
      • Dash of cinnamon (optional)
      • Sweetener to taste if using unsweetened protein powder (optional; I used a packet of stevia)
      • Butter or oil for greasing the pan
      1. Beat the egg whites that came from the whole eggs with a big pinch of salt. Use an electric mixer with whisk attachment to beat the whites until they reach soft peaks. Set aside.
      2. Combine the buttermilk, egg yolks, liquid egg whites, and vanilla extract in a medium-sized bowl and whisk well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut flour, protein powder, baking powder, and cinnamon. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk until thoroughly combined.
      3. Fold the whipped egg whites into the batter mixture, being careful not to deflate the whites (here is a video that shows the procedure for folding egg whites).
      4. Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium-low. For each pancake, spray lightly with oil or grease with a bit of butter. Pour a quarter cup of batter into the skillet, shaking lightly to distribute batter (it will be slightly mounded up due to the beaten egg whites). Cook until bubbles are visible on top, then flip the pancake over and cook until the other side is golden brown. Serve immediately.

      Tequila-lime grilled chicken

      This is quickly becoming my favorite marinade for grilled chicken breasts. Extremely flavorful, few ingredients, and the lime juice does a nice job of tenderizing the meat. For serving, I made a sort of beefed-up taco salad with lots of veggies. At the bottom of the bowl is spicy cauliflower "rice" (recipe follows). I also put a spoonful of it on top so that you can see in the photo; I accidentally overprocessed the cauliflower a bit but you can see a better-looking version of cauliflower "rice" in this recipe. I topped it with a combination of shredded romaine and shredded lacinato kale, added in some fajita veggies (sauteed peppers, onions, and mushrooms), and served it with low-fat sour cream, guacamole, and salsa.

      Serves about 4

      • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
      • 1/2 cup freshly-squeezed lime juice
      • 1/2 cup tequila (cheap stuff is fine for this)
      • 1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
      • 1/4 cup minced cilantro
      • Lots of fresh garlic, minced (I used about a whole head; if you're lazy you can probably just crush the cloves instead of mincing them)
      • 1 tsp salt
      • Chili powder or fajita seasoning to taste (I use Penzeys Chili 3000)
      1. Combine all ingredients except for the chili powder in a galloc zipper lock bag. Place the chicken breasts in it and let it marinade at least 4 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.
      2. When ready to cook, remove chicken breasts from marinade. Brush off the cilantro and garlic as well as you can. Sprinkle with chili powder or fajita seasoning and grill until cooked through. Serve.
      Serves about 4

      • Half a head of fresh cauliflower, stemmed and cut into chunks
      • 1 small can of diced tomatoes with chiles such as Ro*Tel, very well drained
      • Large pinch of garlic powder
      • Salt and pepper to taste (I used about 3/4 tsp salt)
      1. Pulse the cauliflower in a food processor until it resembles grains of rice.
      2. Combine the cauliflower with the other ingredients in a microwave-safe dish. Cover and microwave for 2 minutes on high. Stir, taste, and microwave for another minute or two if necessary. Repeat until it reaches the desired consistency.

      Saturday, June 18, 2011

      Klondike bars

      A problem with low-carb ice cream is that, without sugar, it quickly hardens in the freezer so that it is difficult to scoop. So, I came up with a solution: if I make ice cream into single-serving hand-holdable bars, no scooping is required. I decided to make peanut butter flavored ice cream using PB2 with a dark chocolate coating.

      Here's the basic idea:
      1. I made a double-batch of Lauren's cottage cheese "ice cream" using stevia to sweeten.
      2. I followed the directions from for making homemade ice cream bars. You can see how they did it, along with pictures of the process, here.
      3. Instead of tempering chocolate as per's instructions, I made an easy chocolate shell coating in the microwave. I used unsweetened chocolate plus stevia.

      I definitely recommend making these! It's easier than it sounds, and I guarantee that no one will know that it is a healthier version.

