Roman-ish Chicken

If you are like me and are not a fan of dark meat, this recipe will convert you. I promise.

My poor husband has to live with all of my silly food likes and dislikes. He is a guy who really loves all types of food and though I love to cook, I confess that I’m not a fan of some of the things he really loves. Dark meat happens to be one of his favorites. Each time we’re at the store together he gravitates to chicken thighs and suggests we make them. Stubbornly, I refuse because I hate dark meat. (Well I used to refuse until I found this recipe!)

Just look at that photo up there! With this cast of characters, how can anyone not like this recipe! The bonus is that it’s super easy (and cheap) to make!

First you lay out your chicken pieces making sure to pat them dry. After seasoning them with salt and pepper, brown them on both sides in a dutch oven. It isn’t necessary that they cook all the way through at this point. You are just looking for a nice color on both sides. When this is to your satisfaction, remove the pieces and set aside.

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Using the same pan, cook the bacon three quarters of the way to crisp, then add in the rest of the vegetables to saute until soft. Don’t forget to season and reseason every step of the way!

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Once your veggies have reached the desired consistency, add in a can of diced tomatoes, half of a cup of dry white wine, half of a cup of chicken stock, half of a cup of your favorite marinara (I use only Rao, because it’s Keto-approved. You may also make your own fresh marinara if you choose.) Here I threw in a whole bunch of fresh herbs from my garden and also more fresh cracked pepper and salt.

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I let this simmer for a few minutes to allow the flavors to marry and then I add back in the chicken. It’s not a beautiful picture, from here I let the chicken and the sauce simmer for about twenty minutes to allow the chicken to cook through. Charlie suggested last time that olives would be great in this. I agree. I also think artichokes would be tasty as well.

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Once it’s all cooked through, all that remains is to serve it over whatever your heart desires OR to serve it alone with a side of green vegetables. This will do well over rice, pasta, zoodles and even quinoa.


Roman-Ish Chicken
Serves 6

Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (you may use bone in, skin on if preferred)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (you may use bone in, skin on preferred)
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped or sliced (however you prefer)
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
6 pieces of bacon, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons capers
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Optional Ingredients:
¾ cup thinly sliced eggplant (I grow Japanese eggplant, so that’s what you are seeing in the photo)
½ cup sliced olives (whatever type you like)
¾ cup jarred quartered artichokes

Directions:
Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. In a heavy, large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, cook the chicken until browned on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Using the same pan over medium heat, add the bacon & cook it until it’s just about crisp, then add the onions and peppers (and whatever other fresh veggies you may decide to add), and cook until tender (about five minutes or so). Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, wine, and herbs. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the stock. Stir. Return the chicken to the pan and bring the mixture to a boil. IF you are adding jarred olives and/or artichokes, you would add them here. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Just prior to serving, stir in the parsley and capers.

 

Keto Zoodle Pie Redux, only Different.

Yes, I know there I have posted similar recipes. This is the best one of them all.

Most often, the best recipes come from trying to make use of vegetables before they go bad in my refrigerator. This weekend I realized I had three zucchini just sitting there, so one morning I decided they had to be used. What’s easier than zoodle pie, right? (I’m being sarcastic. I know some of you are going, “EXCUSE ME. She thinks everything is easy!” This really is. I promise.)

First thing in any recipe is to assemble the ingredients.  For this recipe, however,  time is needed for the zoodles to sweat out excess water, so the first thing I did was use my handheld vegetable spiralizer to turn the three zukes into long spirals. After this, I laid them out on paper towels and sprinkled a little bit of salt through them. I did the same thing with the tomatoes.

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The longer you let them sit, the more moisture is released. I let these sit there the entire time I was caramelizing one large onion. I think it was about thirty five minutes. The red fleck you see is one eeensy beeensy red pepper I found in my garden. I just added it for a little color. As you can see I’ve got plenty of seasoning in the pan: Italian seasoning, salt & pepper, dried basil, and Trader Joe’s “21 Season Salute”.

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After the onions have cooked, I set them aside to cool. At this point, I blotted the zoodles with a paper towel, then wrapped them (one third at a time) in a clean dish towel. Over the sink, get your frustrations out by squeezing the heck out of them to get rid of the excess moisture. Some people do the same with the tomatoes but I have never had an issue with them.

Here I’ve just laid them out and mixed them with the tomatoes and the cheese. The onions were still cooling. Also, I used kitchen shears to cut the zoodles into more manageable lengths. Zucchini spirals can be two to three feet long; cut them to about the size of spaghetti or even a little longer. This pie works because the zoodles add a really unexpected texture. If you cut the noodles too short, you won’t get the full effect.

By the way, the short white strips you see below are cheese. I used Trader Joe’s blend of shaved Gruyere and Swiss.

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I was impatient so I added this mixture to my pan (pre-sprayed with pan release) before I mixed in the onions. It didn’t make a huge difference. In the photo below you can see all of the ingredients incorporated. I think it looks so pretty!

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Next I poured in the egg mixture. (7 eggs and one half cup of full fat cream). After the eggs have gone in, I use a fork to make sure it’s fully incorporated. Also, gently wrap the pan on the counter top to bring up any bubbles. Once I’m satisfied that everything is fully incorporated, I grated some Asiago cheese over the top.

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This goes into a 400 degree oven for 35 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean. As you will see in the photo, I stayed outside in the garden just a little bit longer than I should have. This is a little bit browner than I’d have liked, but it was still delicious!

