Category Archives: Low(er) Carb

Chicken with a Thai Peanut Sauce

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I am really struggling with posts.  I love finding interesting recipes from yesteryear; however, when I post such recipes, my page views go down.  But post something like Pizza Fondue or  Chocolate Chip Waffles and watch my page views skyrocket. Not really shocking, I know.  I want to put mostly healthy fare out in the world, but I’d also like people to actually read my blog.  So, I’ll keep plodding away hoping that for every Chicken Marengo that is a bit of a dud views-wise, but is awesome history wise, there’s a Maryland Fried Chicken that does pretty well.

I have pulled out my trusty pressure cooker again to make this recipe, which was inspired by a recipe I saw at Pressure Cooking Today.  First, I love the simplicity.  Sure, you can brown the chicken thighs, because that is what we are told “adds depth of flavor”, but you could skip it and the 20 minutes it takes to brown the thighs before you pressure cook them. Chicken thighs are just the best. Cheap and they can withstand a bit of overcooking and the rigors of the pressure cooker.  To make this dish low carb, instead of rice, I used finely chopped cauliflower roasted with toasted sesame oil and soy sauce.  My husband loved it.

Chicken with a Thai Peanut Sauce
Serves 4-6

1 – 2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil (or canola)
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed (about 8)
1/2 cup chicken broth or water
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce (or tamari)
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha Sauce
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons water
Fresh chopped cilantro for Garnish
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat oil in pressure cooker over medium high heat. Brown chicken in batches. Place browned chicken aside on plate. Drain liquid or oil, leaving about 1 tablespoon behind.

Add broth, peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, fish sauce, ginger, and Sriracha Sauce to pressure cooker. Whisk together until well combined. Return Chicken to pressure cooker. Cook chicken for 9 minutes at high pressure. It will take about 10 minutes for your pressure cooker to reach high pressure. After 9 minutes at high pressure, remove pressure cooker from heat. After pressure has fallen significantly, use the quick pressure release. Please consult your pressure cooker instructions, if you have any concerns or questions. Each cooker is different.

In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water. Once the pressure is released, open the pressure cooker carefully (lid facing away from you!) and remove chicken to a plate and cover. Whisk cornstarch mixture into the peanut sauce. Bring sauce to a slight boil. Return chicken to pot to coat with sauce and serve over rice or cauliflower “rice”.

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can find a slow cooker version of this recipe here.

Tuna Salad

 

 

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I’m not a tuna fan.  Opening a can of tuna is one of my least favorite things to do in the kitchen.  My husband, however, is a huge fan.  HUGE.   We have very different tastes, to put it mildly.  One day he came home with tuna salad from the Whole Foods deli.  He remarked about how amazing it was and how I should try it.  I did.  For tuna salad, it was pretty good.  Then I saw the price.

$10,99 a pound.  Seriously!?!?  Are there gold flakes in it?  I pay less for steak! That’s right, you can go to the meat counter and get a nice steak for less money.  And I’m paying more for tinned tuna?  Consider the gauntlet thrown.  Can I make this cheaper?  Yes, I can! Even using dolphin safe, pole caught, made in America tuna. Although, this recipe would be much, much cheaper using less expensive tuna.  Not that I would.  I’m all for made in America.

First, I had to deconstruct the Whole Foods salad.  Corporate espionage, if you will.  The tuna was definitely higher end, and the salad was studded with olives.  Where go olives, there are usually capers.  The usual suspects of onion and celery were there in the salad as well.  Seriously, this was no big deal.  And, I got to customize it.  My husband likes a wet salad, so I added lemon.  I also added garlic powder.  I’m not a fan of biting into raw garlic.  Finish the whole thing off with some mayo, salt and pepper, and….. mission accomplished!

These measurements are relative.  It’s not like you can really mess this salad up.  If you like more onion or celery, by all means you more!

Tuna Salad
Makes about 2-3 Servings

2 5 ounce tins of tuna, drained
1/2 stalk celery, chopped fine
1/4 onion, chopped fine
1/4 cup olives, medium chop
1 tablespoon capers, drained
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3-1/2 cup of mayonnaise (to taste)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine the tuna, celery, onion, olives, capers and garlic powder in a bowl. Break up the chunks of tuna if they are too large.  Add mayonnaise until you reach your preferred consistency. Sample the salad and salt and pepper to taste.

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Cauliflower “Mac and Cheese”

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I miss pasta. I really, really, really do.   Really, really good mac and cheese that is homemade is so luscious, rich, thick and, well, sinful.

