Thursday, December 25, 2014

Moroccan Pastilla

This recipe reminds me of spanikopita pie, except it's a Moroccan version. The spices and flavors are so beautiful together--cinnamon, ginger, nuts and raisins layered with chicken in a beautiful, creamy sauce--they are uncommon in America yet so perfect together. This is protein-packed (can I hear the men in the house say "Yeah!"), and it is definitely also an action-packed cooking experience. 

Give it a go! 

Also, if you've never worked with phyllo dough before, don't be afraid. It's actually really easy if you just keep it safe from drying. Watch Alton Brown's episode on making baklava to see a true master's explanation. 

2 oz raisins, soaked in water
1 roll of of phyllo dough
1 stick of unsalted butter plus 1/2 cup olive oil1 tbsp. butter

6 chicken drumsticks
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 yellow onions, minced
1 saffron dose
1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and grated finely or finely chopped* 
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp paprika
Dash of nutmeg
4 Tbsp fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 cup water

2 oz blanched almonds

2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 eggs + 1 egg yolk

*Try to find a piece with a soft, thin, light colored skin because it's easier to grate/chop and has a more delicate flavor

1. First, take one roll of your frozen phyllo sheets out of the box and lay it on a plate, still in the wrapper (or else they will dry out). They will need about 1 hour to thaw, in my experience. Or, you can place the plate in the fridge overnight and they will be all thawed out for the next day. 

2. Next, add your raisins to a bowl of hot water and set aside to soak. 

3. Preheat a high-sided pan (one that will fit all of the chicken in one layer) to medium heat. Salt your chicken evenly. Once you wave your hand over the pan and the air is hot, add in 1 tbsp. butter and let it sizzle to coat the pan. Toss in your chicken pieces and brown them on all sides, cooking for about 5 minutes total. Set the meat aside on a plate.

4. Add the 3 tbsp. olive oil to the same pan and cook the onion together with the spices: saffron, fresh ginger, ground ginger, cinnamon, paprika, and nutmeg. Saute until fragrant and the onion softens slightly, a few minutes. Add the chicken back into the pan along with half of the parsley and coriander and 1/3 cup of water. Sprinkle over 1 tsp of salt, and cover and simmer for 30 minutes on low heat. 

5. While the chicken is cooking, get another saute pan going over medium heat. Add in a splash of olive oil and the almonds. Toast them until they become fragrant and warm and then stir in the sugar and cinnamon and remove to a bowl. Strain off the raisins and stir them into this mixture as well.

 6. Once the chicken is fully cooked and a beautiful fragrance is wafting forth from the stove, remove the drumsticks from the pan and chop up all of the chicken very finely. Keep the lid off of the sauce in the pan and let it continue simmering until it reduces by 2/3. 

While you're waiting for the sauce to thicken, get started on the phyllo pastry. 

7. Get out either a 9 inch cake mold with decently high sides (maybe 2.5-3 inches) or an 8x8 square, glass casserole dish. 

8. Place the stick of butter in a bowl and heat in the microwave until melted completely, and then stir in the olive oil. Set a pastry brush in there. 

9. Now, take the package of phyllo dough out of the wrapper and CAREFULLY unroll it onto a flat surface. Cover with a lightly damp kitchen towel. 

10. First, paint the whole inside of your pan with a layer of butter, then take one sheet of phyllo dough and gently rest it in the pan, being sure to let the long edges drape over the sides of the pan. Paint the entire top surface of this sheet--up to the corners--of phyllo with the butter mixture, and then place another layer of phyllo dough over it crosswise (this way you will have edges hanging over all sides of your pan and will cover all the sides of the "pie"). Continue to repeat this process until you have about 8-10 layers of phyllo all layered with butter and smoothed together, with all the edges hanging out of the pan and dripping butter all over your counter (because this inevitably happens). Be sure to rub all of the edges together to make sure they are all buttered, so they don't become crispy and shatter. 

Preheat the oven to 400F.

11. Now, let's turn our attention back to the filling. Beat the eggs up in a bowl with the rest of the coriander and parsley. Pour this mixture into the reduced sauce, and stir over low heat until thickened, being careful not to scramble the eggs! Take off of the heat. 