      Makes 8 bars

      • 2 cups cottage cheese (low-fat or fat-free is fine)
      • Sweetener to taste (enough to equal about 1/2 cup sugar; I used stevia)
      • Flavoring of choice. For peanut butter, I used 1/2 cup PB2 plus 1/4 cup liquid egg white to compensate for the extra powder added. For traditional vanilla flavor, just add a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.
      • 2 Tbs vodka (to help keep the ice cream soft and creamy)
      • 7 oz unsweetened chocolate
      • 2 Tbs coconut oil or non-hydrogenated palm shortening
      • Additional stevia or sweetener to taste, for chocolate coating
      1. Puree the cottage cheese, sweetener, flavoring, and vodka in a blender until completely smooth. Pour into an ice cream maker (I use this one) and freeze according to manufacturer's directions.
      2. Line a 9"x5" loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving a substantial amount of overhang. Pack the ice cream into the lined loaf pan, cover with the overhanging plastic wrap, then press down with the bottom of a glass to distribute evenly. You can see photos of these steps here. Freeze until solid, at least three hours or overnight.
      3. Line a baking sheet with wax paper or parchment paper, taping it down at the corners. Remove the frozen ice cream from the loaf pan in a single block. Cut into 8 equal squares. If you have trouble cutting it, run the blade of your knife in hot water. Place each square on the baking sheet, spread apart so that they are not touching, and re-freeze for at least two hours.
      4. When ready to dip the ice cream bars, finely chop the unsweetened chocolate. Place in a deep microwave-safe bowl with coconut oil or palm shortening. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir in the sweetener, then microwave for another 30 seconds. Stir until completely melted.
      5. Working one at a time, drop a square of frozen ice cream in the chocolate shell. Quickly turn it over, pull it out with a fork, and shake off excess chocolate. Scrape the bottom of the fork against the rim of the bowl to remove excess chocolate coating. Place the dipped ice cream bar back on the wax paper lined baking sheet. See step 11 here for photos. Repeat with all ice cream squares.
      6. Freeze until solid, at least two hours. To store, wrap first in plastic wrap, then in foil.

        Tuesday, June 14, 2011

        Philly cheese steak melts

        This isn't so much a recipe as it is an idea for dinner. My local Korean market sells beef that is sliced paper-thin for bulgogi, but I more often use it for this particular meal. You could alternately ask the butcher to thinly slice a steak for you, or do it yourself.

        Serves however many you want, I made it for two people.

        • Bell peppers, thickly sliced (I used one small red and one small green)
        • Onion, thickly sliced (I used half a Vidalia) (note: as a shortcut, you can use a bag of frozen pepper and onion stir fry, such as this one, in place of fresh peppers and onions)
        • Sliced mushrooms (optional; I used about 4 oz)
        • Thinly-sliced beef 
        • Sliced provolone cheese or cheese of choice
        • Optional add-ons: bacon, mayo, olives...whatever you eat on a Philly!
        • Salt and pepper or seasoning of choice (I like Penzey's 4/S)
        1. Saute the onion and mushrooms in a lightly-greased skillet over medium-high. Once the onions start to soften, add in the peppers. Saute until everything is cooked. Set aside.
        2. Add some additional oil or butter to the skillet. Cook the meat on high until browned and cooked through.
        3. Turn the heat down to low, add the vegetables to the skillet, and season everything with salt and pepper. Place cheese slices over the top, cover the pan, and cook until cheese is melted. Carefully spoon it out with a spatula and serve.

        Monday, June 13, 2011

        Steak salad with fermented black bean dressing

        One of my favorite Chinese dishes is beef chow fun with fermented black bean sauce. Of course, I rarely indulge in such dishes. However, my favorite component is really the beef and the sauce; I could take or leave the noodles. So, perhaps it only makes sense to serve the beef and sauce over lots of veggies. This is adapted from a flank steak recipe from Sunset magazine, but I tweaked it quite a bit.

        I decided to make the beef in the oven, but if you don't want to heat up your kitchen, of course you could use the grill instead. I used an oven-grilling method that I read about in Cook's Illustrated and I absolutely loved the results. This is probably my new go-to cooking method for London broil. Just be sure to slice it very thinly as otherwise it may be tough. An electric carving knife was very helpful here.

