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.

img_6811

Add the remainder of the cheese on top:

img_6813

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.

img_6815

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

img_6817

 


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?

 

 

Zucchini Roll-ups ~ Lasagna-style!

If you liked my Chicken Alfredo Zucchini Roll-ups, you will love these zucchini lasagna roll-ups!

Whenever I make meatballs, I always seem to make enough sauce for an army of people. Since it’s just Charlie and I (and I hate left-overs), that’s not a great thing. Because I loved the Chicken Alfredo Zucchini Roll-ups  I made a few weeks ago, I decided to make up some zucchini lasagna roll-ups using the additional sauce. I did look around Pinterest for recipes but in the end, I made up my own.

These little things are really tasty and you will not miss the pasta. However, be warned, they are a little bit of a pain in the butt to put together. This time I ended up doing them “assembly line style”, which meant I figured out how many I would need to fill a row (four for my little dish). I then laid my zucchini out across the counter top so I would be making four roll-ups at a time. It shaved off some time and made it easier to get them into the baking dish. Try it.

First make the zoodles and yes, if you follow my blog you’ve seen this photo before. I didn’t feel like taking a new one since a zoodle is a zoodle is a zoodle. They always look like this.

img_5664

Here are two of them before I spread the mixture out across the zoodles. I did four of these at a time.

7193F363-D308-4FDE-B845-33AFCEACC953

Here is what they looked like in the pan. The red flecks you see are sauteed red peppers I had leftover in the refrigerator. They were an after thought because I wanted the dish to look prettier. I did NOT include the peppers in the recipe below, but if you want to, feel free.

4DEC9C13-6CF1-4E17-B086-7FEF0371DDF7

At this point, I just filled in the empty spots with more sauce.

707350F6-BC7C-4AB0-B40F-CF59151E7D1E

Then the last step is the cheese. What you see here is just a thin layer. I wasn’t sure how much cheese I wanted at this point, so I baked it with a little bit, then I took it out and added more. (You don’t have to do what I did. I am a freak. I own this.)

77438642-EC81-4DB0-B9E7-55B400B940AE

Poof. When it comes out of the oven, it smells spectacular and it looks like this:

And THEN, it looks like this:

img_6713


Ingredients:
5-6 medium zucchini
1 (15 oz.) can artichoke quarters, drained and chopped
10 oz. fresh spinach, sautéed. (Frozen works well too. Thaw and drain it.)
3-4 cups prepared marinara sauce
3 cups ricotta cheese
1 ½ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. Italian Seasoning
1 Teaspoon pepper (or to your taste)
½ Teaspoon salt (or to your taste)

Directions:
Preheat Oven to 375
Using a vegetable peeler, create the zucchini ribbons. (You can use a mandolin set on “thin”, but the peeler really works best for me.)

Drain and chop the artichokes and the sautéed spinach. Place both into a clean dish towel, twist tightly and smash out as much liquid as is humanly possible.

Mix together the ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan, 2 cups Mozzarella, 1 ½ cups of marinara sauce, eggs, and seasonings. Add the artichokes and spinach to the bowl and mix again. IF it is too wet, add a little bit more Parmesan & Mozzarella.

Spread about ¼” of sauce into your baking dish. Keep in mind that you will need this much sauce to support the roll ups vertically.

On a clean surface, lay 2-3 pieces of zucchini down slightly overlapping each other. I made mine to be about 2 & ½ inches across, so depending on the size of the zoodle, I either used two or three slices. Spoon & spread a thin layer of the ricotta mixture over the slices. Roll up tightly and place vertically in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining zucchini.

Top with the remaining sauce and cheese.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is brown and bubbly.

NOTE: I had leftover sauteed red peppers and onions in my fridge, so I cut up some of the peppers and stuffed them into the tops of the rolls to make them look pretty. You do not have to be as crazy as I am OR you can make these rolls your own and add whatever else you like to them. They are very forgiving!

PS-If you like my recipes, I would love for you to please subscribe to my blog. Thank you in advance!

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.

img_5810

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.

img_5664

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.)

img_5811

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.

img_5814

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.)

img_5657

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

img_5687

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.

img_5824

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

img_5661

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.

img_5664

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.

img_5662

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.

img_5639

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.)

img_5657

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.
img_5658

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.

img_5659

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!)

img_5660

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.

img_5654


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.

img_5141

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.)

img_5142

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.

img_5161

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!

img_5157

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!

img_5156


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.