Okay, we've finally made it to the final stage. 

12. Sprinkle about half of the chicken into your phyllo crust. Sprinkle over about half of the nut and raisin mixture, and ladle over about half of the sauce. Layer this again. To complete the pie, add 4 more layers of phyllo dough, separated by butter again, to the top of the meat, and then fold in all of the overhanging edges into the center.

Cook for about 30 minutes, until golden brown on top. Serve with bright green vegetables or a salad.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Avgolemono Soup (Greek Creamy Lemon Soup)

 If you are looking for a new kind of soup to try, this is the one. It's tangy from the lemon, creamy from the egg, and protein-filled (for the men among us). This is my spin off the of original Greek recipe. See what you think!

The key to this recipe is homemade chicken stock. The flavor will stand out, as there really aren't any other heavy flavors involved. Keep it simple--just cook a whole chicken one night and then add the carcass into a stock pot or crock pot with an onion, some carrots, and some celery. Cover it all with water and simmer it for 8-12 hours. Strain through a fine mesh into a jug or pitcher. Boom, done. After it cools to room temperature, you may want to skim any fat off of the surface, but that's not a big deal.


-1.5 lbs. chicken breasts or thighs (whichever you prefer)
-2 tbsp. butter or olive oil
-1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
-3 large carrots, shredded
-1 tsp. dried oregano
-7 cups of homemade chicken stock
-4 eggs
-1/2 cup lemon juice from good-quality lemons
-1.5 tsp. salt
-2 tbsp. fresh dill

-1/2 cup dry orzo pasta (optional)

Preheat your oven to 375F. Cover a pan with foil and lay out your chicken. Drizzle each piece with olive oil and sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. Rub it all in. When the oven is preheated, slide it on in and let them cook from about 20-30 minutes, until done.

In the meanwhile, chop your onion and shred the carrots. Set a soup pot over medium heat. Once it's hot, add in your butter or olive oil and then the onion and carrot. Let simmer away until it's softened and golden.

Once the chicken is done, set it aside to cool for a moment. Then, shred it up. Pour your chicken stock into the pot and add the oregano. Bring to a simmer. If you are adding the orzo, this is the time to do it, and then cover the pot and continue to simmer for about 8 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk up your eggs with the lemon juice really well, and when the orzo is cooked (if using) whisk the egg mixture into the simmering soup (not boiling!) in a slow stream. Yes, the whisk will probably get a bunch of veg stuck in it, but the world isn't over. The whisk is the best way to ensure that you don't end up with scrambled eggs. Do not bring the soup to a boil after this. Simmer for about 5 minutes, add in the shredded chicken, dill, and add salt and pepper to taste. Taste, and then serve. Make sure you turn the heat down to low so it doesn't curdle while you aren't looking.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding (Family Recipe!)

When we talk about comfort food that reminds you of cozy winter evenings at home with the family, filled with laughter, warmth, and Harry Potter marathons this meal is what comes to my mind. There is nothing more satisfying than a beautiful roast beef with succulent gravy, roast veg, and some crispy and soft Yorkshire Pudding.

Today I am sharing one of my favorite recipes of all time. Gravy is non-negotiable! It must be home made and it must be delicious!

Roast Beef:

-3.5 lb. well-marbled beef roast, preferably on the bone (you can go as cheap or as fancy as you like! We use prime rib at Christmas, but something much cheaper at other times)
-1 bulb of garlic, pulled apart, but not peeled
-2 onions, halved
-2 carrots, peeled and halved
-1 small bundle of herbs such as thyme, rosemary, or sage (or a combination!)
-salt and pepper
-olive oil

Drizzle some olive oil over your roast and rub salt and pepper into it. Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 475F and prep your vegetables. Get out a roasting pan that your roast can have some extra room in. Toss the veg in your roasting pan with some olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Once the oven is preheated and everything is ready, lay your roast over the vegetables (you can also use a rack to raise the roast above the veg) and place in the preheated oven. Turn the heat down to 400F immediately. Roast for about 1 hour for medium.