        Serves 4 as a main dish


        • 1 top round London broil (about 1.5-2 lbs), excess fat and gristle trimmed
        • 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
        • 1/2 cup low-sodium beef broth (chicken broth would probably work too)
        • 1/4 cup fermented black beans, rinsed
        • 3 Tbs shao xing wine or sherry
        • 3 Tbs grated fresh ginger
        • 1/3 cup rice vinegar or cider vinegar (I used cider vinegar)
        • 1 tsp honey
        • 2 oz roasted salted peanuts or cashews, crushed
        • 1 red bell pepper, diced
        • 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
        • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
        • Salad greens of choice (I used a baby spinach blend)
        1. Combine the tamari or soy sauce, broth, wine or sherry, ginger, vinegar, beans, and honey. Marinate the steak in this mixture overnight.
        2. When ready to make the salad, preheat the oven to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes. Remove the steak from the marinade and pat dry, reserving all of the marinade. Lightly grease a heavy cast iron skillet (I used coconut oil) and heat on the stove on high heat for 3-5 minutes. As soon as the steak smokes (about 5 seconds), transfer to the oven. Cook for 3.5-4 minutes, turn steak, cook for another 3.5-4 minutes, then remove from oven and let the steak rest for 5 minutes. Slice paper thin on the bias against the grain.
        3. Meanwhile, boil the reserved marinade until reduced by half. When the steak is done cooking, add any accumulated meat juices from roasting or slicing to the dressing.
        4. Mound salad greens on four plates. Top with bell pepper and scallions. Top with sliced steak and sprinkle with cilantro and crushed peanuts. Drizzle with the warm dressing and serve.

        Wednesday, June 8, 2011

        Strawberry cheesecake ice cream

        The great thing about having an ice cream maker is that you can pour pretty much anything in there and it comes out resembling ice cream. My go-to is pureed cottage cheese, but I decided to attempt freezing cheesecake batter. I baked some low-carb grain-free graham crackers for making graham cracker crumbs. I will supply the recipe for doing so, but there are certainly easier options. You could buy some pre-made graham cracker crumbs and just use them sparingly. Or, you could toast some coarsely-ground almonds with cinnamon and sweetener. I think that the Emerald cinnamon roast almonds taste a lot like graham crackers; you could probably crush those up and use them as a topping. 

        In any case, this was seriously good.

        Serves about 4

        • 12 oz straberries, washed, stemmed, and sliced
        • 6 oz cream cheese (full fat or Philadelphia brand low fat), cubed and softened
        • Sweetener (your choice; I used stevia) to equal 3/4 cup sugar
        • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
        • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
        • 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
        • 1 Tbs vodka (optional; use if you are planning to keep the ice cream in the freezer for a while, as it will keep it soft)
        • Graham cracker crumbs (see above description for diet-friendly ideas, or use the below recipe to bake your own)
        1. In a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients except for the strawberries and graham cracker crumbs. Puree until smooth.
        2. Stir in the strawberry slices. 
        3. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.
        4. Serve topped with graham cracker crumbs.

        • 1/2 cup coconut flour
        • 2 scoops plain or vanilla whey protein
        • 1/4 cup almond flour
        • 1/4 tsp salt
        • 1 tsp baking powder
        • 1 tsp cinnamon (I used Penzeys Vietnamese cinnamon)
        • 1 Tbs good-quality raw honey
        • Sweetener to taste (I used stevia; amount depends on the sweetness of your protein powder. Start with the equivalent of 1/4 cup sugar, taste, and add more if necessary)
        • 6 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
        • 2 tsp vanilla extract
        • 1 egg + 1 egg white (or 6 Tbs liquid egg white or egg substitute)
        • Extra cinnamon and granular sweetener for sprinkling
        1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
        2. Combine all dry ingredients (except sweetener) in a bowl and set aside.
        3. Cream the butter in a standing mixer or electric hand mixer. Add the egg, vanilla, sweetener, and honey. Beat until smooth. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients.
        4. Form dough into a ball and place on a large sheet of parchment paper. Top with another sheet of parchment. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a large rectangle about 1/8"-14" thick, then remove the top sheet of parchment. Use a pizza cutter to trim the edges and score the dough into large crackers. Prick all over with a fork. Sprinkle with extra cinnamon and granular sweetener. 
        5. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool and serve.

        Sunday, June 5, 2011

        Strawberry pulled pork, blue cheese and apple slaw

        After reading The End of Overeating, I started making a conscious effort to sweeten my food less. Whether it's Splenda, stevia, dates, honey, agave, or whatever else, I started forcing myself to use less sweetener and enjoy simpler flavors. My palate has since adjusted, and conventional barbecue sauce now tastes candy sweet to me. This recipe is a different. In this crockpot pulled pork, I use unsweetened ketchup and add whole strawberries to the sauce for a natural, mild sweetness. Berries are nutritional powerhouses and are relatively low-carb, so I include them in my diet. I did add a spoonful of molasses, but that was mostly for flavor and you can certainly leave it out if you prefer. It sounds strange, but I loved the taste of the strawberries with the barbecue. In fact, I wish that I had added some of them toward the end of cooking, as they completely fell apart and I think some strawberry chunks would have been nice. Blue cheese and apple slaw was a perfect and slightly unconventional accompaniment, adapted from this recipe. I used Marie's brand yogurt-based blue cheese dressing, which had a mild flavor and is relatively low-calorie. I used half a diced green apple; you can use more or less, depending on your taste and dietary needs.