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We let this sit on the counter for a couple of hours while we played at the pool. I ate the first slice cold, topped with sour cream, chives and hot sauce. I could have eaten the entire pie.

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This recipe would be great for brunch or a light summer supper. Pair it with fresh veggies or a summer salad! It’s also wonderful for a quick, healthy snack. Hubs and I are doing the keto lifestyle, so I often add half of an avocado as my side dish!

If you make this, please let me know what you thought!


Ingredients:
7 eggs
½ c. full fat cream
3 medium zucchini, spiralized
1 large onion thinly sliced
18-20 cherry tomatoes sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp butter (full fat! Do NOT use margarine, its poison)
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 ½ tsp. pepper
½ salt
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp Trader Joe’s 21 Season Salute
1 Tbsp Asiago Cheese (finely grated)

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Lightly grease the bottom & sides of a 9 x 14” Pie Plate

  1. Using a skillet, over medium heat, caramelize the onions in 2 Tbsp. olive oil & 2 Tbsp. butter. Season with a little salt and pepper, plus half of the other dry seasonings. When caramelizing the onions, it’s important to let them go low and slow. Don’t bother them constantly. Turn them once or twice (to coat) when they first get in the pan, then let them sit for ten minutes before turning again. Repeat until desired color & consistency.
  2. While the onions are going, place the zucchini spirals on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Slice the tomatoes in half and place them cut side down on a paper towel that has been sprinkled with salt.
  3. Whisk the eggs and cream together until smooth. Set aside.
  4. When the onions are ready, remove from heat and set aside to cool. Then pat the zucchini dry with a paper towel. Place one third of the zucchini into a clean dish towel and squeeze out the excess water. Repeat with the remaining zoodles.
  5. Combine zucchini, onions, cheese and most of the tomatoes into a bowl. I always add more seasoning at this point. Stir well.
  6. Place it all into the pie pan and then pour in the egg and cream mixture. Using a fork, swirl everything around a little in order to ensure that everything is mixed together. Gently wrap the entire pan on the counter to release bubbles and evenly distribute the eggs.
  7. Top with finely grated Asiago cheese.
  8. Bake 35 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

KETO PEOPLE! Here are your numbers:
1 serving is approximately 1/8th of the pie
4 net carbs
9 grams fat
5 grams protein

 

 

Dreamy Creamy Cauliflower Casserole

I wasn’t prepared to love this as much as I did. Try it. You will see for yourself!

Yesterday, I started over on my keto program. I had been doing it in earnest all the way through Lent and then poof, I fell off the wagon. I could blame it on the fact that I am a potato chip addict and every time I visit my mother she insists on putting out bowl after bowl of junk food. Every Thursday she puts out a bowl of chips, a bowl of Cheetos, a bowl of Doritos, etc. Then she chides me until I humor her and eat some. (Anyone else have a person like this around?) In her defense, she’s in her mid-eighties and she’s hard-wired like this. Plus, I should have better will power.

I like to start my projects on Mondays, so yesterday was the day to re-invest in the keto lifestyle. Sunday night I planned out my weekly menu and last night was the night to try the cauliflower casserole! Honestly, I wasn’t expecting it to turn out as delicious as it did! Charlie and I both got up this morning talking about how great it was and how neither of us felt hungry for breakfast.

The instructions and the ingredients are very basic, so here you will see only the last steps. This is what it looked like all mixed together prior to adding the cheese and bacon toppings. I could have just baked it like this and it would have been great.

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Add the remainder of the cheese on top:

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Then add the last of the bacon. Don’t skip this step. The extra bacon makes the house smell divine and it adds a little bit more of a smokey flavor to the dish.

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Here it is freshly out of the oven. I didn’t wait for it to get really brown.

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Dreamy Creamy Cauliflower Casserole (serves 8)
Ingredients:
1 head fresh cauliflower
8 oz. cheddar cheese, freshly grated, divided
8 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, freshly grated, divided
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
¾ cup full fat cream
2 bunches green onion, chopped
6 pieces of bacon, cooked
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized florets. Place in a microwave safe bowl with a half cup of water and cover. Microwave on high 4-5 minutes until cauliflower is steamed through. (I took mine out at about 4 minutes because I wanted it to still have a bite to it. Keep in mind, it is still going to be baked.) Drain into a colander.

Cook the bacon (I used the microwave for mine), chop it up and set it aside.

In a separate bowl, combine 8 oz. softened cream cheese with 6 oz. each of the cheddar and Jack cheeses, salt and pepper, and garlic. Add the cream a little bit at a time until the mixture is combined. Add the bacon (reserve 1 ½ Tablespoons for the top) and green onion; then add it all to the cauliflower. Stir gently to combine. Pour into a baking dish.

Smooth the surface with a spatula. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and bacon over the top.

Bake uncovered for 25 minutes or until brown and bubbly.

PS- If you don’t feel like grating your own cheese, you may substitute with pre-shredded. Keep in mind that pre-shredded cheese never has the same flavor as freshly grated.


Nutrition information:

1 serving is 1/8th of the casserole.

Calories: 379, Fat: 27g, Net carbs: 8, Total carbs: 10, Protein: 23g,Fiber: 2g


Here is another cauliflower recipe that I adore.


Seriously, does anyone else out there have a person who is constantly trying to sabotage your eating plan? How do you handle it?

 

 

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