Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Chipotle Orange Pork Chops with an Apple Raisin Chutney

Today was a perfect summer day.  It was the stuff that dreams are made of.  My Sweet P went to school this morning and gave me a big hug "bye" before heading off to play.  I spent the morning with my husband.  Sweet P actually took a nap in her big girl bed, which is HUGE for her.  She's never been a napper.  Granted, my husband took a nap with her, but it's a step in the right direction.  At least she slept this time.  And, boy, did she sleep!

I went outside and laid in the sun in her little pool, just the right size to keep me cool.  I read a book. I finished my book. I went to the library and got a library card! I checked out more books.  All the while, my family was napping, and I got some "me time." It was much needed, and I enjoyed every second.

I enjoyed some "me time" last week with a friend. We went to Whole Foods and Sprouts and At Home... I enjoyed adult conversation and grocery shopping without having to rush.  At Whole Foods, I picked up a new seasoning to try: Chipotle Orange salt.  It has a strong chipotle flavor with just a touch of orange.  The chipotle has a good bit of heat, so be mindful of that when you use it.  A little goes a long way.

I knew it would go well on pork chops, so I simply seasoned both sides of the chop and seared them on my grill pan to give them those pretty lines.  I finished them off in the oven for 20 minutes at 375.  

The zucchini I also did on the grill pan.  I used a touch of the chipotle orange salt, some black pepper, and olive oil. The zucchini cooked quickly and turned out beautiful.

Keeping with my fruit theme, I decided to go with an apple chutney.  Typically, apple chutney calls for green apples, but since I knew I was going to use the chipotle orange seasoning, I decided to go with red apples so their natural sweetness would combat some of that heat.  I cubed the apples and combined the apple pieces with some olive oil, a tbs of apple cider vinegar, some of the chipotle orange salt, a tbs (ish) of honey, and just a splash of orange juice to bring out the citrus in the salt.  I also added in some raisins.  I cooked the apples over medium high heat until the liquid was gone and used them to top the pork chops.  The sweet apples, spicy seasoning, and savory pork chops combined perfectly!

This just looks like summer to me.  So many colors and fruits and veggies; the grill marks... all signs of summer in my book.

Of course, my Sweet P was closely monitoring my work... Silly, sweet girl. 

Do you have a favorite summer recipe! Let me know in the comments!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Cheesy Cauliflower "Grits"

I have come to love cauliflower. 

There, I said it. 

I. Love. Cauliflower. 

But... I don't love it as cauliflower. I love it because it can be disguised as nearly anything else. Like grits :)

Start by "ricing" a head of cauliflower. I use a cheese grater to do this, but you could also use a food processor or cut it fine with a butcher knife. 

Next, you'll combine the cauliflower with a little milk in a pan to heat it through and make it soft. Just check it periodically until it reaches a texture you like. I like it to have a little bit more crunch to it. 

Once the cauliflower is cooked, add whatever cheese you like. I added Parmesan and a bit of Colby Jack. I also added salt and pepper and a touch of garlic powder. 

These are great as a side dish for breakfast. I used to not like grits. I know, what southern girl doesn't like grits?? But then I realized the error of my ways. And now in a low carb lifestyle, I can't have them. Since I made these, I actually like them more. Knowing that I'm getting a full serving of veggies makes it even better! 

I made these again using frozen cauliflower. 

Can't even tell!!  I put a serving of the frozen cauliflower in a microwave-safe bowl with two tablespoons of water. Microwave for three minutes, drain the water, and they are ready to be used just like the fresh cauliflower. Either put them in a food processor or chop them with a butcher knife. Easy as pie... Low carb pie, of course!

Hope you enjoy!

Low Carb Fried Pickles

Low carb. Fried. Pickles. 

These bad boys barely even need an introduction. The inspiration for this recipe came from a pic I saw in Instagram. 

Fried pickles have always been one of my favorite snacks. I've made fried zucchini slices using coconut flower as the breading, but I wanted something with more crunch for these. Pork rinds to he rescue. 

I used my food processor to make the pork rind crumbs this time rather than crushing them by hand. They need to be very finely ground. Otherwise, the breading will be too much and you'll lose the pickle. Trust me. 

Coat the pickle slices in an egg wash and then coat them in the pork rind crumbs. Fry them over medium-high heat in hot oil. I used canola. 

I made my dill sauce to dip them in, but this time I added pickle juice rather than lemon juice to give them an extra kick of pickle flavor. It was a good call. 

These were absolutely amazing. I am so excited to have a low carb version of one of my all time favorite guilty pleasures. What's one of your favorite snacks? Let me know in the comments, and who knows? You may see a low carb version pop up on here one day!

Mexican Marinated Chicken with Avocado Dressing

Summer time is in full swing here in Alabama, and technically, it won't be summer for a few more days!! It is so hot!

Luckily, summer means lots of cool summer produce. Avocados, tomatoes, cucumbers... I love them all. And there's nothing like using them in a salad to combat the heat!

