Chicken Charlie Alfredo w/ Bacon & Sun-dried Tomatoes!

The recipe has ruined me for all other Alfredo dishes!

Okay people prepare to be dazzled. Prepare to have your spouses and your family and friends drop to their knees and bow their heads in your presence. This dish delivers everything but dollar bills from your Grandma’s purse. I promise!

By the way. Meet Charlie Alfredo. He really has nothing to do with this recipe. I just like to call him, “Charlie Alfredo” and share this photo whenever possible. (hee hee. HI CHARLIE!)

 

Charlie Tortellini

This recipe starts off in the most delicious way possible! Let’s fry some bacon! Six pieces will definitely do!

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While the bacon is cooking, I grate almost a full cup of Asiago cheese and chop up about 1/4 cup of sun-dried tomatoes. You may wish to add more tomatoes, but they have carbs, so I limited them in my recipe.

Once this bacon has delivered on making your home smell delightful and it’s reached the desired brownness, remove it from the pan and set aside but do NOT do a THING with that bacon grease! You want that!

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Here are my ingredients (bacon, cheese & sun-dried tomatoes) getting ready to be added to the pan. This is prior to my crumbling the bacon. I find if I do this at the last minute, it keeps the bacon crumbles from detouring to my mouth.

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To the grease, add in a couple of garlic cloves, minced. They will sizzle quickly, so be prepared to add the chicken almost immediately. Prior to cooking this chicken, you will want to rinse it and pat it dry, then season liberally with Salt and pepper and I also used Trader Joe’s “21 Season Salute” (I adore that stuff!), but you don’t have to. Here you are just aiming to brown the chicken on both sides. No need to try to cook it through. This takes about 2 or 3 minutes on each side. When it’s brown, remove it and set it aside.

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When the chicken is removed from the pan, add in 1/2 cup of chicken stock and with a wooden spoon or whisk, scrape up all the lovely bits of flavor. Here is where I cheated and used store-bought Alfredo sauce rather than make my own. Hey. This is a week night dish. Cutting corners is totally acceptable except for one thing. IF you are keto or low carb, you will want to read the label of your preferred sauce. Most of them have too many carbs for my taste, so I choose to use Rao’s because it doesn’t. (It’s not cheap, but it’s worth it to me.)roas

Whisk continually while you add in the sauce and then keep whisking as you add in the cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and all but one piece of chopped bacon. IF the sauce appears to be too thick, add in some more chicken stock. Bring up to a slow simmer.

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While your chicken is simmering, spiralize three zucchini. I pulled out another large cast iron skillet and sauteed the zoodles in butter, olive oil, salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Just as they were getting tender, I sprinkled in half a cup of Parmesan cheese to give it body.

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Lastly, season again with salt and pepper. Add the chicken back, cover and let simmer for twenty minutes. When you are ready to serve, stir in one Tablespoon of butter (use the real stuff!), sprinkle the remaining bacon and whatever fresh herb you prefer. Here I have added basil and parsley.

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All that’s left is to dish up your zoodles and top it with a piece of chicken and lots of sauce. I don’t add my zoodles to the sauce prior because I feel the zoodles get soggy. By all means, do what you like to do here. This would be delicious over Alfredo noodles, too.

Bonus: If you eat bread, a nice, crusty piece of garlic bread would be wonderful!


Chicken Charlie Alfredo with Bacon & Sun-dried Tomatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
3 cloves garlic, chopped
6 pieces of bacon, crumbled
1 15oz jar of Rao’s Alfredo Sauce
¾ cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes (more if you don’t care about carbs)
1 cup chicken stock (possibly more if your sauce is too thick)
1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
½ teaspoon salt (Asiago cheese is very salty)
2 Tablespoons freshly chopped Basil
1 Tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
1 Tablespoons butter

Optional: If you have it, you can add additional seasoning your chicken with Trader Joe’s “21 Season Salute”, but it’s not necessary.

For the zoodles:
3 medium zucchini spiralized
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Teaspoon granulated garlic
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan

Directions:

Prepare the chicken by rinsing, patting dry and seasoning both sides with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Assemble the ingredients: grate the Asiago cheese, chop the sun-dried tomatoes, chop the garlic, chop the herbs and then set aside.

In a large cast iron skillet set to medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy, then remove and set aside. Quickly stir in the chopped garlic letting it sizzle only for about 30 seconds, then add in the chicken.

Cook until browned on both sides (about 2-3 minutes per side). No need to cook the chicken all the way through at this step. Brown it and remove it from the pan. Do NOT drain the bacon fat.

