Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Creamy Low Carb Spinach and Mushroom "Alfredo" Sauce

The best part about doing low carb is that most sauces are already low carb. Unfortunately, low carb doesn't necessarily mean healthy. My favorite, Alfredo, is still really bad for you. Heavy cream, tons of butter... Not so good. And while it's relatively low in carbs, I knew I could make it better. 

I wanted to make a sauce that had some nutrition with it, too. Spinach is so good for you. And I love the flavor. I sautéed 4 cups of spinach and a half a can of mushrooms in a drizzle of olive oil with garlic powder and some bacon bits for a smoky flavor. 

Once the spinach had wilted, I reduced the heat to medium low. I added 1/4 c light mayo, 1/2 c reduced fat mozzarella, and 1/2 c unsweetened almond milk. If it's too thick, add another splash of almond milk. I added salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. I also added a dash of nutmeg. The nutty flavor pairs perfectly with the cheese. You really can't taste a lot of nutmeg. It just enhances the flavor. 

Now, if I had put this over noodles, it would have defeated the purpose of making it. Instead, I put it over cauliflower. That's really become my go-to carb replacement. It's so versatile! 

I took this to work today for lunch with meatballs. Here's the carb breakdown. 

The sauce made enough for 4 servings bringing it's carb total to less than 2 carbs per serving! Add that to the cauliflower and meatballs, and you're still at Jjst under 11 carbs for a full serving! I'll take that! And most of the carbs came from the veggies, and like my college roommate says, "Jesus made those carbs, so they don't count!"

For dinner last night, I served it with pork chops. All I did to make the chops was brown them on the stove with salt and pepper and finish them off in the oven (350 for 20 min). 

I like this sauce better than anything that comes in a jar! It's so easy and delicious; I'll definitely be making this again!

If I can keep it away from a certain someone, that is!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Mashed Cauliflower with Cheddar Cheese

I am such a potato lover! That's been another tough part about doing a low carb diet. I have a hard time coming up with side dishes that aren't noodles or potatoes. I've seen several recipes for mashed cauliflower, and I've even eaten it before, but I had never made it myself. 

First, I removed all the leaves and as many stems as I could from the cauliflower. I cooked it in 4 cups of water with 4 chicken bullion cubes. 

Bring to a boil, and cook for 8 minutes or until tender. Drain. At this point, I transferred the cauliflower to another bowl to blend it, because I used my immersion blender (my very favorite kitchen tool), and I didn't want to scratch my nonstick pot. You could also use a blender or a food processor. Blend the cauliflower into a silky smooth purée. 

I returned it to the pot and added some milk, butter, seasonings to taste (I used garlic powder, salt, and pepper), and a handful of shredded cheese. Combine until the cheese and butter have melted. 

Technically, you could be done at this point... Or you could add bacon bits and sour cream, put it in a casserole dish, top it with cheese, and broil it until the cheese makes a nice golden top :) 

My husband didn't really care for the dish, but my brother, my sweet P, and I all loved it, each of us having seconds. I was thrilled that P loved it. It's such a healthy dish, and she doesn't like many vegetables. It looks like I'll be making this often in the future!

I have an idea in mind for the leftovers, so keep an eye out for that!


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Baked Cheese with Sour cream and onion dip

So one of my students had a birthday today. We made brownies and served chips and dip. The brownies weren't such a temptation- they contained nuts, which I hate. However, having to pour out potato chips and dollop chip dip onto plates nearly killed me. Salty snacks are my biggest weakness. 

That's why when I came home, I had some of my own- a low carb version, that is. 

All I did was cut three slices of Colby jack cheese made with 2% in half and placed them spread apart on parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 (longer bake = crispier chip). 

Allow to cool on the pan, then transfer to a paper towel to blot the oil. 

For the dip, I mixed a tablespoon of mayo with a tablespoon of sour cream. Add onion powder and salt to taste. 

Remember- each "chip" is really a slice of cheese, so you don't want to eat a whole bunch of them. Luckily, they are pretty rich, so I was satisfied after six. They really hit the spot and gave me the flavor and crunch I was looking for without blowing my carb count for the day. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Spinach, bacon, and feta stuffed mushrooms

I made these tonight to accompany zucchini "spaghetti" that my friend made. Note to self: get a SPIRALIZER!! Anyway, these were amazing! My husband, who hates mushrooms, still loved the filling. It would be good rolled in a chicken breast as well, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's stick with one recipe at a time :)

20 mushrooms, stems removed
2 large handfuls of spinach
1/4 c bacon bits
1/2 c feta cheese crumbles
Olive oil
Garlic powder
Salt and pepper

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon bits and spinach. Sprinkle with garlic powder. 

Heat until spinach has wilted. 

Pour into a bowl and add feta cheese, salt, pepper, and just a dash of nutmeg. Stir together. 

Spoon into mushroom caps. 

Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. 


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Baked Zucchini Parmesan Rounds

Oh my word, y'all. 