In the meantime, get cracking on  your Yorkshire and any other vegetables for roasting by taking out a muffin pan and pouring 1 tsp. oil into each cup. Place the pan in the 400F oven with the roast. Also, get another roasting pan and pour about 3 mm of oil into it. Place this in the oven alongside the muffin tin.

Roasted Parsnips/Potatoes/Carrots:

Peel and cut vegetables to a uniform size.

If using potatoes, boil them until fork tender, and strain (before the roast even goes in). Dump them back in the empty, hot pot and shake them around so they get all rough and starchy on the outside (this gives the hot oil something to cling to). These guys can sit around until you are ready to roast.

About 1/2 an hour before the roast comes out, take your preheated roasting pan out of the oven and carefully place in your peeled veg and/or potatoes. turn them all in the oil and sprinkle a bit of salt over them. Set them back in the oven. They should take about 30-40 minutes to become golden brown and crisp. You may turn them over half way through to get both sides.

Yorkshire Pudding:

-7/8 cup of flour (just estimate this as close as you can by using 3 1/4 cups and then a half-full 1/4 cup)
-1 tsp. salt
-2 eggs
-1/2 cup cold milk
-1/2 cup ice water

While your roast is cooking away, get this mix done. It can sit out for a half hour or so.

Dump your flour and salt into a bowl. Create a "well" in the center of the flour and add in your two eggs and liquids. Use a fork to whisk it all up until the egg is completely blended. There should be lumps of flour--it essentially looks like pancake mix.

Set aside until the roast comes out of the oven. Then, quickly pull out the muffin pan with the preheated oil and pour your Yorkshire batter into each pan--filling each one about half way. This usually makes about 10. Put it back in the oven immediately. Bake for 25-30 minutes until deep golden brown and super puffy.

Finishing up the Roast:

Take the roast out of the oven after about 1 hour. Check the internal cooking temperature by sticking a meat thermometer into the center. It should be at about 160F for medium, or 145F for medium-rare. If you don't have a thermometer, you can do it the old fashioned way and cut into the center to see if it's done to your liking.

Pick up the roast and let it rest on a board or large plate and cover it with foil to keep it warm. 


-1 heaped tablespoon flour
-1 glass of red or white wine
-4 cups of beef stock

To create your gravy, hold your pan and tilt it on an angle. Scoop out as much of the fat off of the surface of the pan juices that you can. Then, take a potato masher and mash up all of the vegetables like crazy. Sprinkle over your flour and keep mashing it all up until you've got a pulpy-consistency. 

Now, turn one of the stove burners to medium-high heat and set your pan over it. Use a whisk to start scraping up the brown bits from the pan and get this mixture really hot. Pour in your stock and continue whisking until it comes to a simmer. Keep going until the gravy reaches a consistency that you like--about 10 minutes. 

Once it's ready, use a fine-mesh sieve to strain the gravy into a gravy boat. Use a ladle to push all of the vegetabley-goodness through. 

So....I know this sounds like a lot. So, lets break this down into parts:

(If making potatoes, boil those first) Then...

1. Get the roast in the oven.

2. While the roast is cooking, prep your vegetables.

3. When the roast has a half hour to spare, Place your roasting veg in the oven. 

4. Prep your Yorkshire batter. 

5. When the roast comes out of the oven and is resting, pour your Yorkshire batter and get that in the oven. 

6. While the veg are roasting and the Yorkshires are baking, work on your gravy. 

7. Serve everything together. 

See, it's really not that bad... And you end up with a fantastic meal!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Low Carb Asian Style Meatloaf

So, this low carb diet is going surprisingly well. I believe I have come to a place where I have really changed my eating habits for good. Who knows how long I will keep losing weight. It's still coming off at an even pace and I am at 24 pounds today! 

In celebration this this milestone, I thought I would share my dinner with you...

I've never been a fan of the idea of a "meat loaf." The whole thing sounds rather unappetizing--in the same way as boxed "mashed potatoes" or canned "green beans." Well, for some odd reason I found myself standing in the meat section of the grocery store actually wanting to try out a meatloaf. How odd. Now, I obviously omitted the gross parts of a normal meatloaf: ketchup and breadcrumbs. Check out what I came up with instead!


