Sunday, January 30, 2011

Low-Carb Lasagna Muffins- Work in Progress

I love the idea of meals in muffin tins. I've successfully made meatloaf in a muffin tin, which is sad, since I really don't even like meatloaf... but it was good. I've tried twice to make macaroni and cheese in muffin tins (which I know can be done, since I've seen it before!) But the two times I'm made the mac'n cheese muffins, they fell apart. And tonight I was going for lasagna in muffin tins. This was REALLY tasty, but they did not hold their shape either. I think the starch in a noodle would help hold them together. Or maybe the meat should have gone on the top or bottom instead of the middle? I'll post what I did, and if anyone has any suggestions, feel free to let me know! You do need a mandolin (you can buy them as cheap as $20) to get the slices as thin as possible on the zucchini.
Maddie and Izzie's plate.

Low- Carb Lasagna Muffins (Work in Progress)

3 zucchini
ball of fresh mozzerella (I used half the ball)
 6 tbsp cottage cheese or ricotta cheese (I prefer cottage cheese in my lasagna, but ricotta is more traditional)
melted butter to grease muffin tins with
Meat Sauce:
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb ground hamburger or ground turkey
6 cremini mushrooms, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp Italian seasoning 
1 small can of diced tomatoes
Bechamel Sauce
1.5 tbsp butter
1 tbsp arrowroot
1 cup heavy cream
pinch of nutmeg
salt & pepper

Start browning your meat in a small skillet with the olive oil. Add seasonings, garlic, mushrooms. Continue cooking until mushrooms are cooked. Add diced tomatoes and simmer on low while you prepare the bechamel sauce.

In a separate small pot, melt butter and add arrowroot. (I no longer use cornstarch*, since it is a processed food.) Whisk the arrowroot into the butter until incorporated. Whisk in the heavy cream, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Boil until thick, remove from heat.

Slice the zucchini as thin as you can with your mandolin. Crisscross three slices in the bottom of each muffin tin. The zucchini will go up the sides and over a bit. Put 1 tbsp cottage cheese, 1 tbsp meat sauce and 1 tbsp of bechamel sauce. Then cut the next layer of zucchini into 1 inch squares. Layer the cut zucchini over the bechamel. Top with thinly cut mozzerella. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until mozzerella is bubbly and brown. (I recommend putting a cookie sheet under the muffin tin so you don't boil over and make smoke in your house. I'm just talking from experience here!) Let cool a bit before trying to remove.

Mine got saggy in the middle, so if anyone has any advice for making them more firm, I'm all ears!

*The majority of the corn starch on the market is GMO (genetically modified organism) and cornstarch is a highly processed food ... here's an excerpt from an article on the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) website: "Corn starch is processed and refined from the kernels of corn by using a series of steeping (swelling the kernel), separation and grinding processes to separate the starch from the other parts of the kernel (which are used for animal feed.).The starch is hydrolyzed using acid, acid-enzyme, or enzyme-enzyme catalyzed processes

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bacon Cheeseburger Soup

I bought a PDF book called Simple Food {For Winter} from Nourishing Days blog a few days ago. One of the recipes in the very informative book was Cheeseburger Soup. For those that know me, know I can't follow a recipe. So this is my spin on her lovely dish.

Bacon Cheeseburger Soup

1 large onion
1 lb bacon (nitrate free)
1 lb hamburger meat
1 potato
3 carrots
3 cups of homemade bone beef stock
2-3 cups water
1 cup plus 1 cup of raw white cheddar
1/4 cup ketchup (either homemade, or a natural brand with no fake sugars)
1/8 cup mustard
1/2 cup spaghetti sauce (or diced tomatoes)
fermented pickles to garnish (Bubbies brand is recommended!)

