Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Chinese Pork and Green Beans

If I had to pick a favorite type of a food, it would be Asian.  I literally love every different kind from Japanese to Korean to Thai and anything in between.  The flavors are intense and interesting and I love the family style way of eating and sharing.  Growing up, I ate a lot of Chinese food because my mom loves it.  As a kid, I could not get enough of the pork and green bean dish and would order it every time.  My love for the dish has not wavered and luckily it is a low-carb recipe that is actually super easy to prepare. I love to use Haricoverts in this recipe which are a skinnier, more tender version of a standard green bean.  However, a standard American green bean will work just fine and be delicious.  I use ground pork but ground turkey works well too.  To create the amazing Asian favors, I combine hoisin sauce which is basically an Asian barbecue sauce, soy sauce and spicy garlic chili paste, which can all be found in a regular grocery store.  This recipe is very easy to throw together and cooks up fast.  It is an impressive dish and looks beautiful when served.  The next time you are craving some Chinese food, try this healthy dish instead!

This is what you need:

1 lb Ground Pork (Ground Turkey works too)
4 cups fresh Haricoverts (regular green beans are great too)
2 cloves Garlic - minced
1 tbsp Olive Oil
4 tbsp Hoisin Sauce
3 tbsp Soy Sauce
1-2 tbsp Garlic Chili Sauce (Siracha works well too)
2 tsp Sugar
2 tsp Cornstarch
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper

This is what you do:
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and with 1 tbsp Oil.  Add the ground pork, 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper and 2 tsp Cornstarch.  Break up the pork and mix with the seasonings well.  When just cooked through, add the minced garlic and the green beans.  Mix completely and cook for about 5-7 minutes.  While this is cooking, whisk4 tbsp Hoisin sauce, 3 tbsp Soy Sauce, 1-2 tbsp Garlic Chili Sauce, 2 tsp Sugar in a bowl.  Pour over the pork and green beans and mix so everything is coated.  Continue cooking until the green beans have reached your desired done-ness, about 5-10 minutes.  Serve alone, with rice or my Crispy Cauliflower Rice.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Total Time: 20-25 minutes
Serves: 4

Crispy Cauliflower Rice

For someone who is trying to eat low-carb or paleo, the cauliflower is the gift that keeps on giving.  It really can transform into so many things that people who are giving up carbs miss the most.  You know, things like pizza, mashed potatoes, bread-sticks, rice...everything that is off limits.  The cauliflower is packed with fiber and vitamin C and is low in fat and sugars.  The texture of a cauliflower changes with different cooking methods and the flavor is mild, which makes it a perfect substitute for so many comfort foods.  For this super simple recipe, it is all about turning the cauliflower florets into tiny rice like pieces and pan frying in a little bit of oil.  The cauliflower has a lot of water in it, so it can get turn mushy, because of this, we just use a small amount of oil and cook on medium high heat.  This makes a yummy, crispy rice like texture that goes so well with anything.  The possibilities are endless once you start this recipe so give it a try and have fun with it!

This is what you need:

1 head of Cauliflower (3 cups of "riced" cauliflower)
1 tsp Olive Oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp Pepper

Optional Seasoning:
Garlic Powder
Cayenne Pepper
Chili Powder

This is what you do:
Cut the cauliflower into small florets and place in a food processor.  Pulse the food processor 5-10 times to chop the cauliflower into rice like pieces, being careful to not turn it into mush. Add 1 tsp of oil, the riced cauliflower and salt and pepper to a pan and fry over medium high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  When desired crispiness is reached, remove and serve!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

Friday, March 27, 2015

Chicken, Avocado and Goat Cheese Salad in Endive Cups

Not long ago my daughters and I were invited to a play-date at one of my friends house.  She casually mentioned she would have lunch for the mommies there.  Since I am always looking for my next meal, my curiosity and hunger were peaked.  Mind you, I had already eaten lunch but that is neither here nor there.  When we arrived, I quickly sent my girls off to play and went to the kitchen to do what I do best (eat).  After I consumed my share and probably more, I asked her about it.  She explained to me that it was incredibly easy with no cooking required!  This salad uses a store bought rotisserie chicken (genius), avocado, goat cheese and the dressing is simply lime juice.  The cilantro and chives add a bright freshness and the whole thing can be eaten as is, in a tortilla, as a dip or on bread.  However, I love to use the salad to fill Endive (aun-deev) cups, which are little lettuce-type leaves that are crunchy and beautiful.  They have a slightly bittersweet flavor that works perfectly with this salad.  In this form, the recipe makes a beautiful and healthy appetizer for a dinner party or an easy and delicious weeknight dinner.  This might be the best thing to ever come out of a play-date!  Oh and my friend who threw this recipe together?  Not only is she an incredible cook and hostess, she also makes the sweetest clothes and accessories and has her own Etsy shop Little BumbleBees.  Check it out while munching on this yummy salad!