Deglaze the pan by whisking in ½ cup of chicken stock making certain to pick up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Whisk in the jar of Alfredo Sauce, then whisk in the cheese, tomatoes and all but one piece of the crumbled bacon. Bring up to a simmer and then add the chicken back to the pan making sure to coat both sides. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.

When the chicken is cooked through, just prior to service, stir in 1 tablespoon butter and the fresh herbs and then top it with the remaining bacon.

Serve over zoodles or pasta or alone with a side of lovely Asparagus!

 

 

 

Just Wow -One Skillet- Creamy Lemon-Garlic Chicken Over Zoodles

Budget friendly, beautiful & delicious; make this dish your weeknight wonder and wow your family!

I say it all of the time but it bears repeating: most often the best recipes are born out of necessity. I knew I had too much zucchini sitting in the refrigerator; I knew I wanted to make something very low carbohydrate; and I knew I wanted to make chicken. Charlie and I both are citrus and garlic lovers, so this dish was almost a no-brainer, except for the sauce. We are both attempting to limit carbs, so I needed to improvise the sauce in order not to have to use flour for a roux.

First order of business was to assemble my ingredients.

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If the photo below looks familiar, it’s because I’ve used it before. I didn’t photograph the zucchini last night (whoops). This is how we like to make our zoodles. To me, the texture is better than spiralizing. If you like spiralized zucchini, by all means do that. Prepare the zucchini and then set aside for cooking later.

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I like a mixture of olive and avocado oil, so this is what I put in my pan. (I also add about a Tbsp. of butter if I’m being honest.) I prepared the chicken with my favorite new seasoning from Trader Joe’s. By all means go get this if you haven’t tried it! If you don’t have this on hand, just use salt and pepper (or whatever you really like using.)

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The chicken only stays in the pan for about 3 minutes each side. You are not trying to cook it through in this step. You only want to brown it. When it’s a nice color on each side, remove it to another plate. Add a little bit of butter to the pan, then the diced shallots. Cook the shallots for a minute or two, then add the broth mixture. Bring this to a simmer and then go watch TV (or drink wine) for about 10-12 minutes while it reduces.

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As you can see by the video (below), my sauce is a funny looking color. This is because I used organic bone broth. (It’s what I had on hand.) By all means use what you have on hand. If you prefer chicken broth or vegetable broth, that will work as well.

Once the sauce has reduced, the next step is fairly easy. Remove the pan from heat, whisk in 1 Tbsp of butter until it melts, then whisk in the cream until it’s incorporated. Put the pan back on the heat for about 2 minutes to allow it to heat through, then add the chicken back to it.  I have no idea why it didn’t occur to me to photograph this step, but oh well. After this, stir in the capers and then the whole pan goes into the oven for about 5 – 10 minutes to cook through.

While this is happening, saute the zucchini noodles. (This is what it looks like.)

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To the zoodles, I added another one of my current favorite spices: Cilantro lime seasoning blend. I also added the zest of two lemons.

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Once the zoodles are the consistency of egg noodles, I take them off the heat. Then pull the chicken out of the oven, stir in the chopped herbs and plate it up. I garnished with fresh lemons.

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BTW: If you are not a fan of zoodles, this chicken dish stands on it’s own. You could serve it alongside some freshly steamed broccoli or asparagus would be lovely as well! Any type of pasta would work, too!

PS- If you are counting carbs, the chicken and the sauce come to about 4.3 g net carbs, 16 g fat & 33 g protein; one serving of the zoodles is about 4 g net carbs.

I guestimate the calorie count of just the chicken and sauce is around 305 per serving.

 


JUST WOW, Creamy Lemon Garlic Chicken (over zoodles)

Ingredients: (Yields 4 servings)

4 chicken breasts. (I saved time by buying mine already thinly sliced)

2.5 c. bone broth

1/3 c. Cream

2 Tbsp lemon juice

Zest of 2 lemons

1/2 tea. Red pepper flakes (optional)

3 garlic cloves smashed then chopped

1/2 c. Chopped parsley (any freshly chopped herb would work well.)

1 shallot finely minced

2 Tbsp. Butter

3 Tbsp. Olive oil

4 zucchini, (transformed into noodles using a vegetable peeler)

S & P

1-2 Tbsp. Seasonings to taste (see above for what I used.)


Directions 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

1. Create the zucchini noodles using a vegetable peeler (use a spiralizer if you like that texture better.) Set aside.

2. Zest the lemons and set the zest aside for later. Then slice the lemons and squeeze the juice into a strainer to catch the seeds & pulp. Into a larger measuring cup or bowl, add two cups of broth, 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, red pepper flakes and garlic. Stir and set aside.