-2 lbs. ground chuck (stick with 80-90% for moisture)
-2 rashers of bacon, finely diced
-1 tbsp. onion powder
-1 tsp. parsley flakes
-1 tsp. dried chives
-1/2 tsp. ginger
-2 shallots, finely chopped
-2 eggs
-3 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
-3 tbsp. tomato paste
-2 tbsp (or more) Asian sriracha sauce
-1 tsp. sea salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Spread mixture into a pie plate or casserole dish. Bake for approximately 1 hour, until done in the center. Remove and cool for about 5 minutes. Serve with your favorite vegetable side (ours is broccoli today).

*Now, at this point you may notice there is a lot of juice and fat immersing the loaf. Yes, please cut it in pieces and lay the pieces on a serving plate or something--and dump out that liquid ASAP like it never happened.  Of course, it's necessary for cooking and we love our moist and tender meat, but don't subject your family to the horrors of over-zealous meat juice.*

Monday, October 6, 2014

Jamie's Empire Roast Chicken

Last week I was looking for an interesting roast chicken recipe. Normally I do an herb and garlic roast, and occasionally I add in some lemon. Then, I found this amazing curried roast chicken from Jamie Oliver. Here is what he says about it:

"Ask any British person what their two favourite meals are and I reckon most people would say their mum's roast chicken, and a curry. Well, welcome to Empire roast chicken, a combination of both of those things. Your friends and family are going to love it. I love it. You will love it."

Doesn't that sound beautiful? Of course I couldn't resist. The chicken was, of course like all of Jamie's recipes, fantastically flavorful. I documented the process in my pictures below. 

One thing: I would definitely be sure to use a smaller roasting pan than mine. I had an issue with some burned veg in the bottom of the pan :( The oven is suposed to be at 400F for this, which is very hot. I guess you could just check on it every once in a while and add in a little more stock when necessary...

Here is the recipe.

Check out that gorgeous pile of spices...I have lots of fresh Indian spices and made my own garam masala. We love Indian food.

 Look at that chicken! Be sure to rub the spices all over-inside and outside.

Whisking the flour into the Worcestershire and vinegar.  The beginnings of a great gravy.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Chocolate Banana "Ice Cream"

This stuff is really good. It's got about 20g carbs because of the banana, but it's much more worth the carbs than regular 'ole splenda-infused ice cream. It's got a lot more nutrients than any other dessert you could think of.


-1 frozen banana, chopped into chunks
-1 heaping teaspoon cocoa powder
-1 heaping teaspoon peanut butter
-1 packet stevia
-a sprinkle of toppings

Combine all ingredients (except toppings) in a food processor. Blend until smooth--add a drop of milk or water if it gets too clumpy. Sprinkle with toppings, and serve!

I always keep some chopped bananas in the freezer just for this occasion. It's really quick, and it's delicious!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Chicken Pot Pie Soup (Low Carb)

Fall is a dangerous time for dieters....Along with cuddly blankets and fireside chats, everyone wants a steaming, chicken pot pie! This soup tastes just like the pie. I didn't miss the original at all (just don't confront me with the pastry!). This is the perfect soup to make in a big batch and eat for the whole week.


-2 tbsp. butter
-1 cup finely chopped celery
-1 cup finely chopped onion
-1 cup finely chopped carrot
-1 tsp. rosemary
-1/2 tsp. thyme
-1 tsp. parsley
-5-6 cups chicken stock
-1 cup finely chopped potato (you can omit these, or replace with leeks or parsnips if you don't want the starch)

-1/3 cup flour
-1/3 cup butter
-2 cups half and half
-2 cups cream
-2 cups chicken breasts, cubed
-1/2 cup peas
-1/2 cup corn
-salt and pepper to taste
-sharp white cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat a large soup pot over medium. Melt the butter, and once it is brown and bubbling, add in your celery, onion, and carrots. Cook for about 5-8 minutes, until soft and fragrant.

Add in the herbs, potatoes, and chicken stock to cover all of the veg. Stir. Bring to a boil and cover. Turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 15-25 minutes, until the potatoes and carrots are softened.