This is what you need:

1 Rotisserie Chicken
3 Avocados
The Juice of 1-2 Limes
20 Endive Leaves (or any lettuce cups would work perfect)
3 oz Goat Cheese
Handful of Cilantro Leaves
1 tbsp Chives - chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

This is what you do:
Remove all the meat from the chicken and chop into bite size pieces.  Chop the avocado and goat cheese in bite size pieces and add to a bowl.  Add the lime juice, cilantro and chives and gently mix to combine.  Salt and pepper to taste and fill the endive cups.  Serve and enjoy!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4-8

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Chili Rellenos Casserole

I love a good chili relleno and I doubt I am alone here.  How could a roasted green chili stuffed with cheese be wrong on any level?  The problem I have with them is that they are not necessarily in line with my "easy" way of cooking.  The roasting of the peppers, the peeling of the skin, the stuffing with cheese, the coating with egg whites, the frying... I mean, I am exhausted just typing the process out.  Naturally, I had to come up with an easier process to achieve similar results.  And what could be simpler than a casserole?  This low-carb recipe uses canned roasted chilis, cheese, eggs and milk and makes enough to feed a crowd.  Serve it alone, with grilled chicken and beans or wrap it up in a flour tortilla.  It is super versatile and can work as a breakfast or dinner dish and would make a fabulous addition to a potluck or holiday brunch.  

This is what you need:
1 27 oz of Roasted Green Chilies
6 Eggs
1 1/2 cups of Shredded Cheese
2 cups of Whole Milk
2 tbsp Flour
2 tbsp Hot Sauce
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
2 Green Onions Chopped (optional)

Optional Toppings and Sides:
Sour Cream
Hot Sauce
Chicken or Carnitas

This what you do:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Drain the canned chilies and slice them open so they lay flat.  Combine the eggs, milk, flour, hot sauce, salt, pepper and garlic powder in a bowl and whisk thoroughly.  Layer the bottom of a 9x13 glass baking dish with the chilies and over that add a large handful of cheese, then add another layer of chilies and cheese, then another.  There should be enough for 3 layers.  Over the top, pour the egg and milk mixture and add any remaining cheese.  Bake for 45-50 minutes until set and the top is browned.  Remove from oven, let sit for a couple minutes and serve!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 45-50 minutes
Total Time: 60-65 minutes
Serves: 8-10

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Roasted Radishes

For a long time, when I thought of a radish, it wasn't with much fanfare.  I tended to stay away from the root vegetable when they were on a veggie platter, even my own.  They are very beautiful, but as far as eating them raw, I was not a huge fan.  When my husband and I signed up for CSA Box deliveries, the radish was always included in the box.  I absolutely hate wasting anything, so I knew I needed to figure out a way to enjoy them.  I started experimenting with different ways to eat the radish, and now like them sliced super thin on tacos or sandwiches. However my absolute favorite way is to roast them.  It gives the peppery radish a much milder, almost sweet flavor and they crisp up like a potato, which is wonderful for us leading a low-carb lifestyle.  The look and taste is similar to a roasted red potato so it makes a perfect low-carb substitute.  The radish is extremely affordable and is packed with Vitamin C, fiber and very low in carbohydrates.  This recipe could not be easier and would make a wonderful side dish to any protein and is beautiful enough to serve at a dinner party or holiday.