Cut up bacon into small pieces and render in a big soup pot. When bacon crisps up, remove from pot, leaving bacon grease behind. Slice the large onion by first halving it and then making very thin half moon slices. Add onion to the pot, set to low and cover. Every 10-15 minutes stir, but otherwise let cook low and slow for 30-40 minutes. You want the onion to caramelize and this takes patience. Once onion is caramelized, remove it from the pot. Add ground beef. Season with salt and pepper and stir until broken up and browned. Add diced potato and diced carrots. Add beef broth and water. Stir in ketchup, mustard and spaghetti sauce. Add in 1 cup of freshley shredded cheddar. Put the onions back into the soup and simmer until potatoes are cooked through. Garnish with fermented pickles, bacon and more cheese.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Creamed Peas

When I was a kid, I hated peas. Seriously despised them! Then one day I decided to just "get over it!" I slowly taught my taste buds to accept peas in such dishes as Tuna Noodle Casserole and Shepard's Pie. Never did I think I'd eat an entire bowl of peas! But sure enough, one day I tried a bunch of peas mixed with mashed potatoes and ever since I have not had a problem with the little green balls. Now that Weight Watchers is a thing of the past and I'm learning all about good fats like cream, butter, lard, coconut oil and bacon grease an entire new world has opened up to me. Bring on the CREAMED vegetables! I mean, no wonder kids don't eat their vegetables, a steamed pile of bland soggy vegetables is nothing compared to ones cooked lovingly in butter and cream. And to think I'm feeding my brain with the healthy fat, getting in doses of vitamin A& D that you can't find in the plant world and losing weight to boot. To find out more about this nutrient dense diet I'm following, read Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, soon you too will be putting butter on your plate.

Creamed Peas

2 cups of frozen peas
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp arrowroot
 1/2 cup heavy cream (raw is best, low pasteurized next best!)
1/4 cup parmesan
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

Steam peas until soft. Remove from pan. Melt butter in pan. Add arrowroot and stir. Add cream and cheese. Boil until the sauce thickens. Season to taste. Add peas back in and stir gently. Enjoy!

ps. This basically tastes like Alfredo sauce on peas. Yeah, it's good.

Braised Pork Loin with Caramelized Onions

 What a beautiful piece of pork! I bought this hunk of meat at Sprouts the other day because I saw a recipe on Food Network that looked so good. Then after getting it home, I promptly could not recall the recipe, the show or really anything about the dish at all. So here I was with a piece of pork (and I don't really love pork roast anyway) and I didn't know what to do with it. But dinner time was looking at me and it was this or peanut butter sandwiches. So I threw it in a pot and crossed my fingers. I ended up with a dish, I plan do make again and again!

Braised Pork Loin with Caramelized Onions

1 Center cut pork loin
2-3 tsp sea salt
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 clove of garlic pasted*
1 onion that has been caramelized
2 tbsp bacon grease (or butter & olive oil)
couple of carrots
1-2 cups chicken stock (You can also add some white wine or water)

Preheat oven to 325. Dry off your pork. Rub it with the salt, pepper, fennel seeds and pasted garlic. Get your stock pot really hot. Add bacon grease. Brown both sides of the pork loin. Start with the top, and then flip it to over. Top it with the caramelized onions. Toss in carrots. Cover and bake for 2 hours or longer. The longer you go the more tender the meat will get. But pull your carrots out after 1.5 hours or they will be mush. Serve with Rosemary Compound Butter** (see below) OR turn the drippings into an awesome gravy.

*Pasted Garlic - Take a clove of garlic and mince it as fine as you can. Add a pinch of salt. With the flat part of the blade of your chef's knife, smash the minced garlic and drag it across your cutting board. Wipe the garlic off carefully and pile it up. Keep smashing it until a paste forms.

Rosemary Garlic Compound Butter: Mince enough fresh rosemary to make 1 tablespoon. It will be raw, so mince it as small as you can so it doesn't get stuck in teeth. Paste one clove of garlic. With a fork, mix it with half a stick of room temperature butter. Roll up in plastic wrap and freeze for 10 minutes. Slice into medallions and serve on warm pork.

 Simmering away.