Does this recipe replicate it? Eh. It’s rich and it’s creamy. But is cauliflower ever going to be confused with quality pasta? No. On the other hand, there’s no bloat from carb overloading and no out of control blood sugar responses. All things considered, this is an amazing vegetable side dish!! You’ve got a ton of cauliflower in a form that people will eat. Two pounds of frozen cauliflower barely escapes a dinner with four diners. Crazy for cauliflower. Honestly, we love this dish. I make this all the time. It’s quick, the ingredients are available year ’round, and even the kids eat it!

Also, it uses up some random items that I always have laying around: shredded cheese and sour cream. Taco night never seems to use all these items up.

Some caveats about this recipe. I make real mac and cheese and feel that this recipe should be no different. Take your low fat cheese, your Greek yogurt, your low fat yogurt, chicken stock and whatever other “lighteners” you have and don’t put them in here. You have already subbed out the pasta. Live a little and splurge.  Seriously.

Also, keep in mind that the sauce is covering two pounds of cauliflower. Cauliflower is very, very wet. Especially when baked. It’s the opposite of pasta, instead of absorbing sauce, the cauliflower will be adding water to the sauce.  So, this sauce will be very thick and rather over spiced. If you were to try a bit of the sauce, you would immediately think: too much salt, the woman is crazy. Oh, wait, the cayenne just hit!! Now it’s too spicy. And too thick. Don’t think those things until you’ve baked the whole concoction. If you cut back on the spices, your dish will be incredibly bland. If you waiver on the sauce and think it needs to be a touch thinner, it will won’t be thick and creamy at finish. It’s a delicate balance that will only reveal its perfection at the very end.

Cauliflower “Mac” and Cheese
Serves 6

2 pounds frozen cauliflower florets
1/3 cup water
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 mustard powder
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack and Cheddar Cheese, plus additional for topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 2 to 2 1/2 quart baking dish and set aside.

Place the cauliflower and water in a saucepan and cook the cauliflower until it’s not frozen anymore. You don’t want the cauliflower to be too soft because it is being cooked again in the oven. Thoroughly drain the water out of the pan.

In a small sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and stir for about 1-2 minutes. Add the milk and stir until really thick. Add the salt, cayenne, and mustard powder. Stir until well incorporated, and remove from heat. Add the sour cream and stir well. Add the cheese and stir until melted through.

I suppose at this point, I should tell you to pour the sauce over the cauliflower and stir well. It’s bad enough to clean the sauce out of the small pan, why make more work and have to clean it out of the cauliflower pan too? So, I put the cauliflower in the greased baking dish and pour the sauce over the cauliflower there. I then stir the mixture together until well blended and add cheese for the topping.

Cook until bubbling and the cheese is melted and just starting to brown.

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Cheesy Cauliflower Patties

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The low carb craze has made superstars out of some vegetables that at best were used to torture children in a previous life.  Kale.  Seriously.  Kale.  The only way kale is good is when it is cooked for a very long time in a ham hock gravy or in Kale and Andouille Soup.  There, I said it.  Kale becomes tolerable when cooked within an inch of its life and paired with a smoked pork product.

The next vegetable up for abuse is the poor man’s broccoli, cauliflower.  Cauliflower is tolerable when you add a signficant amount of dairy products to the mix.  I’ve made cauliflower puree, which can double as a quasi mashed potato substitute.   Cheesy cauliflower patties are now starting to trend, which would be the logical progression.  When I was a kid, my mom would make potato pancakes out of left over mashed potatoes.  After fending off dinosaur attacks, of course.  So, why not try to make fried patties out of cauliflower?  Well, cauliflower has no starch.  It also contains a lot of water.  You need a lot of help to make these suckers stick together.  This “help” likely defeats the purpose of choosing cauliflower, because it either adds carbs or gluten.  On the plus side, it’s probably far more healthy than what you were going to eat, even with the add-ins.

I saw purple cauliflower in the store and thought that maybe such a cool color would inspire the kids to give the dish a try.  My daughter did try it and didn’t really like it. Son and husband really liked it, as long as I didn’t try to say it was something that it wasn’t.  In other words, these were very good cheesy cauliflower patties.

As you can see above, I subbed the patties out for English muffins in Eggs Benedict.  These were really good.  A savory, cheesy bottom that you didn’t have to fight with, complimented the poached egg and Canadian bacon really well.  As a bonus, no need for asparagus, there was already plenty of veg on the plate!

The other time I used it, it was a vegetable for dinner.

 

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The patty served as a very nice compliment for my steak dish! I liked it and would make it again.  Definitely a different take and something to shake up the veggie routine in our house.  As a bonus, very easy to make!