        Serves 4-6

        • 1 pork roast, 2-3 lbs
        • 1/2 cup unsweetened ketchup or ketchup of choice
        • 1 Tbs molasses (optional)
        • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
        • 1/4 cup yellow mustard (I've tried dijon and other nicer mustards in BBQ sauce, it never tastes right)
        • 1 lb strawberries, washed and stemmed (I used a bag of frozen strawberries and dumped them in without thawing. You can alternately slice half of the strawberries and add them about 30 minutes before serving to get more strawberry chunks.)
        • 4 cloves garlic, minced
        • 1 Tbs fresh minced rosemary or 1 tsp dried rosemary
        • 1 tsp hot pepper sauce such as Tabasco (I used 2 tsp green Tabasco)
        • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke or 1 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
        • Salt and pepper to taste
        1. Season the pork on all sides with salt and pepper and place in the slow cooker.
        2. Combine all remaining ingredients and pour over the pork.
        3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Remove the pork and shred it with two forks. If desired, transfer the sauce to a saucepan and reduce until thick. You can add some additional tomato paste to thicken.
        4. Combine the pork with the sauce and serve warm.
        Serves 4-6

        • 1 8oz bag shredded cabbage for cole slaw
        • 1/4 cup blue cheese dressing such as Marie's yogurt-based
        • Half of a Granny Smith apple, diced (use less if you restrict carbs significantly)
        Combine all ingredients and chill.

        Thursday, June 2, 2011

        Other peoples' recipes

        This is a different sort of post than I normally make. Rather than posting one of my own recipes, I thought I'd toss up some links to recipes from other food bloggers. These are recipes that have become staples for me that I find myself making over and over again. If you enjoy this, let me know in the comments and I'll do a link dump every so often.

        The kimchi, bacon, and shittake omelette from Closet Cooking is probably my husband's favorite dish that I have ever made. It sounds strange, but it is so tasty and easy to make. I always keep a big jar of kimchi around so that I can make it on a whim. The omelette filling would definitely translate well to other dishes, such as the pizza I made.

        There are about a million recipes for grain-free protein pancakes out there, but this one is my favorite. I love the pumpkin protein pancakes from I Love Feta Cheese. I also add a teaspoon of baking powder to make them extra fluffy. I prefer the protein pancakes that use a veggie like pumpkin to add some extra nutrition.

        I'm a huge fan of the green chile egg casserole from The Fitnessista (scroll down that page for the recipe). It's sort of like a crustless quiche, but I really like the texture from adding sour cream. Sometimes I substitute egg whites or Eggbeaters for some of the eggs and it's still great. If I have some scallions on hand I might add some of those as well.

        Red Curry-Roasted Salmon with Green Beans, Red Bell Pepper, Mint, and Basil from Sidewalk Shoes is incredibly easy and tastes far more complicated than it is. I use Thai basil and I generally buy the bags of pre-washed destemmed green beans to make it even simpler.

        These are more of a once-in-a-while treat due to the high calorie content, but the snickerdoodles from Genaw are my husband's all-time favorite cookies, low-carb or otherwise. He will take these over conventional flour-and-sugar cookies any day.

        Finally, now that it is summer, I'm often in the mood for frozen treats. The frozen cottage cheese "ice cream" from Healthy Indulgences is a protein-packed way to satisfy my sweet tooth.

        Wednesday, June 1, 2011

        Filipino Chicken Adobo, Coconut-Cilantro Cauliflower "Rice"

        After reading about how simple Filipino chicken adobo is to make, I had to try it myself. I couldn't believe how good it is! This may become a new staple, as it's so easy to make and uses ingredients that I always have around the house. For the accompaniment, I made a simple cauliflower "rice" (cauliflower that has been pulverized to resemble grains of rice) flavored with cilantro, scallions, and toasted coconut.