Set a separate pot to medium heat. Combine the butter and flour and whisk until smooth. Cook until bubbling and golden. Pour in cream and continue whisking. Once this mixture begins to thicken, add in the half and half. Continue to cook until thick and creamy. Pour this mixture into the soup.

Add the chicken, corn, and peas into the soup. Stir well, and taste the sauce. Add salt to taste (I added about 1 tbsp.). Add about 1 tsp. pepper.

Simmer the soup for about 10 minutes to combine all of the flavors. Serve with shredded cheese!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Low Carb Fried Mozzarella Sticks

I apologize for my long absence. Starting a new school year can be overwhelming! I've still been experimenting away, and I have plenty of recipes to add :)

First, I've got this lovely thing. For those of you why are low-carbers, you already know that it's possible to indulge in ways that people on other diets cannot! Yes, you can still have fried food. Of course, it's not an everyday thing, but these sure are delicious.

Ingredients for sticks:

-1 package mozzarella string cheese (shoot for higher fat content)
-2 cups Kraft "Parmesan" cheese (yes, this is the dried, powdered, Parmesan on the shelf)
-1 tsp. paprika
-1 tsp. basil
-2 eggs, whisked with 1/4 cup water
-canola oil for frying

Take as many string cheeses out of their packages as you desire to eat. Cut them all in half.

Mix together your cheese, paprika, and basil in a bowl. Prepare a work space with a plate for the finished sticks, the egg mixture, and the cheese mixture. Try to use one hand for wet and one hand for dry, to prevent having to wash your hands a million times.

Dip a cheese stick in the egg mixture, then into the cheese, and pack on the mixture. Dip in the egg and in the cheese again, double-coating the stick and being sure that every edge is covered. Set onto plate. Repeat with all cheese sticks.

 Once all are coated, wash your hands and then take each cheese stick and roll it along a cutting board or your counter, to make smooth sides, then place the plate of sticks in the freezer for about 30 minutes to an hour. Prepare your oil for frying. Pour about 2 inches of oil into a pan, and set over medium-high heat. To test, place a scrap of vegetable or cracker in the oil. If it starts to sizzle and bubble immediately (without splattering you), the oil is hot enough. If it splatters or smokes, it is too hot so take it off of the heat and wait a few minutes.

Fry the sticks a few at a time until golden. Strain on paper towels and serve with marinara sauce. Make sure you serve them while they are still hot, or the cheese will no longer be gooey.

You can store extras in the freezer.

Here's my quick sauce recipe:

-1 can of tomato paste or sauce
-1 clove of garlic
-2 tbsp. olive oil
-1 tsp. basil
-1/4 tsp. thyme
-1/4 tsp. salt
-water (if using paste)

Mix all ingredients, and if using tomato paste, add about a tablespoon of water at a time until it's the consistency you like for dipping. For sauce, you don't need to add water :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Chicken Tarragon with Lemon Kale, Roasted Parsnips, and Rice

 Chicken Tarragon is a classic. The first time I made it was in my parents' kitchen around age 16. I used the recipe in Delia Smith's cookbook, and it came out amazingly! Today, I came up with my own version, and I think it was up to snuff. I didn't incorporate a few things  from the original recipe, in keeping with my low carb diet, but I made rice (and ate a little bit) because you've got to have something with which to mop up that dazzling sauce.

Ingredients for parsnips:

-4 medium-sized parsnips
-olive oil

Preheat oven to 400F.
Peel your parsnips like you would carrots. Then, slice them in half longways and lay them on a pan covered with tin foil. Drizzle olive oil over them, and rub it all over. Sprinkle them with salt, and rub again, until evenly covered. Place in oven for 20-30 minutes, until deep golden brown. Turn halfway through the cooking time.

Ingredients for kale:

-2 bunches of kale
-1 lemon
-olive oil

Pull the kale leaves off of the thick stalk, Throw those stalks away! Next, chop up the kale in small pieces. This will improve the texture and make it entirely un-slimy. Add the kale to a salad spinner and wash it well. Next, toss it in a bowl with juice from the lemon, 2 tbsp. olive oil, and 1 tsp. salt. Put the kale in a pot and set aside.