But as much as I try, I can't just eat salad. I need something more filling. I need protein. This chicken did just the trick! I marinated chicken breasts in olive oil, lime juice, salt, pepper, onion powder, red pepper, and cumin. I browned it on the stove and finished it off in the oven (375 for 25 minutes). At the end, I topped it with a thin slice of Colby Jack cheese and broiled it until the cheese had melted. 

For the dressing, I mashed an avocado and mixed it with some cilantro, sour cream, onion powder, salt, pepper, and lime juice- almost like a thin guacamole. It was so good; I had to stop myself from just eating it with a spoon! I sliced some tomatoes to add to the salad and garnished it with a lime wedge. 

As you can see, somebody else thought it looked good, too. 

What is your favorite summer dish? Let me know in the comments!

Cheeseburger Stuffed Mushrooms

I have to admit, I am beside myself. It's the women's World Cup in soccer, the NBA finals, AND the Stanley Cup finals. What to watch? Who to cheer for? I don't know if I can handle all the competition!!

Fortunately, I get an excuse to make game day food. On any given day, it's game day. And what's more fun than game day snacks!? 

Take these adorable cheeseburger-stuffed mushrooms, for example. 

These were very easy to make and so much fun to eat!

1 lb ground beef or turkey
8 oz cream cheese
1-2 packages fresh mushrooms (depending on size)
Salt, pepper, onion powder (to taste)
Sliced Colby Jack or cheddar cheese
Cherry tomato halves
Ketchup and mustard for dipping

Preheat oven to 375. 
Combine meat, cream cheese, and seasonings. Mix well.   
Remove the stems from the mushrooms. Fill each mushroom cap slightly overflowing the top. 
Bake for 20 minutes. Top with sliced cheese and broil until cheese melts, completely covering the mushroom in cheesy goodness. 
Garnish with a small piece of lettuce and a tomato half, securing everything with a toothpick. Serve with ketchup and mustard for dipping. 

Even the tiniest sports fans will love these!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Mexican-style Zucchini and Turkey Meatballs with Cilantro Lime Aioli

This recipe is inspired by one I found on Pinterest. It's low carb and paleo, so I feel really healthy while I'm eating it ;) 

1 lb ground turkey (or chicken)
1 medium zucchini
Juice of one lime
1 tbsp cilantro
Salt, pepper, onion powder, and cumin to taste

Use a cheese grater to shred the zucchini. Salt the shreds really well and let it sit for about 30 minutes to draw out the water. Squeeze in a dish towel to drain. 

Preheat oven to 350

Combine all ingredients and mix well by hand. Form the mixture into meatballs and place on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. 

Bake for 20 minutes. 

I served these with a super simple cilantro and lime aioli. 

Lime juice
Onion powder

Mix everything together, adding more to taste. I like a lot of cilantro!!

Apparently, so does my toddler :) These are some of the outtakes from trying to shoot this dish. Her little hand was pretty fast! She loved them being on toothpicks. They were too tempting; she had to pick one up for herself!

These are a great appetizer, snack, or main dish. Hope you enjoy!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Low Carb Jalapeno Popper Bombs

One of my very favorite snack foods is jalapeno poppers.  Before I went low carb, there was a certain brand of popper at Walmart that I'd buy all the time.  They were made with cream cheese and diced jalapenos in a crunchy breading. I called them "bombs" since they were more like a bite than an actual popper.  Oh, they were delicious.  But with my new eating habits, I try not to eat things like that anymore.  But that doesn't mean I can't make my own!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I spent all day today working on that English project.  It was certainly a doozy.  I started around 8:30 this morning, blinked, and suddenly four hours had gone by! No wonder I was hungry!

I needed a good break.  I needed a good LUNCH.  Luckily, I had just the ingredients I needed to try my own jalapeno popper "bombs."

I sliced and removed the seeds from three decently sized jalapenos.  I think I may add a fourth one next time; I like it hot! I diced them into small pieces and poured them in a large bowl.  I added around 6 oz of cream cheese and stirred it all together.  Then I added a sprinkling of shredded parmesan to help the mixture take on a thicker texture.

I scooped out a small amount of the mixture and rolled it into a ball.  I was able to make 10 out of my ingredients. I placed the balls onto a baking sheet and put the whole thing in the fridge to really set.  Cold foods fry better, in my opinion.

Once the balls were set, I heated my oil over medium-high heat.  I prepared the ingredients for my "breading." In one bowl, I cracked and scrambled an egg.  In a second bowl, I poured crushed pork rinds: my go-to ingredient for when I want a really crispy coating. I coated each ball in the pork rinds, then rolled them in the egg, and then added a second coat of pork rinds, making sure that not one area of the cream cheese was left exposed.  When I began to fry to balls, I was really glad that they stayed together.  I had envisioned globs of cream cheese oozing out of all sides, melting into a giant mess.  They took only about a minute to cook, getting nice and golden brown on all sides.  I drained the excess oil on a paper towel and let them cool for a minute.

Let me tell you, for as much as I loved my old favorites, there's a new favorite in town!

The outside was so crunchy, and the inside was creamy perfection. 

What is a snack food you can't live without? Share in the comments!