        Serves 2-4

        • 4 chicken thighs
        • 3/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
        • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
        • 5 garlic cloves (more or less), smashed (peeling them is not necessary)
        • 2 bay leaves 
        • 1 chipotle pepper, chopped
        • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
        1. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan with 1 cup water. 
        2. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a slow simmer and cook, covered, for about 30 minutes or until done, turning halfway through.
        3. Meanwhile, line a broiler pan with foil and heat the broiler on high. Remove the chicken from the pot, gently pat dry with paper towels, and place skin side up on the pan. Broil until the skin is crisp.
        4. While chicken is broiling, reduce the cooking liquid to 1 cup. Strain out the solids and serve alongside the chicken and "rice".
        Serves 4-8

        • 1 head cauliflower, leaves and large stem removed, cut into chunks
        • 1/3 cup (heaping) unsweetened coconut flakes
        • 1/2 Tbs fresh grated ginger or 1/2 tsp good-quality ground ginger
        • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (depending on how spicy you like it)
        • 1 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
        • 1/2 cup roughly chopped scallions
        • 2 tsp coconut oil (probably optional)
        • Salt to taste
        1. Toast the coconut flakes in a 350 degree oven (I used the toaster oven) until golden brown.
        2. Pulse the cauliflower in a food processor until it resembles rice. Set aside and wipe out food processor bowl.
        3. Put all remaining ingredients in the food processor. Blend until very finely chopped.
        4. Combine the mixture with the cauliflower. Place in a large microwave-safe dish. Cover and microwave on high for about 4 minutes. Toss with a fork and taste. Cook for another minute or two if necessary. 

        Wednesday, May 25, 2011

        Tandoori chicken burgers

        Something about summer makes me want to eat burgers. This is a unique variation. I was planning to make tandoori chicken for dinner, but due to a very good sale on ground chicken I got the idea to burger-ize it. Typically I mix tandoori spices with yogurt for a chicken marinade. Instead, I combined ground chicken with spices and served it with a homemade cilantro raita for the yogurt component. As usual, I served the patties bunless over a bed of greens (in this case, baby spinach, romaine, radicchio, and arugula). Diced mango complemented the flavors perfectly and I urge you not to leave it out. Since I watch my carbs, I just used a tiny bit, but it was enough. You can always slice it thinly to make it stretch further. 

        Variation: For my dairy-free readers (I have a bunch!), I am sure that you could substitute a cilantro mayo for the raita. Just combine mayonnaise with minced cilantro leaves, cumin, garlic, and perhaps a little mango chutney or sugar-free mango syrup, and add sliced cucumber atop the burger (or add cucumber chunks to the salad).

        Serves 4

        • 1 lb ground chicken or turkey (the stuff I used was marked 93% lean)
        • 1 Tbs tandoori seasoning. I bought a bag of it that I found in my local Oriental market. Penzeys also makes a good tandoori blend. If you wish to make your own, this looks like a decent recipe.
        • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
        • 1 Tbs minced fresh ginger (probably optional)
        • 1 beaten egg or 1/4 liquid egg white or egg substitute
        • Salt to taste
        • 1 fresh mango, diced or sliced
        • Bed of greens for serving
        For the raita:
        • 8 oz Greek yogurt
        • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
        • 2 Tbs minced fresh cilantro
        • 1/2 tsp cumin
        • Pinch of garlic powder or 1 small clove garlic, minced
        • Salt to taste
        1. Combine the ingredients for raita. Set aside in the refrigerator.
        2. Combine the ground chicken, egg, scallion, ginger, tandoori seasoning, and salt. Shape into four patties. 
        3. Cook in a lightly-oiled skillet over medium-high heat, about 3-4 minutes on each side, then turn down heat to medium-low, partially cover, and cook until done throughout with no raw meat.
        4. Serve atop salad greens with diced mango. Put a blob of raita on top and serve.

        Sunday, May 8, 2011

        Burgers stuffed with scallions and Camembert

        Yikes! Long time no post! I guess we all need a break occasionally...but rest assured, I have some great recipes queued up!

        Made some burgers. Stuffed 'em with Camembert, scallions, grainy mustard, and some other assorted yumminess. Ate 'em bunless, topped 'em with a fried egg (though the egg is underneath the patty in this photo). Enough said? I think so.