Ingredients for chicken:

-2 chicken breasts
-2-3 tsp. dried tarragon (or 1 bunch fresh, leaves picked and chopped)
-2 large garlic cloves
-2 tbsp. butter
-2 tbsp. olive oil
-1/2 cup white wine (something not too sweet, like a Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio)
-1/3 cup heavy cream
-1/4 cup chicken stock

Preheat a pan to medium heat. Sprinkle salt over the top and bottom of each chicken breast. Be sure there is an even dusting--SALT IS FLAVOR!!! Next, add over a sprinkling of tarragon and of pepper on both sides. Peel your garlic cloves.

Add the butter and olive oil to the pan, once bubbling, place in the chicken and garlic. (If you are making rice, now is the time to turn it on).

Flip after about 5-7 minutes, once "half done," and you see white creeping up the sides of the chicken.

On the second side, let the chicken cook for about 4 minutes, then pour in the wine, put a lid on the pan, an turn the heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes.

After the 10 minutes are up, test the chicken for doneness (prick and if the juices run clear, it's done. You can also use a cooking thermometer to check the temperature has reached 165F). Turn your kale's heat on to medium, and put the lid on.

Remove the chicken breasts from the pan and set aside. Next, mash up the garlic in the pan. It should be buttery and soft. Add in the cream, the rest of the tarragon, and chicken stock. Turn up the heat to a simmer. Taste. Add salt as needed. Simmer until thickened.

Your sauce should be a nice golden color.

Toss the kale after 3 minutes, and continue steaming until softened to your liking.

To plate (the way I did it in this photo), pour a spoon of sauce into the center of a plate. Make a little "nest" shape in the center of a plate out of the kale. Pour in a scoop of rice. lay over some parsnips length- and crosswise. Rest the chicken breast on top. Drizzle sauce over the meat.

To plate the second way, just put the parsnips on top of the chicken instead of under it, and drizzle the sauce around the plate instead of making a pool--I liked the pool better, though. I'm never a sissy with my sauce! Load it up babe!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Chicken, Bacon, Broccoli Alfredo w/ Zucchini Pasta (low carb, gluten free)

So I must be getting super experimental this week. I wasn't kidding when I told you about rethinking my food worldview (here). I wanted something creamy and rich, and I still was able to create something creamy and rich--without pasta!!

Check it out.

This was my first time making zucchini pasta. I was super skeptical about it, but I went ahead and tried it, as I had 2 zucchinis I needed to use up. It's a little different than pasta because it definitely has more of a fibrous "bite" to it, but the texture and flavor work out really well. Zucchini is amazing at absorbing flavor of surrounding sauces, and it's also soft yet firm, like good al dente pasta must be. I encourage you to give it a go!

This is the best recipe I've seen for zucchini pasta, so I will send you off to "He Speaks in Silence" where you must find the zucchini noodles recipe.

Once your noodles are ready, follow my recipe below:


-zucchini noodles made from 6-8 zucchini
-2 chicken breasts
-12 rashers bacon, cooked until crispy and crumbled
-1 crown of broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces
-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
-4 oz.(half a packet) cream cheese
-2 oz. (half a stick) butter
-1/2 cup milk
-1/2 cup chicken stock
-1/2 tsp. thyme
-1/3 cup fresh shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat your pan to medium heat. Salt the chicken breasts, and once the pan is hot, add in a bit of olive oil and lay in the chicken. Cook for about 6-8 minutes per side (with thick chicken breasts). You can slice them in half longways or attack them with a hammer (aka meat tenderizer) if you want to speed up that cooking time. Remove them from the pan when finished.

Precook the broccoli by placing it in a pot and covering it with water. Bring to a boil, and simmer until tender. Strain and set aside.

Add the cream cheese and butter to the pan in which you cooked the chicken. Stir over medium heat. Add in the garlic and milk. Whisk until smooth. Pour in stock and thyme, then bring up to a simmer. Cook until the sauce begins to thicken, then add the cheese. Taste, and add salt as needed.