This is what you need:

1 bunch of Radishes (14-16) 
1/2 tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Garlic Powder
1/8 tsp dried Oregano
1 tsp Lemon Juice

This is what you do:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Wash and quarter the big radishes, halve the smaller ones so they are all roughly the same size.  Mix with 1/2 tbsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp each of oregano and garlic powder.  Place them on foil lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Cook for 10 minutes, flip them around and roast for another 5-10 minutes until desired crispness.  Toss with the lemon juice and serve.  
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 15-20 minutes
Serves: 2 but this recipe can easily be doubled, tripled or quadrupled

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Mediterranean Couscous Salad

I need to declare my appreciation for the time change that occurred over the past weekend.  While we may lose an hour of sleep, we gain so much more.  Gone are the days of darkness at 4:30 pm, the kids going stir crazy in the house and when dinner, baths and bedtime seem to come even slower.  Now there is light, spring is in the air and in our house that means outdoor cooking and eating.  My husband is the ultimate grill-er and just loves firing up the barbeque to cook some "man" food (steaks, hamburgers, wings, the list goes on and on).  What this means to me is that I get to prepare side dishes and salads galore and one my absolute favorite spring/summer salads is this Mediterranean Couscous Salad.  If you are not familiar, couscous is just a very small form of pasta that is extremely versatile in how it is served.  I love to use Israeli couscous because it is slightly larger in size and has a softer, chewier texture that pairs extremely well with almost anything.  I take the already yummy couscous and season it, then add some of my favorite vegetables, fresh herbs, spicy arugula and most importantly, feta cheese.  This is all tossed in a bit of Italian dressing and served cold.  It makes an extremely healthy, beautiful salad that works so well as a hearty side dish to any protein.  It could also easily work as a main course by adding some grilled chicken or beef right in it.  Next time you need a simple, delicious salad or side dish for your cookout or grilling party, give this one a shot!

This is what you need:

2 cups dry Couscous (I prefer Israeli, but any kind is fine!)
2 cups Chicken Stock
3/4 cup Grape Tomatoes - sliced
3/4 cup Cucumbers - sliced
2 Green Onions - sliced
1/2 cup Dried Cranberries
1 cup Arugula (or Spinach)
1/2 cup Feta Cheese
2 Garlic Cloves - minced
1/4 cup Italian Parsley - chopped
1 tbsp Mint - chopped
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 tbsp Olive Oil
2 tbsp Italian Salad Dressing

This what you do:
Prepare the couscous to the package directions (use the chicken stock instead of water and add the garlic, salt and pepper to the stock) and chop the fresh veggies and herbs.  When the couscous is ready remove from heat and let come to room temperature, about 20-30 minutes.  Add the fresh veggies, herbs and feta cheese.  Refriderate and when ready to serve, remove from the refirdgerator and add the arugula and salad dressing.  Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.  Serve and enjoy!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Cool Down: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Serves 4-6 as a side dish

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Roasted Vegetable and Goat Cheese Enchilada Casserole

What is better than enchiladas?  An enchilada casserole!!  You may be wondering why...well, for the extremely important fact that an enchilada casserole is much easier to prepare than actual enchiladas.  Who has the time to roll each tortilla, when one can simply make tortilla layers?  Not me, but if you do and prefer to do it that way, this recipe will work for enchiladas too!  And trust me, no matter how you decide to prepare this dish, it will be fantastic.  How could roasted veggies, black beans, sweet corn and creamy goat cheese ever be wrong?  Take all of that goodness and add some extra cheese, tortillas and enchilada sauce and you have yourself a super easy but very impressive and beautiful looking dish.  This is perfect to serve at a dinner party because it is relatively affordable to feed a large group and it's also a great vegetarian option.  However, if you want to add chicken or beef, I doubt there would be any complaints.  Now, on to the recipe!

This is what you need:
12 Corn Tortillas
2 cans of Black Beans
1 can of Corn
12-14 oz of Red Enchilada Sauce
5 oz of Goat Cheese
1 cup of Shredded Cheese
1 Zucchini - chopped
1 Onion - chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper - chopped
1 cup Mushrooms - sliced
1 Jalapeno - chopped (optional)
2 cloves of Garlic - smashed
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1 tbsp Hot Sauce (optional) 

Optional Toppings:
Green Onions
Sour Cream

This is what you:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and chop the veggies.  Combine the zuchini, mushrooms, onion, bell pepper, jalapeno and garlic in a bowl and mix with 2 tbsp Olive Oil and 1 tsp each of salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes on a foil lined baking sheet, flipping them at 10 minutes.  Rinse and drain the beans and corn and add to bowl.  Remove veggies from the oven and lower the oven to 350 degrees, then and add to the bowl of beans and corn.  Add goat cheese and 1/2 cup shredded cheese and the hot sauce and mix well.  Pour a little enchilada sauce in the bottom of 9x13 glass baking dish and make a layer of tortillas.  Add half the bean and veggie mixture then another tortilla layer.  Add the second half of the mixture, the last tortilla layer and the rest of the sauce.  Then add 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and green onions to the top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and let set for 5 minutes.  Garnish and serve!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Serves 8-10