Cheesy Cauliflower Patties
Makes about 6-8 Patties

6 cups roasted cauliflower florets (approximately)
1/2 cup easily meltable cheese (I used Monterrey Jack)
1/4 cup panko or bread crumbs
1 egg
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 cup butter or coconut oil (or vegetable oil)

Place all ingredients, except the butter, into food processor. Pulse until the cauliflower is coarsely ground. Remove mixture from processor and form into patties. The smaller and thinner the patties, the more likely they are to maintain their shape.

In a heavy bottomed skillet, over medium heat, melt the butter. When the butter just starts to foam, add the patties, careful not to crowd. When the patties are browned, carefully flip and cook until the other side is browned as well. About 3 minutes each side. Serve as desired.

Note:  I roasted the florets at 375 degrees fahrenheit in olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper for about 25 minutes, turning once.

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Chicken Big Mamou

http://dawnoffood.comI went to graduate school in New Orleans.  New Orleans blew my mind, food wise.   For one of our first food adventures, my mom and I ate at Paul Prudhomme’s K-Paul’s in the French Quarter.  All of the food was so lovely!  I looked at the menu and Chicken Big Mamou stood out as something I wanted to try, but I’m not a spicy food person.  The menu warned that it was a very spicy dish.  My mother scoffed and said that this is a restaurant, they’ll moderate it and make it so that everyone can eat it.

I fell for it and ordered it.  For me, it was inedible.    Beyond spicy.  Torture level hot.  I couldn’t tell you what it tasted like because it just felt like molten lava in my mouth.  My mom traded with me (thanks mom!) and ate it because she loves food spicy.  It was hot for her, but she loved it.  We bought the cookbook and made it at home.  Others had to appreciate how hot a dish can be!!

The men in the house ate it, but it looked like they were having a heart attack:  red faced, pouring sweat and clearly uncomfortable.

So, why make it?  Well, one it’s Mardi Gras season.  I didn’t want to do a shrimp creole or crawfish etouffee.   Two, my husband and son love spicy food.  They make their own hot sauce!  So, back to my enemy.  I looked at the recipe.  My goodness, what a fussy recipe!  Lots and lots of ingredients, and butter.  Lots of steps.  Ugh.  So, I googled it.  Prudhomme had changed the recipe!!   Wrap your head around that.  The recipe on his website is 1/10th the fussiness of the one in his fantastic cookbook.   But in reviewing it,  I was about to make it a lot less fussier.  This has now become an easy (and cheap!) weeknight meal that anyone can add into the rotation.

Don’t misunderstand what I’m going to say here, but while I love Prudhomme, his recipes are maddening.  Extra steps that don’t seem to add much turn homey recipes into complicated, time consuming affairs.  The  spice lists alone are daunting.  I never got the sense that people in the bayou would cook this way.  Maybe they did and I’m totally off base.  But, it just seemed like he was “fancying up” traditional recipes so that food critics would take Louisiana cooking seriously.

So, first he modified the recipe, then I “unfancied” it.  And it is really, really good and very true to the original.  Excellent entertaining dish as well!!

Chicken Big Mamou
Serves 4-6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes (40 are low effort simmering)

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
6-8 chicken thighs or legs
2 1/2 tablespoons Paul Prudhomme’s chicken magic, divided (see below for a substitute)
1 cup very finely chopped onions
1 cup very finely chopped celery
3/4 cup very finely chopped bell peppers
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (preferably cayenne, if you want it really hot!!)
2 cups tomato sauce
2 cups chicken stock or water
3/4 cup finely chopped green onions
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves

Heat olive oil and butter over medium heat in a large saute pan. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the poultry magic over the chicken pieces. Brown the chicken in the saute pan, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and set aside. Saute the onions and peppers in the remaining oil, until the onions are translucent. Add oil or butter if needed to prevent the veggies from burning. Add the remaining chicken magic, bay leaf , minced garlic, and cayenne pepper (if you want it really hot!) and cook for about a minute. Add 2 cups of tomato sauce and 2 cups of stock. Return chicken to the pan and simmer for about 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve over cauliflower “rice”, rice or pasta. Top with the green onions and parsley.

From “Top Secret Recipes“, Paul Prudhomme’s Chicken Magic:
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
dash cumin

Combine spices.

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Sardines

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This post was a really hard one to do.  Look at those pictures.  Sardines are not really “photogenic”.  However, they are incredibly delicious.  And SOOO simple to make.   I was walking through my local Whole Foods and came across fresh sardines.  $5.99 a pound.  For wild caught, fresh fish.   So, I bought a half a pound and figured why not?  They are incredibly heart healthy, they’ll cook quick for a weeknight appetizer splurge, and it’s about $3.00. I’ll take a chance for $3.