Let me just say that this recipe happened completely by accident, as many of my best dishes do. I started out trying to make a Pinterest recipe, but about two steps in, I changed it. I just can't leave well-enough alone. And that can be a good thing. 

I started by grating 1/2 of a medium-sized zucchini (probably about 3/4 cup). 

To the zucchini, I added a cup and a half of fresh graded Parmesan, some salt and garlic powder, and maybe about an ounce or two of shredded mozzarella cheese (I had about an inch left in a two cup bag, so I just dumped it in). I added an egg and mixed it together by hand. 

Scoop out small amount of the zucchini mixture, place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and flatten. 

Bake at 375 for 13 minutes. Switch to broil for two more minutes. 

Allow to cool on the pan for two minutes. They have a wonderful crisp on the outside with a warm, soft middle. These would be perfect to use as crackers for a dip or even as the crust for tiny, bite-sized pizzas... 

The real test was presenting one to my husband, who is not going low-carb with me. I gave him one to eat and watched as he took a rather tentative bite. 

His brow furrowed for a moment, and then his eyes got big. "This is amazing! What is this?"

"Zucchini, honey. It's zucchini."

Buffalo Chicken with Parmesan Roasted Zucchini Fries

Sticking to my low-carb diet has been not nearly as much of a struggle as I thought it would be.  That is partly due to delicious recipes like this one!

Buffalo Chicken

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts- pounded to about 1/2" thick
Wing sauce (carb free)
Colby jack cheese slices (one for each piece of chicken)
Salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder (I never measure these; just add a good sprinkling)
Olive oil

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Season both sides of the chicken with seasonings.  Place chicken in skillet and cover with about 1 tbsp of wing sauce. Turn chicken to coat both sides.  Cook for a few minutes on each side until chicken is cooked through. Place one slice of colby jack cheese on the chicken and cover the skillet until the cheese melts.

Parmesan Roasted Zucchini Fries

One long zucchini (each zucchini makes sixteen fries)
Olive oil
Garlic powder
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Cut zucchini into long quarters.  Cut each quarter in half going down the length of the zucchini. Cut each long piece in half across the middle.  Place the zucchini wedges on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, garlic powder, and Parmesan.  Bake for 20 minutes.

I also made a dipping sauce that tasted amazing with both the zucchini and the chicken.  I used mayo for my base (carb free!), and I mixed in ranch-flavored seasoning (also carb free!). The ranch seasoning is actually a popcorn seasoning by Kernel Seasons.  It satisfied my need for a ranch fix without all the guilt!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Inspiration for Decorating a Hallway: Guest Post from Jane Blanchard with

My husband and I have been working hard trying to transform our 60s house into a home that reflects our style.  One of the biggest eyesores is our hallway.  It is super narrow and filled with closets and doorways.  The switch for the attic fan, two light switches, and the thermostat take up what little wall space is actually available.  That's why I was so excited when contacted me. They have some fantastic ideas for sprucing up forgotten spaces.    

Inspiration for Decorating a Hallway
By Jane Blanchard

Hallways are difficult spaces to decorate. Most of them are narrow, and it's often a nightmare to coordinate them with the rest of the house. However, there are some lesser known ways hallways can become inspiration for design in the home. Changing the hallway from boring to fantastic simply relies on the limits of your personality. The small space can be changed with seemingly minor touch-up pieces.

Use symmetry to your advantage

The symmetrical lines from door trim and baseboard molding can be an advantage when creating depth. Contrasting trim and wall colors brighten up a room. Use opposing colors for wall pictures as well to create visual interest. Consider using natural plants and natural elements throughout to help balance out the symmetry to give it a softer feel.

Change up the lighting

Via Houzz

Hallways typically rely on overhead lighting and a small amount of natural light for illumination. Changing out the overhead lighting can be a dramatic change to an otherwise boring and narrow room. Traditional hallway lights are usually plain and cast light in a small area. Installing a flush mount chandelier or a series of small semi-flush lights can add the illusion of grandeur in the space. Can lights work well in wider hallways to give the space the feel of a separate room.

Showcase your personality using simple wall elements


Step outside the norm and replace those common walls of picture frames with more unique pieces of art. Narrow floating shelves can hold small trinkets in medium width hallways without becoming too obtrusive. Floating shelves can usually be made of many materials with a standard French cleat hanging system or track.

Wallpaper is another feature that has come a long way. Prepasted paper comes in a variety of colors and patterns that's fairly easy to remove down the road without damaging the wall. You can also consider sites that can copy your own design into a wall mural or decal design for an even quicker wall pattern.

Give it function

Although hallways have an inherent function of directing traffic from one end of the house to another, there are additional untapped functions available. Attaching built-ins to the wall or various hooks can make the hallway a gateway between the entrance and another part of the home. Wider hallways should include built-ins that are continuous with the baseboard molding. For example, a built in bookshelf can be a great way to store artwork as well as highlight the collection of books in the home as guests enter.

Check out Modernize for more home design inspiration and ideas.