Braised Pork Loin with caramelized onions and rosemary garlic butter. Served with Creamed Peas (I'll post that recipe later!)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Roast Chicken with Gravy

My roast chicken came out so pretty tonight! The gravy was terrific too. -Amanda

Roast Chicken

1 whole chicken, pastured-hormone free
1/2 stick of butter, room temperature
1 tsp of basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
2 cloves of garlic, smashed into a paste
salt and pepper
2 strips of bacon, cut in half
1 orange

Wash and dry your chicken. Preheat oven to 425. With a fork, smash the herbs,salt, pepper & pasted garlic into the butter, mixing well. Zest the orange into the butter and mix it in too. Using your fingers, rub the entire chicken with butter, on top of and under the skin. Cover the breast meat with the bacon strips. Quarter the orange and stuff it in the cavity. Place the chicken in a baking dish just it's size. (I used the pampered chef stoneware, but don't cover it.) Bake at 425 for 25 minutes. Remove bacon. Continue baking for 35 minutes more or until a thermometer reads 165 in the thigh meat. Remove orange and squeeze orange over chicken. Let chicken rest 10-15 minutes before cutting.


Remove chicken from pan to let rest before carving. Place baking dish on stovetop and bring drippings to a low boil. Add 1/4 cup of flour (I use whole wheat.) Whisk vigorously until all the flour is wet and has a chance to cook. Add 1/2 tsp of sea salt. Add enough water until you get the consistency you want. Let boil for a minute or two before serving. This was insanely good gravy.

The best Mustard Greens I've ever had

Well tonight I made a roast chicken that came out pretty tasty (I'll post it later) but the star of tonight's dinner for me, was the mustard greens. I forgot to take a photo, I ate them too fast! This recipe would be exchangeable for Collard Greens, Spinach and perhaps Kale.

Best Ever Mustard Greens

1 bunch of mustard greens
3 cloves of garlic
2 pieces of bacon
1 tbsp of olive oil
pinch of hot pepper flakes
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp real maple syrup
salt & pepper to taste

Prep mustard greens by either cutting off the stem, or ripping it out from the leafy part. Chop the greens into bit size pieces. In a good cast iron skillet fry up two pieces of bacon that has been cut into small pieces. When bacon is almost cooked, add olive oil, chopped garlic and hot pepper flakes. Stir that around for about half a minute and then add mustard greens. Use tongs to flip the greens over trying to get them all to wilt. When they are mostly wilted (only takes a minute or two) add apple cider vinegar and maple syrup. Season to taste. Let simmer on low for about 10 minutes to continue to cook out the bitterness from the greens. The sweet and salty combo of this side dish is so good you won't think you are eating something healthy!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Carrot Cake

I have a backlog of posts, though I lost some of the photos when my hard drive crashed.  This summer I got married.  My mom wanted to make the cake herself.  Well actually, she wanted us to make it together as a special activity to do together.  She was right, it was special, knowing that together we had made it.   We baked the cakes the week before and froze them, then assembled them the day before the wedding.   The day before we frosted them and stacked them.  We had to measure out wooden dowels to support the weight of the layers so it would not collapse.  My mother is the one who decorated it with flowers and ribbon.  My aesthetic skills are not as finely developed as hers.  Scale is hard to tell below, but there were three tiers which each had two layers of cake.




This recipe is just for one cake, not the three batches we needed for the wedding cake.

Carrot Cake

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla


Preheat oven to 350 F  and prepare two cake pans.  To prepare the cake pans cut out a circle of parchment paper the same size as the bottom of the pan, put it in the bottom of the pan and spray the whole thing with butter or cooking spray.    In a bowl mix thoroughly the sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla.   Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together with a whisk.  Incorporate the wet and dry ingredients and add the carrots, pecans and raisins.    Split the batter and pour half into each cake pan.  cook for 25- 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 


Beat together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla.  Slowly add the powdered sugar until it has all been incorporated.   Frost the cake when it is cool and enjoy. 


Friday, January 7, 2011

Vegetable Cheese Casserole with Chicken (Grain Free)

Is there a good way to photograph a casserole? I meant to take a photo of an individual portion, but it got gobbled up too quickly. This was a hit for the entire family and we didn't miss the pasta or rice that is traditionally in a chicken & cheese type casserole. By the way, I really didn't measure on this recipe so go with your instinct on this. It is pretty forgiving.