Marinated them in olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and thyme.  Threw them on a screaming hot grill pan.  At 20 degrees outside, I thought it was a touch cold.  After the thick smoke abated from my “open concept kitchen/dining room/living room”, I decided next time they would cook on the grill.  A scant few minutes later, we had an amazing appetizer.  They were gone in seconds.  To say that tasted amazing would be an understatement.  Again, didn’t look like much, but tasted great.

I was inspired by this recipe and the author’s incredible photos.  While I should have probably left the fish whole for picture purposes, I’m pretty sure the kids wouldn’t have eaten them with the “guts”.

As this is a fish recipe, please be careful to avoid eating the bones. Sardines have bones, and lots of them. Bones can pose a choking hazard.

Grilled Fresh Sardines
Prep Time: 1 hour (marinating)
Cook Time: about 6 minutes

¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon fresh thyme
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
½ pound sardines, cleaned, tails and heads intact.
finishing salt
lemon wedges to serve

Place the first 5 ingredients in a container and mix together well. Place sardines in container and marinate in the refrigerator for an hour.

Heat grill or grill pan moderately hot. If using grill, these fish are small, use a basket or some other device that won’t allow the fish to go through the grates. Place fish on grill, cooking on each side for about 3 minutes,  until done. Remove from grill, sprinkle with a bit of finishing salt (large crystal salt) and serve with a lemon wedge. Best eaten with hands, picking the fish from the bones. As with any fish, be careful with the bones!

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Lamb Shanks

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At some point during the 1990s, lamb shanks were “it”.  Long simmered with a dark, rich sauce and usually served with white beans.  The dish was everywhere.  Until it wasn’t.  Going through lots of cookbooks from the 1800s and 1900s, I don’t really find this dish until around the 1990s.  Not that it couldn’t have existed, but it wasn’t really wide spread.

The most popular cuts of lamb are “leg” and “chop”.  I am rather partial to the “shoulder” as well, but that’s fairly hard to come by in the regular grocery store.  Chops are crazy expensive, so I usually don’t buy them and truly hate when they are listed on a menu as “lollipop”.  Ugh.  Just no.  The leg is very nice and I cook with this often.  Today, however, I focus on the “shank”.

The shank is part of the animal’s lower leg.    As a result, it does a lot of work making the meat very, very tough.  There are a variety of ways to tackle toughness.  Long, low braising and pressure cooking.  This recipe is adaptable to both.  What I love about this recipe is that there is very little active time.  Most of the time you are hanging out waiting for either heat or pressure to do its thing.  Homework, bill paying and all the rest can be done, which is great for this working mom.  Lamb shanks can be on the table in less than an hour with the pressure cooker, or if I get home early, I can start dinner then set about doing my other mom duties.

As a bonus, lamb shanks also give the impression that someone with extreme culinary skills made the dish, when truly, they are not required.  You can’t really overcook this meat and it’s a very low maintenance recipe.

Lamb Shanks
Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 ½ hours in conventional oven, 35 minutes, pressure cooker

¼ cup lard, duck fat or bacon drippings (vegetable oil would be fine too)
4 lamb shanks
Salt and Pepper
1 onion, medium dice
3 stalks of celery, medium dice
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 ounces of mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon thyme
2 teaspoons rosemary
4- 5 medium carrots, peeled, large dice.
2 cups chicken broth (brown is preferred)
1 cup red wine (Cabernet -like)

Conventional Oven Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat. Sprinkle the lamb shanks liberally with salt and pepper. Place heated oil and brown, about 2 minutes a side. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Add onions and celery to the dutch oven. Cook until onions are translucent and celery is soft.  Scrape up any brown bits left over from the meat browning when the onions start to let off some liquid. Add mushrooms, thyme, rosemary and carrots. Cook until the mushrooms have given up some of their liquid. Add the chicken broth and wine and simmer until the alcohol is cooked out. Return the lamb shanks to the pot. Cover the pot and place in the oven to cook for 90-120 minutes, until tender.

Pressure Cooker Instructions:

Please follow your pressure cooker instructions for using your pressure cooker.

As above, heat the cooking fat in the pressure cooker, salt and pepper the shanks and brown them for about 2 minutes on each side.  Add onions and celery to the dutch oven. Cook until onions are translucent and celery is soft. Add mushrooms, thyme and rosemary. Cook until the mushrooms have given up some of their liquid.

Add the chicken broth and wine and simmer until the alcohol is cooked out. Return the lamb shanks to the pot. Make sure the shanks are at the appropriate height level for your pressure cooker. Add the lid to your pressure cooker and cook the shanks on high pressure for 25 minutes. Remove the pressure cooker from the heat and allow to cool down. When safe, remove the lid, add the carrots and return to the heat for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the pressure to cool down again. When safe, remove the lid and serve.

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