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Honey and Soy Glazed Salmon

You may have heard the American Heart Association recommendation to eat seafood twice a week.  This has shown to decrease the chance of cardiovascular disease and help improve and maintain brain function.  You know, pretty important stuff.  Well, I have a confession, I am not eating seafood twice a week, or even once a week.  And it is not because I don't like it, because I actually really do, it is more of just being stuck on other proteins like chicken and beef, but I am trying to change that. So when I found this recipe for salmon many years ago, I was excited.  In fact, this was the recipe I used when I made salmon for the first time.  It literally is fool-proof and takes ten minutes and it's delicious!  Over the years, I have tried to incorporate more salmon in my diet due to the Omega-3 fatty acids that are so good for the heart and brain and also skin, hair and nails and this recipe is my go-to way to prepare it.  The honey and soy sauce give the glaze that sweet and salty flavor combination that works so well with salmon.  The fresh lime juice adds an acidic bite while the Dijon mustard gives it just a bit of heat.  Just four ingredients to the glaze and the whole thing is cooked in one pan in 10 minutes.  This is a fantastic, healthy dinner that is as easy to cook for one person as it is for a family.  If you are unsure of eating or cooking salmon, this is a great recipe to start with!

Here is what you need:

1 lb Salmon fillet or 2 half pound fillets
2 tbsp Low Sodium Soy Sauce
2 tbsp Honey
2 tbsp Fresh Lime Juice
1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 tbsp Water
1 tbsp Vegetable Oil (coconut oil would be great here too)
Green Onions or Chives for Garnish

This is what you do:
Whisk the soy sauce, honey, Dijon mustard, lime juice and water in a small bowl and set aside. Heat the oil in medium frying pan over medium-high heat.  When hot, place the salmon skin side down and cover with a screen.  Cook for about 3 minutes then flip the salmon and cook for another 3 minutes, or until just cooked through.  Remove from pan and place on a plate or two.  Pour the soy sauce mixture in the same pan and let cook and stir for about 2 minutes, until it thickens to a glaze.  Pour directly over the salmon, garnish with green onions or chives and serve!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 1/2 pound of salmon per person.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Low Carb Margherita Pizza on Portobello Mushroom Caps

I do not think I am alone here when I confess my love for pizza.  It's a universally loved food item that sadly is not known for the health benefits.  Between the crust, the cheese and the processed meats, it can be a total diet buster.  So in order to adapt one of my all time favorite foods to fit a low-carb lifestyle and be a bit more health conscious, I have started using different vegetables as the crust.  One of the easiest veggies to use is the portobello mushroom.  Not only are they a wonderful way to get big dose of Vitamin D, they are also an easy way to portion control how much you eat.  Each mushroom cap is a filled with sauce, cheese and toppings and works as a personal pizza.  I happen to love margherita pizza on any crust, but the fresh basil and tomatoes work so well with the meaty portobello.  However, feel free to use whatever toppings you prefer!  These perfect little pizza make a quick and easy healthy dinner or work great as an appetizer for any dinner party. 

Here is what you need:

2 Large Portobello Mushroom Caps
2 tbsp Pizza Sauce (spaghetti or tomato sauce works great too)
1/2 cup Mozzarella Cheese - shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese - graded
1 tbsp Olive Oil
4-5 Cherry Tomatoes - sliced thin
4-5 Basil Leaves - torn
2 pinches of Salt
Cracked Black Pepper
1/8 tsp Garlic Powder
1/8 tsp of Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

This is what you do:
Heat oven to 400 degrees and wipe off mushrooms with a damp paper towel.  Take a spoon and scrape out the gills of the mushrooms and discard.  Place the mushrooms on a foil lined baking sheet top side up.  Drizzle the oil, salt, pepper and 1/8 tsp garlic powder over the mushroom cap.  Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes.  When done, flip them over and layer the ingredients just like you would a regular pizza then drizzle a bit more oil and salt and red pepper flakes over the top.  Return to oven and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted and gooey. Let stand for a few minutes to cool, then serve and enjoy!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Serves: 1-2 Mushroom Cap per person