        Makes 4 burgers


        • 1 lb ground beef (I used 90% lean grass-fed)
        • 4 scallions, thinly sliced or minced
        • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (less if you do not like spicy food)
        • 4 oz (weight) Camembert cheese, rind removed and cut into four slices
        • 1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil (I didn't measure this so I'm estimating)
        • About 4 tsp grainy mustard
        • 1/2 tsp salt
        • 4 eggs (optional, if you want to top the burgers with fried eggs)
        • Greens and chopped tomatoes, for serving
        1. Combine the scallions, cayenne, olive oil, and salt in a small bowl. Vigorously combine, crushing the scallions a bit with a fork or the back of a spoon.
        2. Divide the ground beef into eight equal balls, then flatten them out into patties. Spread four of them with mustard, top with a slice of Camembert, then spoon 1/4 of the scallion mixture on top. Top with the four remaining plain patties and press the edges together to make stuffed burgers.
        3. Broil or grill for about 4 minutes on each side. Meanwhile, fry eggs if desired to over-medium. Top plates of salad greens with burger patties, then top each patty with an egg.

        Friday, April 1, 2011

        Crispy roast chicken with artichokes, turnips, and sun-dried tomatoes

        Nothing beats a good roast chicken. Lately, I like to get a whole chicken but ask the butcher to cut it up for me. It cooks up quickly and you don't have to carve a whole bird, but it stays very moist and tender.

        I like to throw some veggies in the roasting pan. I added red potatoes for my husband and the much-lower-carb turnips for myself. I also threw in about a head's worth of garlic cloves and plenty of artichoke hearts. Olive oil, fresh herbs, and sun dried tomato (I used smoked sun dried tomato) added lots of flavor, making an easy one-pan dish.

        Serves 4-6

        • 1 whole chicken, separated into ten pieces (2 wings, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, and the breast halves split crosswise resulting in 4 breast pieces)
        • 1/4 cup good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
        • 1 Tbs minced fresh rosemary 
        • 1.5 tsp minced fresh oregano or marjoram
        • 1 head garlic, separated into unpeeled cloves
        • 2 lbs peeled turnips or red potatoes, cut into wedges
        • 1 10-oz box frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted according to package directions
        • 1-4 Tbs julienned sun-dried tomato (to taste, depends on how much you like them)
        • Half a lemon
        • Salt and pepper or Penzey's Northwoods seasoning to taste
        1. Preheat oven to 375 F
        2. Combine the olive oil, rosemary, and oregano. Toss the chicken, turnips, garlic, and artichokes with the oil mixture, then spread everything out into a large roasting pan. Season the chicken liberally with salt and pepper or Northwoods seasoning.
        3. Roast uncovered for 45 minutes, rotating from lower-center oven rack to upper-center rack halfway through cooking.
        4. Sprinkle with sun dried tomato and squeeze the lemon juice over the top. Baste the chicken and roast for another 15 minutes. Baste it again halfway through.
        5. If desired, run everything under the broiler for 1-2 minutes for extra crispiness. 
        Make-ahead directions: Use 8 chicken thighs instead of one whole chicken. Do not thaw artichokes. Distribute everything between two 8x8 disposable foil roasting pans and freeze. This is what it looks like frozen in the pan:

        Friday, March 25, 2011

        My favorite pre-workout snack: sweet potato pie shake

        For anyone visiting my blog via my article on MDA, you may have noticed that I mentioned that, while I eat low-carb, I get some starchy carbs before a workout. This is my favorite pre-workout snack. Strict low-carbers can substitute pumpkin for the sweet potato, making this a pumpkin pie shake; a great way of getting your orange veggies.

        This uses coconut milk (for medium-chain fatty acids), sweet potato (a nice starchy medium-GI carb with lots of health benefits), cinnamon (improves insulin sensitivity), and whey protein (a fast-acting protein source). It works out perfectly to fuel my workouts!

        I use canned organic sweet potato puree because it's fast and easy. You can definitely cook and mash sweet potato ahead of time, though. If you do that, I recommend running the sweet potato through a food processor so that you can easily shake up the resulting puree up in a blender bottle. Otherwise you will need to use a blender.

        Serves 1

        • 1/2 cup sweet potato puree
        • 12 fl oz lite coconut milk (full-fat is too thick) or almond milk
        • 1/2 scoop (I use a 25cc scoop) of vanilla whey protein (I use True Protein whey isolate in natural premium vanilla, which is sweetened with stevia only. More info here.)
        • Lots of pumpkin pie spice and/or cinnamon (I use Penzeys)
        • Pinch of salt
        1. Shake up everything in a blender bottle.
        2. Drink
        3. Train hard!!

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