Add in your zucchini pasta, bacon, chicken (sliced), and broccoli. Bring heat down to low, and toss to combine. Put the lid on and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes, so all of the flavors can combine.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mexican Chocolate Pudding (Sugar-free, Lactose-free)

I've been on the hunt for desserts lately. I'm going on 2 full months of this low glycemic thing and it's time for some sweets. I came across a "paleo" recipe for pudding. But pudding is not interesting enough. As I was experimenting with a recipe, I thought I would add a little flair--I've had Mexican hot chocolate before, which was delicious, so I channeled that into the recipe below.


2 cups almond milk or coconut milk
1/4 cup packed cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
1/3 cup plus 3 tbs. Splenda or other sugar substitute
a pinch of salt
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp. corn starch (or arrow root powder) mixed with 2 tbsp. water
2 tbsp. sugar-free chocolate or unsweetened baking chocolate

Combine milk, cocoa, Splenda, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium high heat. Stir continually, until steaming (not bubbling). Whisk in 1 egg yolk at a time, then pour in corn starch mixture and continue whisking until mixture begins to thicken.

Take off heat. Sprinkle in the chocolate and whisk until all melted. Pour into 4 serving bowls, cover with plastic wrap (be sure to press the wrap down into the bowl so it is sticking to the top of the pudding, then a skin won't form). Or--you can eat it warm, too!

Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top, or some whipped coconut cream.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Properly Grilled Brats with Sauteed Green Beans

This is a great summer recipe that's also low carb/low glycemic friendly. You may think that it doesn't sound very special or interesting, but I suppose the main reason I am posting this is the special method of cooking the sausages. I just learned today that I've been grilling them the wrong way!

Also, I thought I would share the green bean recipe, as I have been cooking them this way for years. It's hard to think of anything that will go well with sausages other than some form of potatoes or salad. I know so many people who eat mushy green beans from a can. These are really flavorful, with bite and personality. They also complement the beerish flavor of the sausage.

You will see in the pictures I also grilled corn (not very sausage-y). I buttered, salted, and peppered it and wrapped it in foil before putting it on the top rack of the grill for about 20 minutes, turning regularly. Simple.

Ingredients for brats:

-1 package bratwursts
-1 bottle beer

Preheat grill to medium-high heat for about 10 minutes.

Pierce each sausage with a fork.

First, we have to par-boil the sausages. This way they will cook evenly and have a firm, juicy texture. If you just toss sausages on a hot grill you run the risk of either burning them on the outside and making them under-done on the inside or making them all dried out and wrinkly. Neither of these make for a good meal. This technique is genius and (as you see in the photo below) results in a smooth inner texture that is not greasy or chunky, and a crisp outer skin.

Place the sausages in a pan and pour in the bottle of beer. Fill up with water until completely covered. Turn the heat to medium high and let simmer for about 6-8 minutes, until a thermometer inserted into a sausage reads 150F. Place sausages on a plate.

(Start the corn about 15 minutes before you put on the sausages). Turn the grill heat to high, and place the sausages on it. Let them cook about 2-3 minutes per side, enough to get some grill marks and crisp up the skin.


Ingredients for green beans:

-6 oz. fresh green beans
-1 clove garlic, chopped
-2 tbsp. butter
-1/4 tsp. dried thyme
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1/2 cup chicken stock

Top and tail the beans.

Preheat a pan to medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add the butter, garlic, and thyme. Saute until golden, then add in the beans and salt. Toss to combine. Pour in the stock and simmer until fully evaporated, 10-15 minutes.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Reconstructing My Food-Worldview

It's amazing how easy it is to gain weight. Many of you would know more about the struggle than I. I have not yet had children, I have not encountered any health problems, and I have not even hit age 22! However, hopefully you will find this advice helpful.

We all know that it's so easy to have dessert when we feel like it. It's pleasurable to fill ourselves with yummy bread, sweets, cakes, french fries, pasta, and all sorts of delicacies. I know that more than most, as I spend most of my life in the kitchen. I swore to myself, the day I learned to cook, that I would NEVER settle for boring food again. I still don't. But there is a reason I went from 135 to 173 pounds since I quit ballet, and along with that, lost all desire to be a careful eater.