3. Pound your chicken breasts to the same thickness. Mine were 1/2″ thick. Season with salt and pepper. (I also used a good amount Trader Joe’s: “21 Seasoning Salute”-use what you like)

4. Over medium high heat, sauté the chicken in olive oil, about 2 -3 minutes per side. No need to cook all the way through, as it will be going into the oven later. You are just looking for good color on both sides. Remove to a plate. Reduce heat to medium.

5. Put 1 Tbsp. Butter into the hot pan, swirl around, then add the shallots. Cook about 2 minutes, then add the broth mixture. Bring up to a simmer. Let it reduce to about a half cup. (Took about 12 minutes)

6. When the sauce has reduced, remove from the heat, whisk in 1 Tbsp. Butter, then whisk in the cream until it’s fully incorporated. Return to heat for about a minute or two to reheat. Stir in the capers if you are using them. (Do NOT allow the sauce to boil.) Add the chicken back to the pan; turning it in the sauce to coat both sides; then put it into the oven for 5-10 minutes.

7. In a separate skillet, over medium heat, add 1 Tbsp. Olive oil, 1/3 c. Broth, zoodles, lemon zest and seasonings. Toss in the oil and broth until fairly wilted. (I hate soggy zoodles, so watch this carefully. It only takes about 3 minutes.) Season with salt and pepper and 3/4th of the lemon zest.

8. Once the chicken is finished, stir in the chopped parsley (basil would be great in this). Here you can plate the noodles and the put the chicken and sauce on top OR you can remove the chicken from the pan, toss the noodles in the sauce and then add the chicken back. I tend not to toss the noodles in the sauce because it can make the zoodles mushy.

9. Garnish with fresh lemon, more parsley and the last bit of lemon zest.

Keto-Friendly Chicken Parmesan

This is a great way to fry chicken using no flour!

I decided on making this dish a couple of days prior to actually doing it. This is because Charlie and I are literally obsessed with food. We saw someone else making Chicken Parmesan and then we started drooling over the idea of fried chicken.

We are on the Keto diet plan, so this means no flour and no pasta. My daughter gave me an awesome new Keto cookbook, so I got right in it and learned that pork rinds can be used instead of flour. Of course, when I went into the kitchen to make dinner, I realized we’d finished off our spicy pork rinds a few nights ago. Now what to do? We do keep almond flour on hand, but I had my heart set on not using it. Then I remembered a bag of Parmesan chips in the pantry! Right away I dumped those bad boys into a bag and went to town pulverizing them with a large rolling pin. (It was fun!)

Once I had them to the desired consistency, I finely grated some Pecorino Romano and mixed this with the Parmesan. Just for fun, I also added bourbon smoked paprika, Italian seasoning and a little bit of pepper.  I pounded the chicken to about 1/4th inch thickness and then set up my dredging stations.

  1. 3 eggs lightly beaten with 3 Tbps. cream.
  2. The cheese crust mixture

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We prefer to make our zucchini “noodles” using a vegetable peeler instead of the spiralizer. Three medium zucchini made a whole bowl of zoodles, which was plenty for the two of us. They cook down, but not as much as the spiralized zoodles do.

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I let the eggs and chicken sit on the counter for about a half hour to come closer to room temperature before frying and then dredged each piece into the egg and then the crumbs.

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Next 1/4th cup of olive oil mixed with about 1/8th cup of avocado oil went into the pan and got heated to medium. I added 2 tsp. red pepper flakes to this.

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Then came the frying:

Once the chicken was cooked, I set it aside on paper towels while I went to work sauteing the zucchini in another pan. I was amazed at how great the chicken looked. It wasn’t the least bit greasy and it was very crispy to the touch!

The zucchini just gets dropped into about 2 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Toss it around in the pan to coat it. Continue stirring until it reaches the consistency of Al dente pasta. (I like to add about 2 Tbsp. real butter at this point. Season and Stir.)

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Once it’s Al dente,  slowly add some cheese to it. (This was hand grated Parmesan and some pre-grated Mozzarella, but use what you like.) It doesn’t take a lot. I just added it for a little extra flavor and texture. Stir it around until almost melted.
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I really did not want to add red sauce to the zucchini because I didn’t want the noodles to become watery, but at the last minute I decided adding just a little bit would make it more flavorful. I added about half a cup and stirred to combine.

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I knew I was just going to plate this over baking it, so in a separate little pot, I heated a cup of the red sauce and set it aside. Then I began plating the dish: First the zoodles, then the chicken. (I almost stopped here because it looked yummy just like this!)