Vegetable Cheese Casserole with Chicken

1 head of cauliflower (or one bag frozen)
2-3 carrots, chopped in circles
1 head of broccoli (or one bag of frozen)
1/2 onion
1 tbsp oil/bacon grease
1.5 cups shredded or diced chicken - I used leftover from my homemade stock
cheese- LOTS of cheese About 3 cups of your favorite types
6-8 oz of cream cheese OR strained yogurt to make it thick
1 tbsp grainy mustard
2 tsp of oregano
2 tsp basil
3/4 cup of heavy cream or raw milk
1 heaping tbsp of arrowroot (I prefer not to use cornstarch, since it is highly processed)
salt & pepper to taste

Dice onion and saute it until it is very caramelized in oil or bacon grease. Cut up one head of cauliflower and one head of broccoli, boil both is a pot of water with the chopped carrots. If you are using any frozen vegetables, add them after the fresh ones start. You want all the vegetables to be about the same amount of "fork tender" in the end.

While the vegetables are cooking, start grating your cheese. I always use block cheese, because chemical additives are added to pre-shredded cheese to make it last longer. (One thing I'm learning about labels, is if it is an industry standard it does NOT have to be put on the label!) Plus, I love using Raw Milk Cheddar and Raw Milk Monterary Jack. You can only get cheese that is aged past 60 days raw in America. So you won't find Raw milk mozzarella or any other softer cheeses. At the most you can look for Whole Milk Mozzarella. (Learning how to make it on my own is one of my future projects!) Anyway, for this recipe I used: Cotija, marble jack, Parmesan & cheddar. Then I grated some mozzarella and more Parmesan for the top. All in all I used about 3 cups (including the cream cheese) for the filling with just a bit on top.

In a bowl, mix your cheeses, cream cheese, cooled onion, spices and mustard in a very large bowl. When vegetables are fork tender, drain them very well and return them to the hot pot. Keeping it on the flame, gently stir them a bit to dry them out some more. Add the vegetables to the cheese mixture. Add 1.5-2 cups of shredded or diced chicken and stir some more. Pour into a casserole dish and pack it down. In a small bowl, mix heavy cream and arrowroot. Pour heavy cream over vegetable cheese mixture and encourage it to seep down into the dish. Top with a bit more cheese and bake at 375 for 45-50 minutes.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Asian Bar-B-Q Pork Ribs

I know I'm Texan, but for some reason ribs have always fell in that "scary" category to cook. I don't know why, but I've never made ribs before. Now though, I think they may make into a more frequent rotation. For one thing they are super easy to make and for another they are SO good. Plus it was very adorable to see Izzie chowing down on it. She even asked what it was about two or three times. She does that so she can remember to ask for it again. Even Maddie liked them, but she didn't clean the bone like Izzie did. The coleslaw side I made wasn't as well received, but it wasn't too bad. It had an Asian dressing with oranges and peanuts in it. I'm not posting the recipe to it since it got a thumbs down from the family (and it wasn't my favorite either.)

Asian Bar-B-Q Pork Ribs

I really didn't measure the sauce so here are the approximates:
1/2 cup hoisin sauce (I need to find a homemade version of this, if anyone knows of one please let me know!)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 grated garlic cloves
2 tsp sesame oil
3 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil

Mix all the ingredients together in a small pan and let boil, stirring frequently. Let it reduce by half so it is thick and glossy. Set aside.

Take your rack of ribs and rub with salt, pepper and olive oil. Wrap tightly in foil. Place on a wrack in a roasting pan. I used a stone cookware which I think helped make it nice and juicy. Add about 3/4 cup of water to the bottom of your pan. Seal tightly with foil and bake at 275 for 2 hours.

Remove from pan, place on a cookie sheet and baste with sauce. Broil on High about 3 inches from heat, for 3-6 minutes or until nice and caramelized. Turn over and baste the second side and broil for another 4-6 minutes. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Leftovers become Easy Chili Mac

Today my family is having a pajama day. This means little or no cooking (or much of anything else productive) takes place. It's a wonderful time to have a mini-staycation and just bond with family. The problem is that I don't have much "quick" lunches in my refridgerator (except for all the soup!) but my toddlers will only eat soup occasionally. So digging deep within the fridge, I found some leftover taco meat, some left over buttered noodles and then there is the always handy block of cheddar cheese. I combined these three items in a small oven safe bowl and popped it in my toaster oven for 10 minutes. Easy, tasty and eaten all up! (My husband and I worked on even more of the leftovers!)
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