I would to sit down to my computer, pull up Pinterest or a cooking show I missed, and say to myself, "And now....what enrapturing dishes shall I cook up this week? Why not start with some Moroccan recipes!" Every week my ritual gave me such release and such peace--like going into your quiet place to paint, to read, or to write. And I had so many different ideas that it took me hours and hours to schedule and plan the meals I would create. I drifted through the grocery store just eating everything with my eyes; I spent hours in Asian and Indian markets when I got the chance, just to stir the trade winds of my imagination. My parents thought it was so odd that I enjoyed going to the grocery store as much as some people enjoy going fishing or shopping or to a movie. I didn't care about calories or carbs at that point. I just wanted to be inspired and to create something new. 

Now I've changed. I can still be creative in my cooking, but I have rules to follow to guide me down the road. I can't eat lots of carbs and stay thin. This is something with which I must finally come to terms. So, instead of viewing my diet as shackles destroying my freedom to be creative, I view it as a guide rail for my passion for food. These guide rails will help me lead myself into the center of creative thinking about good food. Whereas before I stumbled all over the place and wanted to learn everything about making every single food (which I could never do in a lifetime), I now have a "map" to follow. In the grocery store I no longer wander to the dessert counter to gaze longingly at the chocolate cake I cannot eat. I follow the guard rails to what is healthy, and I create tasty food out of those options alone. I avert my eyes from what I know is bad for my body. It's actually more of an exciting challenge this way. Anyone can bake blueberry muffins...but not just anyone can make GOOD blueberry muffins without regular flour.

I can easily relate this to my faith in Christ. Yes, God gives us commands to follow, and some may see that as stifling, but it is really freeing! The Holy Spirit is our "guard rail" who guides us through the chaos and whispers to us to turn our head when we look towards the temptations. We keep our eyes on the goal. At the end of the trials of life, we will reap a great reward for our faith and our trust.

Now I recognize my responsibility to follow the straight and narrow path in all areas of my life, especially in nourishing my family. I won't lead myself and my family into obesity (or even pleasantly-plumphood), but will strive to make us healthy, happy, and full of energy--without the suffering I experienced as a struggling, dieting ballet dancer.

I still need to keep my promise that I will never cook boring, yucky food. I will never serve un-flavorful, mushy vegetables with plain 'ole chicken and call it a meal. I want my family to feel special, to eat like kings so they can share with me my joy of cooking. And I will do my best to strive toward that goal. Yes, some days there will still be rice. I may cook a cake for special occasions. But I will never again live like my body can take whatever I "feel like" giving it. That is not honoring my family, it's not honoring God's creation, and it's not honoring the transforming work of Christ in me.


8 Pounds Lost, and Counting

**Update 2/13/15: 29 pounds lost and counting!! 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Coconut Cream Chocolate Mousse (Low Carb; Vegan)

I recently started a low carb diet, so I am always looking for ways I can cheat!! This mousse tastes just as light and fluffy and chocolatey as the normal stuff-it's just got a hint of coconut flavor. You'll enjoy it, to be sure.


-1 can unsweetened, full fat coconut milk (the brand below or Thai Kitchen are good)
-1 Tbsp. cocoa powder or ground cacao nibs
-1/2 tsp. vanilla
-3/4 tsp. stevia or other sweetener
-fresh berries (optional)

First, make sure you place that can of coconut milk in the fridge for at least 8 hours. The cream sits on top of the coconut water, so the longer it refrigerates, the easier it will be to scoop away the cream. Also, if you don't refrigerate it before you add in your cocoa and such, it will get all grainy when it solidifies in the fridge. Just trust me-spend the extra time to let it harden.

Once fully refrigerated, open your can and scoop the cream into a bowl. Be sure you don't get any of the water in there! You can save that for later and add it to another recipe, or just toss it.

Next, whip your cream with a whisk to make it fluffy.

Stir in your cocoa, vanilla, and stevia.

Put it back in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

You can pipe it into a serving dish like this to make it fancy....

Or, you can serve it in a martini glass, like me!