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Onto each piece of chicken went a little bit of red sauce and then some more cheese. Finally, I chopped up some flat leaf parsley and that was it! Since this was my plate, I didn’t add a ton of extra cheese. Charlie likes a lot of melty cheese, so we added it to his plate (his is the one at the top of the page) and I confess, we stuck it into the microwave.

If you were going to serve this dish to a crowd, you would simply add the chicken pieces over the zoodles in the skillet, then top them with the sauce and the cheese and either bake or broil until the cheese melts.

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Keto Chicken Parmesan
Ingredients:
1.5 lb. chicken tenderloins, pounded to ¼” thickness (you can use breasts if you like, just butterfly them & pound them out.)
3 eggs lightly beaten
3 Tbsp. cream
3 c. prepared Parmesan chips, pulverized
1 c. finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
¼ c. Bourbon smoked Paprika (optional)
¼ c. Italian Seasoning
2 Tbsp. cracked black pepper
3 medium zucchini, cut into thin strips with a vegetable peeler
¼ c. olive oil
1/8 c. avocado oil (optional)
2 Tbsp. butter (full fat REAL butter)
2-3 c. keto marinara sauce
½ c. shredded Mozzarella
½ c. grated Parmesan cheese
¼ c. freshly chopped flat leaf parsley

Directions:

1. Prepare the chicken by pounding to ¼” thickness. Set aside.

2. Prepare the dredges: Whisk together 3 eggs & 3 Tbsp. Cream. Place in bowl. In another bowl, combine pulverized Parmesan chips with the finely grated pecorino cheese plus the Paprika, Italian seasoning & pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces first into the egg mixture, then both sides in the cheese crumbs. Set aside.

3. Prepare the zucchini noodles by using a vegetable peeler to strip off long, thin pieces. Set aside.

4. Pour the marinara sauce into a small pan and heat it through. Reserve on low heat.

5. Using a straight sided skillet, heat olive oil & avocado oil to medium heat; add in the red pepper flakes.

6 Fry the chicken in the oil until golden brown on both sides. (About 3 minutes each side.) Set cooked chicken aside on paper towels.

7. In a separate skillet set to medium heat, drizzle olive oil and add the zoodles, tossing constantly to coat with the oil and also to heat them through. (Takes about 4-5 minutes). Season with butter and pepper.

8. Once the noodles are cooked to desired consistency, add in the grated Parmesan cheese and continue to stir; then add in about a cup of the heated marinara sauce.

9. From here you may plate it layering first the zoodles, then the chicken, then a layer of marinara over each chicken piece, then Mozzarella cheese, then chopped parsley.

OR:

Add each chicken piece back to the zoodle pan, top each piece with marinara sauce, Mozzarella cheese, bake in the oven until the cheese melts. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Faux Cheesy Grits Casserole (Keto)

Sometimes the best recipes are born by re-purposing left-overs. This is one of them!

One of the first Keto things I attempted to make was cheesy cauliflower casserole. What is easier, really, than coating cauliflower in a beautiful cheese sauce and baking it in the oven, right? Here it is ready to hit the oven.

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Here it is after having been baked. I’ll be honest, it was good, but it just didn’t hit the spot for me. I’m a bit of a texture weirdo and I really wasn’t into the fact that the cauliflower felt watery while at the same time the delicious cheese sauce was creamy. (Next time, I plan on roasting the florets in the oven prior to adding the cheese sauce and baking. I feel certain this will handle the texture issue for my taste.)

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This casserole was entirely too big for just Charlie and I so we put it back in the fridge until the following morning. In the back of my mind, I was almost certain I’d be throwing it out, because I tend not to like left overs and let’s face it, cauliflower in any form isn’t something one dreams about eating again and again.

That is, until I woke up the next morning wishing I could have a bowl of grits for breakfast. (Don’t make a face. I grew up eating grits for breakfast and I still love them!) Grits are not allowed in the Keto plan so I decided to improvise with the left over cauliflower. (After all, if I failed I’d have a real good excuse to throw it all out!)

It was so simple, it’s almost embarrassing to report. All I did was dump the entire left over casserole into a blender with a little more cheese and two eggs. I also added some smokey Paprika and salt and pepper. Then I poured it into a pretty little casserole dish, topped it with more colorful Paprika and baked it at 350 for thirty minutes.

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Pay no attention to the circles. I was being cute with cutting out cheese circles and it didn’t work AT ALL. It just turned out looking weird. I should have layered them all over. Not to worry, it didn’t affect the taste even a little bit!

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I served mine over zucchini fritters and added hot sauce to the top because I love it. This is something I start to crave just by looking at this photo. Seriously, this is good and if you are having a big Easter function, it would be a great addition to the menu!

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Ingredients:
1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets
½ cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp. REAL butter
½ cup cream cheese
¾ cup grated cheddar or whatever cheese you like (& more if you want to top the casserole with it.)
Salt & pepper to taste
1-2 Tbsp. water or more cream if you need to thin it down
2 eggs
1-2 tsp. smoked paprika (save half for sprinkling on top)
½ tsp garlic powder

Optional seasonings:
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp paprika
2-4 Tbsp. freshly chopped herbs (your favorite)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Place the cauliflower into a microwave safe bowl, cover, and cook about 3-5 minutes, until fork tender.
Place cooked cauliflower into a clean towel and squeeze out excess moisture. Set aside.

Place the butter and ¼ cup cream into a small saucepan and heat up gently to combine. Add the cream cheese and stir until combined.
When the sauce begins to bubble, remove from the heat and whisk in the cheddar cheese. Add seasonings. Stir until creamy.

Let cool a few minutes. (This is because you are going to add eggs to this mix and you don’t want to scramble them.) If you prefer to temper them over allowing everything to cool first, that’s fine too.

Place cooked cauliflower, eggs, ¼ cup of cream, sauce and whatever seasonings you prefer into a food processor (or blender). Pulse until you reach desired consistency. Grits are tiny specks about the size of pin heads. I took mine all the way down to this size but if you prefer yours larger, by all means do what makes you happy!

Pour into a casserole dish, sprinkle with seasonings, (add extra cheese if that’s what you like) and bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

 

Neato Keto Spicy Spaghetti Squash

The other night I wanted an easy side dish to go along with some swordfish. Hence, this recipe was born.

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I might be the only person on the planet who isn’t okay with subbing spaghetti squash for real noodles. (I think I’ve said this before, come to think of it.) Yet, for whatever reason, I am continually picking them up at the store. I liken it to my feelings about eggs. I really want to like them. I do love the way they look, but more often than not, I’m underwhelmed.

Enter this recipe for Spicy Spaghetti squash.

The other night I was planning on making cilantro lime swordfish. Ordinarily,  I’d pair the fish with some form of rice or noodle, but since these things are off-limits to me right now, I needed to get creative. Besides, the poor little squash had been sitting on my kitchen table for weeks and I felt sorry for it.

I decided to try and see if I could make a spaghetti squash dish that would compliment the cilantro/lime flavors in the fish. First I chopped up some peppers (hot and mild) & onions (red and yellow) and sauteed them in butter and olive oil.

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Meanwhile I had my spaghetti squash roasting the oven (cut side was down while it was in there.) My limes were pretty hard, so I zested them, cut them in half and the put them in the oven with the squash for the last five minutes. It makes them easier to squeeze. You can use the microwave for this as well, but I’m not a fan. (Limes in the oven smell Divine!)

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See how you can tell that the little spaghetti-like strands are loose and ready to be scraped out? That’s how you know it’s ready.  That and the fact that the shell is now paper thin and easily gives when you squeeze it.

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Once you’ve scraped the squash goodies into the pan with the vegetables, it’s just a matter of heating it all up together and seasoning.

Poof. You’re done. Call the news crews because this is delicious!

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I really did like this dish a lot and the best part was the leftovers! In the morning I just cracked some eggs and did a scramble. I added more cilantro and some leftover asparagus tips, (and I made some cheese bowls, too.)

egg bowls

egg bowls 2

 


Ingredients:
1 small spaghetti squash, cut in half & seeded
4 Tbsp. Olive oil
2 Tbsp. Butter-more if needed. (REAL FULL-FAT BUTTER, PEOPLE!)
½ Red bell pepper, diced
½ Orange bell pepper, diced
2 Jalapeno peppers, seeds removed, diced
1 small red onion thinly sliced
½ yellow onion thinly sliced
Zest of 2 limes
Juice of 2 limes
1 bunch of cilantro finely chopped
3 Tbsp. Fresh chopped dill (optional)
1 Tea. Red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, & coat with a thin layer of olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Place cut-side down on a baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes or until fork tender.

Meanwhile sauté the vegetables in 2 Tbsp. butter & 2 Tbsp. olive oil until tender. (Don’t forget to season them with salt & pepper. I also added red pepper flakes, but this is optional.) Turn off the heat & set aside until the squash is ready.

Once the squash is tender, rake the flesh with a fork into the skillet with the vegetables and begin to fold everything together. Turn the heat back on to medium-low. Add the lime juice, lime zest, cilantro and dill and stir until combined and warmed through. (I added more butter to mine at this point.)

Enjoy.

BONUS: Here is another spaghetti squash recipe I actually like: Stuff Your Face with This! Spaghetti Squash